A little over a year ago, venture capitalist John Doerr — of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byer (KPCB) — and General Electric CEO Jeffery Immelt asked, in an op-ed for the Washington Post, how the U.S was going to catch up to China in the world of green innovation and renewable energy technology?
“Not through protectionism or massive government intervention but through the power of good old home-grown innovation,” they wrote.
Unfortunately, Immelt and Doerr, among others, have not exactly lived up to those words. Instead, they have been lobbying for the kind of government innovation they so publicly denounced – energy policies that would financially benefit their companies at the taxpayers’ expense.
As The Daily Caller previously reported, KPCB’s Doerr has been influential in creating an artificial market for green technology, while helping to steer stimulus dollars through the Department of Energy into KPCB-backed companies. In other words, Doerr seemingly gamed the system to personally profit from the stimulus.
But the cronyism isn’t just happening at KPCB. Nor is Doerr the only major player when it comes to CEOs lobbying the government for green-technology investments and legislation.
Outside of the Silicon Valley-firm, businesses have teamed up with environmental groups to form the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). The effort was spearheaded by Immelt and Duke Power CEO Jim Rogers.
Their goal, according to USCAP’s website, is to “call on the federal government to enact legislation requiring significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.” But like it is the case with Doerr and KPCB, the members at USCAP have tried to use climate change and the war against fossil fuels as an excuse to lobby the federal government for policies that directly benefit them financially.
But the story of USCAP isn’t nearly as successful as that of KPCB.
Last summer, USCAP welcomed what it saw at the time as its first major legislative victory – the passage of cap and trade legislation in the House. Indeed, the CEOs of the member companies of USCAP had a very significant influence on the legislation, known as Waxman-Markey. They even claim responsibility for helping draft certain provisions in the bill.
At that time, USCAP was comprised of high-profile members like General Motors, Chrysler, Deere & Co., Caterpillar, BP, Lehman Brothers, and AIG. According to Myron Ebell, director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Energy Institute, their lobbying efforts on behalf of Waxman-Markey were purely for financial reasons. “Rogers [CEO of Duke Power] knew he could make a lot of money if cap and trade was institutionalized,” Ebell said in an interview with TheDC.
The irony is, however, that, for most, membership in USCAP was downright counterproductive and the financial profits never materialized.
Take Deere, for example. Just last week it was announced that the company gave up its membership in USCAP. “We came to the conclusion that Deere had other opportunities to be involved in climate change initiatives,” the company’s spokesman, Ken Golden said in a press release.