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On Climate Change, Duke Energy Talks Cap at the UN While Filling the Air with Carbon Dioxide

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 31 -- Climate change is the buzzword of the year so far at the United Nations, but some invited as heroes may have feet of clay (or of unsequestered carbon).

            Tuesday the chairman and CEO of Duke Energy, James E. Rogers, was an invited panelist in the General Assembly's "thematic debate on climate change," then took part in a press conference. Inner City Press has asked, why was Duke's CEO invited? Because he testified to the U.S. Congress in favor of "cap and trade," the UN staffer said. But what about Duke's actual record, under Rogers' leadership?

            Inner City Press asked Rogers about the inclusion of two Duke coal-fired power plants in a list of the nation's dirtiest, in terms of carbon dioxide production leading to global warming. Rogers first answer was, "My number one job" is ensuring "a reliable supply of energy." Burn, baby, burn. Video here, from Minute 32:54 to 38:07

Duke's CEO Jim Rogers: burn, baby, burn

            Duke lost a Supreme Court case earlier this year, in which the reported finding was that Duke has not sufficiently upgraded its plants. "That's a hotly contested issues," Rogers said, claiming that whatever "remedy" comes out of that "historical litigation," Duke is retrofitting 29 of its plants in the South and Midwest.

            Next, Inner City Press asked Rogers about a recent article reporting that Duke is "racing to build a new generation of coal-fired projects ahead of clean-air regulations that might make such plants too expensive" and quoting him that he "expects his company's new plants will be exempt from any new regulations."

            Rogers said the quote was taken from "a cross-examination where there was a hypothetical question." What he meant was that cap and trade legislation would have a base year, which would be before the next 800 megawatt plan in North Carolina is ready, in 2012 or 2013. It's not that he was claiming it would be "exempt from any new regulation," other than it would not be counted in the baseline.

            And this is the UN's corporate climate change hero?  We'll see.

* * *

Click here for a previous Inner City Press UN / climate change story. Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from a still-undefined trust fund.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540