Cap and Trade by Stealth: U.S. States Partner With Foreign Governments

By Alex Newman   The New American

While Americans were battling cap-and-trade legislation at the national and international levels, global-warming alarmists were quietly building regional systems between state and local governments, private industry, and even foreign governments that basically achieve the same effect — higher energy prices for consumers and more money for governments.

The first and most prominent of these U.S. cap-and-trade systems is known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). It was created not by the people through their legislatures, but by a so-called “Memorandum of Understanding” between state governors.

Consisting so far of 10 Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont — the scheme is described on the RGGI website as “the first mandatory, market-based effort in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Its board of directors consists primarily of each participating state’s top environmental bureaucrats.

The “Initiative” works by having each state cap its carbon dioxide emissions at a certain level, then auctioning off emissions permits to the highest bidder. Eventually, the CO2 limits will be reduced, causing increased energy prices as companies pass along the added costs to consumers. By 2018, the RGGI plans to reduce energy-sector emissions by 10 percent.

Thus far, the scheme has netted close to a billion dollars by selling “carbon credits” to utility companies and other firms in participating states, earning about $50 million through an auction held on December 1. The first auction was actually held in 2008, and there have been nine since then. Spoils from the emissions permits are then handed out by state governments to companies, environmental groups, and others.

Incredibly, the RGGI has managed to avoid public scrutiny of its operations by incorporating as a non-profit organization and leaving enforcement and regulation to the individual states. The corporation claims it does not have to respond to public requests for information since, technically, it is not actually a government entity.

But the corruption is already coming out in the open. “New Hampshire conservationists had high hopes for how $18 million in funding generated by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) might advance energy efficiency projects,” wrote columnist Fergus Cullen in the New Hampshire Union Leader earlier this year. “Unfortunately, cronyism and corporate welfare hallmark too many grants awarded by the Public Utilities Commission so far.”

Cullen’s piece details, among other things, the outrageous handouts to “environmental” front groups and big businesses that helped push the scheme through. For example, an activist group in New Hampshire called “Clean Air Cool Planet” was incorporated by out-of-state bigwigs to promote global-warming alarmism — including Al Gore’s discredited “documentary,” An Inconvenient Truth.

“Having helped create this pot of money, Clean Air was one of the first in line with its hand out so it can do more alarmist advocacy, paid for with public resources awarded by friends,” Cullen explains. The group has already received almost half of a million dollars. Another example cited by the columnist: “Yogurt on a mission” producer Stonyfield Farm, with $300 million in yearly sales, received nearly $150,000 to upgrade its air-conditioning system.

Money was basically shoveled out, “creating opportunities for the well-connected and the in-the-know” while “millions of dollars have gone out the window, wasted like heat leaking out of an uncaulked pane,” Cullen concludes.

But RGGI boss Jonathan Schrage — who after intense public pressure recently disclosed his salary of almost $170,000 per year — thinks the scheme is great. “I look forward to building RGGI Inc. into a dependable administrative ally of each state’s RGGI program,” Schrag said in a press release when he was appointed executive director. “The states have done tremendous work to develop the first CO2 cap-and-trade system in the U.S.”

Not everyone thinks so, though. And in an e-mail to supporters, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise warned of even bigger problems to come. “RGGI is the prototype for more regional cap & tax entities,” wrote the organization’s executive vice president Ron Arnold. “Soon RGGI will expand to every state and stick you with astronomical energy prices.”

Arnold blamed the “corruptocrats in Washington” for the “gigantic waste of tax dollars,” adding that the “crooks behind RGGI must be exposed” and held accountable. He also said that, despite RGGI claims that it is “making a significant impact to combat the threat of global warming,” the data proves otherwise.

“The only impact RGGI has made so far is they have raised energy prices and created a slush fund for each member state,” Arnold explained. And according to his letter, “the fact that global warming isn’t even real” won’t prevent the “climate change scam” from spreading to other states. And he’s right — it’s already happening.

An even bigger and more ambitious effort that includes Canadian provinces — and even Mexican states — as “observers” is set to go into effect in 2012. Known as the Western Climate Initiative, the scheme is described on its official website as “a collaboration of independent jurisdictions working together to identify, evaluate, and implement policies to tackle climate change at a regional level.”

Among the participating “jurisdictions”: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, and four Canadian provinces. So-called observers, “jurisdictions” that are likely to join soon, include six Mexican states, an additional six U.S. states, and another three Canadian provinces. The Western Climate Initiative, like the RGGI, was also created by an agreement between state governors — not legislatures.

A similar scheme for the American Midwest, under the banner of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, is also set to enter into force in 2012. The agreement encompasses Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — for now. Three other U.S. states and one additional Canadian province are listed on the scheme’s website as “observers.”

One unifying factor between all the regional partnerships is the emphasis on promoting expansion and eventual federal — and even international — involvement. And in Cancun at the global warming summit, state and local-government leaders made it clear that they would continue marching forward with the anti-carbon dioxide schemes at the global level — no matter what the outcome of United Nations climate talks currently underway in Cancun.

“We are proving that while a global agreement is important, we do not need to wait for it to start building the path to a new low carbon future,” explained Quebec Premier Jean Charest, the co-chair of the States & Regions Alliance, during a summit at the COP16. “As our national counterparts meet here in Cancun to continue the negotiations, states and regions are continuing to show the leadership necessary to make practical headway on climate action.”

And this is all part of the broader global plan. The so-called “States and Regions Alliance” represented by Premier Charest — some 60 state and regional governments accounting for about 15 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product — is part of a shadowy but powerful international non-profit known as “The Climate Group.”

The organization works with the United Nations Development Program, the World Economic Forum, the Administrative Center for China’s Agenda 21, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other high-profile institutions, agencies and governments to advance the global climate agenda. And it promotes the implementation of global-warming schemes through “sub-national” levels of government — among other things.

“States, regions and cities are where the rubber hits the road in terms of practical action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” wrote States and Regions Alliance co-chair and Quebec Premier Charest, along with his fellow co-chair, South Australia Premier Mike Rann.

“The UN Development Program estimates that 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the emissions cuts needed to keep climate change below 2C will need to be delivered at state, regional and city levels,” the co-chairs noted in their joint column for The Australian entitled ‘Think globally, act locally? States already are.’ “This is because regional governments often control regulation for many of the key areas for addressing climate change, such as power generation, the built environment, waste management, transport and land use planning.”

CEO of The Climate Group Steve Howard offered a similar analysis. “A clean industrial revolution is not only possible, but it is well underway in the world’s leading states, cities and regions,” he told COP16 attendees at the “Climate Leaders Summit” in Cancun Wednesday. “The subnational governments in our Alliance are not waiting for a global agreement but are forging agreements of their own to lead a growing global market for low-carbon goods and services already estimated at $4.7 trillion.”

Despite the U.S. Senate’s rejection of cap-and-trade legislation, the carbon-tax agenda is still being implemented in America and around the world. Using the Environmental Protection Agency, the Obama administration is moving forward on regulating emissions of carbon dioxide at the federal level. And through alliances and agreements between states and even foreign governments — unconstitutional under Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution — those same forces are building a powerful and expensive carbon regime that could eventually encompass every state in the Union, and beyond.

For original text http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/5466-cap-and-trade-by-stealth-us-states-partner-with-foreign-governments

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World Opinion Is Changing and Reason is Here to STAY

Canada has pulled out of the 1997 anti-global warming Kyoto protocol, saying the treaty is ‘not working’. The departure comes a day after further climate talks in South Africa led to a new agreement, which is set to replace Kyoto by 2015. Piers Corbyn, the founder of the Weather Action Foundation, hopes Canada withdrawal will lead to the collapse of “useless” Kyoto protocol.

Mississippi High Court Justices Seek Reasons why PSC Reversed Itself to allow Kemper Co. Coal Plant

JACKSON, Miss. — Three Mississippi Supreme Court justices asked repeatedly Wednesday where the state Public Service Commission laid out its reasoning when it modified its decision to allow the construction of a Kemper County power plant last year.

The Sierra Club is trying to get the Supreme Court to derail the $2.7 billion power plant, now under construction in Kemper County’s Liberty community. The environmental group argues the PSC broke the law by failing to lay out its reasoning clearly when it eased the financial terms under which Mississippi Power Co. could build what it calls Plant Ratcliffe.

A lawyer for Mississippi Power said the commission didn’t have to provide such reasoning, though. He said judges could find reasons to support the decision in the 30,000-plus pages of testimony and records submitted as part of the appeal.

Mississippi Power says rates will go up about 33 percent to pay for the plant. However, Sierra Club lawyer Robert Wiygul told the court Wednesday that confidential documents he has reviewed show rates would rise as much as 45 percent. The Mississippi Business Journal reported the same amount in August 2010, citing documents obtained through a public records request.

A unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., Mississippi Power would buy lignite mined nearby, turn it into a synthetic gas, and burn the gas, capturing byproducts such as carbon dioxide and selling them. The technology is supposed to allow coal to be burned more cleanly and cut emissions of carbon dioxide, which scientists say contribute to global warming. Mississippi Power says the plant is needed to provide more electricity for its 193,000 customers scattered from Meridian to the Gulf Coast.

The Sierra Club opposes the project, saying that the technology behind the plant is unproven and that it’s undesirable under any circumstances to build new coal mines and new coal-fired power plants. The environmental group says it would be cheaper for Mississippi Power to build a natural gas plant or buy power from independent natural gas generators.

“The law requires the Public Service Commission to choose the cheapest and most reliable technology and power plant,” Louie Miller, executive director of the Mississippi Sierra Club, said at a pre-hearing news conference. “This is neither.”

The PSC originally voted in April 2010 to cap at $2.4 billion the amount that Mississippi Power could charge ratepayers for the plant. The company is also getting about $300 million in federal assistance. Commissioners also said the power company couldn’t charge ratepayers for the plant before it started operation.

Mississippi Power said it couldn’t build under those conditions and asked the PSC to reconsider.  (Previously suggested most corrupt in MS) Lawyer Ben Stone  said Wednesday that it needed wiggle room for cost overruns, and wanted to charge ratepayers early to cut the interest customers would pay on money borrowed for the project.

"Uncle Ben Stone", Haley Barbour, and Steven Palazzo

"Uncle Ben Stone", Haley Barbour, and Steven Palazzo

“We could not go to the financial markets without some relief in both of those areas and finance the plant,” Stone said.

If this scheme had any merit it could have found investors.  With a negative credit score and historical pattern of Lignite Coal plant failure, Investors know Mississippi Power and Southern Company’s Kemper Coal Plant is a money pit with no intention of making money. It will be fined, regulated with fees, and taxed right out of any possible profits.  Among other costs to run problems they will encounter.  The profit comes in when MS power can charge a percent of its overall costs to the ratepayers.  Criminal and truly un-American, isn’t it? 

 A month later, commissioners voted 2-1 to give Mississippi Power what it wanted, raising the cost cap by 20 percent, to $2.88 billion. The commission must still agree that company spending is “prudent” for it to collect any money, even below $2.4 billion. It also allowed Mississippi Power to start charging before the plant’s scheduled start in 2014. Under state law, Mississippi Power can keep the money even if the plant is never completed.

It is not prudent to charge ratepayers for an experimental CO2 capturing mechanism that fails to produce any electricity, and  is founded on global warming science fraud, and a cap-and-trade system not yet in adopted. 

The key issue in Wednesday’s case is not whether the plant is a good idea, but whether the PSC adequately laid out its rationale for what Miller labeled a “flip-flop” by commissioners Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey, who voted for the amended conditions.

The Sierra Club said the PSC didn’t adequately explain. “That’s going to require some evidence you can see and really get your arms around,” Wiygul said.

He said judges shouldn’t have to pick and choose reasons from the overflow of material submitted with the appeal, and the three justices sitting Wednesday seemed sympathetic to that argument.

“I did not see and still do not find anywhere where the commission explained to the court why this was now not too risky,” said Associate Justice Randy “Bubba” Pierce. “I want to know what happened between April 29 and May 26. What additional facts were submitted to the record?”

Stone said the new facts were contained in Mississippi Power’s motion to reconsider and its post-hearing briefs. “It’s very obvious to us that all those matters are supported,” he told the justices.

More importantly, though, he said the PSC was not required to summarize its reasoning for court review. Stone said that a prior court case says that as long as the court can find the reasoning in the record leading to the decision, the court must let the PSC’s decision stand.

JEFF AMY  Associated Press

Mississippi Power Joins United Nations Imaginary War on CO2 Inflicting Serious Economic Harm

Mississippi Power is following the commitments of their parent company, Southern Company, to the United Nations, Kyoto protocols.  The old science utilized by the EPA is falling under great scrutiny as more evidence of falsified science data pours into the public domain.  We continue to plead with Mississippi Power and our three Public Service Commissioners to actually look into the agendas being strategically implemented into America’s energy production creating a serious economic hardship on Mississippians and their Businesses.

Nicholas Loris, a policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation believes there are sound reasons why Congress should prevent Lisa Jackson of the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant or dangerous greenhouse gas.

As Loris writes in The Washington Times:

1. The EPA inspector general’s finding that EPA did not follow federal data quality standards in preparing its “endangerment finding” regarding greenhouse gases.
2. The profusion of scientific dissent.
3. The massive economic costs and minimal environmental benefits.

The EPA declared CO2 to be a dangerous pollutant in April of 2009, but in September 2011, the EPA’s Inspector General released a report showing that Jackson’s “experts” failed to follow proper federal guidelines for reaching the conclusion that CO2 must be regulated.

Loris notes that even if the EPA regulated CO2 in America, it would have little impact on the planet. China and India both emit far more CO2 than does the U.S. They have no intention of slowing down their production of energy. Loris writes:

The EPA’s regulations would, however, inflict serious economic harm. Although the agency targets the largest emitters of greenhouse gases first, the financial burden would extend to every American. The agency’s first two targets are fossil-fuel power plants and petroleum refineries. The U.S. gets 85 percent of its energy from fossil fuels. Regulating these entities would significantly increase energy costs – electricity, gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil – directly.

Delaying regulations sounds nice in theory, but that’s not enough for the energy industry. Energy companies need certainty in order to make rational economic decisions. Uncertainty leads to stalled projects and economic stagnation. But, of course, the destruction of the fossil fuel industry is the not-so-hidden agenda of Lisa Jackson and her environmental activist friends inside the EPA. Delays and changing regulations work wonders on throwing the energy industry into chaos.

Here for original article

We Must Reduce Production and Consumption & Mississippi Power Obeys

Hopefully our commissioners will one day say this…

“STATES SHOULD REDUCE AND ELIMINATE UNSUSTAINABLE PATTERNS OF PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION AND PROMOTE APPROPRIATE DEMOGRAPHIC POLICIES”

Quote found here

and here and many other places on official UN websites.

Kemper County Coal – FRAUD

John Casey Mentions Kemper County by Name on the Radio this Morning.

Interview with Kipp Greggory on 104.9fm Gulf Coast Morning

http://www.newsradio1049fm.com/player/?art=B4L&tra=on%20demand&omu=http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/30338/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/30338/1695/richmedia/INTERVIEW_-_20110901_-_JohnCasey_-_Agenda21AndGlobalWarming.mp3?CCOMRRMID=21370730&CPROG=RICHMEDIA&MARKET=BILOXI-MS&NG_FORMAT=&NG_ID=&OR_NEWSFORMAT=&OWNER=1695&SERVER_NAME=wbuv-fm.admin.clearchannel.com&SITE_ID=1695&STATION_ID=WBUV-FM&TRACK=

Al Gore Profanity Laced Meltdown as Global Warming Scam Collapses

Rated “R” Parental discretion

Al Gore Meltdown at the Aspen Institute – Profanity laced rant as Global Warming Scam collapses

Thomas A Blaton On the Experimental Lignite “Science Project”

Mississippi Power Kemper County Lignite Project

Tom’s speech below will explain his views regarding this Mississippi Power Project: 

I am running for Public Service Commissioner, Southern district, in order that the public should be represented.  I am opposed to the 45% electric bill increase which Mississippi Power Company will need to pay for this experimental lignite science project in Kemper County.  Mississippi Power used its considerable political influence to obtain the passage of Senate Bill 2793 which allows regulators to charge the consumers for the construction of experimental technology even if the technology does not work.  This is nothing less than radical liberal corporate socialism.

    I am opposed to the public utilities filing rate increase documents in secret.  At the request of Mississippi Power the rate impact information is maintained by the Public Service Commission as a confidential, non public record.  No one knows how much it will cost.  And in this light, the Public Service Commission voted two to one to allow Mississippi Power to go forward with this science project. Never have so few taken the power from so many.  At the radio forum in Purvis, Mr. Bentz accused me of lying about the 45% increase.  The only organization allowed to see the entire record is the staff of The Mississippi Business Journal, a very conservative newspaper.  It is their studied opinion that the increase will be 45%.  Mr. Bentz should not believe his own rhetoric that this percentage is made up by the Sierra Club. 

    Large electric rate increases cause taxes to go up. Even today, our schools, our cities, and our counties are raising our taxes in order that they will be able to pay Mississippi Power for this science project when the electric bills go up next year.  This tax increase is the biggest tax increase in Mississippi history.  We should all give credit to the leadership of Phil Bryant and the Republican Party who worked diligently to make sure that the residents of South Mississippi may have the privilege of paying these huge new taxes. 

When you consider that Mississippi Power distributes mostly within towns and cities, the situation becomes even more unjust.  Laurel is 55% black and has an medium income of  65% of the Mississippi median.  Meridian is 54% black with a median income less than 85% of the state median. Hattiesburg is 47% black.  Waynesboro is 57% black with 31% of the people living below the poverty level.  Consider this:  the casinos on the coast receive large electric rate discounts.   The rich folk in Lamar County do not have to pay extra to make up for these discounts given by Mississippi Power because they do not buy electricity from Mississippi Power.  But the poor and black folk do. 

Power Companies should be made to play fair not favorites.          

Every economic model put forward by Mississippi Power shows that the cheapest fuel and method of generation is to burn natural gas.  Only Mr. Bentz and the management of Mississippi Power exhibit the primitive, non competitive notion that the price for natural gas is volatile.  Mr. Bentz says that gas is $4.00 one day and $15.00 the next.  That just is not so.  And why compare day to day gas purchase practices with a 25 year coal lease with an ultra cheap royalty to the landowner.  There is enough known reserves of natural gas to run Mississippi Power into the next century. And when adjusted for inflation, natural gas is cheaper now than thirty years ago when it was run by the government. 

Nowhere in the testimony before the Public Service Commission does anyone mention the fact that when electric bills go up substantially, old folks die.  It is estimated that for every job created by the lignite science project, an elderly person will die from temperature related illness every year.  Over the life of the lignite project, more than ten thousand old folks will die.  Mr.  Bentz, Mr. Posey, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Barbour, this is not a good trade. 

    It is too much power for a power company to have. 

    Between 1999 and 2003, Haley Barbour received 2.9 million dollars to lobby for Southern Company, Edison Electric Institute, Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, and other energy industries.  He paid the Southern Company back with 2.9 BILLION dollars of the public’s money so that they can build the experimental lignite science project.  Haley was satisfied being paid only one tenth of one cent on every dollar he delivered to Southern Company.  Folks that is chump change.  I cannot believe that we were so gullible to elect someone Governor of our state that is so cheap. Cheap. Cheap. 

We will never get out of the economic cellar as long as we tolerate these liberal Republican policies which destroy our natural wealth for the benefit of the Yankee carpetbaggers and their liberal fellow travelers. 

You may recall my efforts to block the Republican plan to use Richton Salt Dome as a nuclear dump.  You may recall my efforts to stop the dumping of New York City’s garbage in Stone and Greene Counties.  You may recall my efforts to stop gravel mining in Okatoma Creek.  I opposed Kirk Fordyce’s plan to build 2,000 pig farms in North Mississippi with no sewage controls.  All of these efforts were successful.  I never asked for a dime in compensation. 

I lead the legislative efforts, as a citizen activist, to create The Scenic Streams Program.  When I activated my telephone tree, the switchboard in the state capitol building caught on fire.  I was active in rewriting the gravel mining laws of Mississippi to protect our streams and in the rewriting of the laws regarding hazardous waste dumps in Mississippi. At my suggestion, our state set up one of the most successful hazardous waste recycling efforts in America.  I helped build the public support for the Pine Belt Regional Landfill. 

I ask for your vote for Public Service Commissioner, Southern District.  I will work for you.  I am strong enough, tough enough, and smart enough to stand up to the utilities and their paid lobbyists.  Let’s stop the 45% electric bill increase. Lets repeal Senate Bill 2793. Elect Thomas A. Blanton your Public Service Commissioner.  I really will save you money! 

*Note:  the Senate Bill 2793 is now Mississippi Code section 77-3-101 through 77-3-109. 

http://thomasatomblanton4psc.com/home.html

Jackson Free Press Picks up on the Kemper Related Elections

Why the PSC Race Matters

File Photo

by Adam Lynch
July 27, 2011

Few people attend the monthly meetings of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, outside of utility company officials and their host of attorneys. Generally, when the talk is about electricity, gas or telecommunications, eyes glaze over.

But the Public Service Commission is an essential body of state government charged with overseeing the behavior of the state’s biggest power-producing monopolies. It also makes sure telemarketers adhere to cold-call rules set by federal and state laws, but the monopoly-overseeing bit is the part that dictates how much your monthly power bills go up or down.

Power companies must approach the three-member commission for permission to implement rate increases. Commissioners, who are elected, receive political backlash for allowing those rates to jump up noticeably. It’s a workable relationship, but some new candidates are trying to see how far they can push the most recent backlash.

A majority of the commission voted last year to allow Mississippi Power Co. to charge ratepayers for construction of a $2.88 billion coal-burning plant in Kemper County–after some coaxing by Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour’s former Washington lobbying firm helped secure some federal money for the project (thus, he arguably benefits from the construction because he receives a income in the form of a blind trust from the firm). But Mississippi Power Co. ratepayers have to fund the brunt of the thing, and commissioners did not release its potential rate increase impact to the public. Nor have they allowed the rate increases, which could end up as a 50 percent increase, to slip into customers’ monthly statements prior to the election.

The two commissioners favoring the construction of the plant, incumbents Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey, say the coal plant will pave the way to a future of stable or cheap electricity prices because coal is one of the country’s most plentiful energy resources. They say they are not only looking to the state’s long-term future, but that the plant will put Mississippi at the forefront of a carbon-neutral energy revolution. The Sierra Club, an environmentalist group, says the plant’s carbon capture technology is unproven and unreliable.

Only Northern District Democrat Brandon Presley opposed the construction of the plant. Presley screamed into every microphone his reasons for opposing the new plant, and protested the power company’s desire to keep the rate increases private. He was a minority of the board, however.

Candidates are lining up to attack the incumbents for that decision. Republican and self-professed Tea Party candidate Travis Rose said the Kemper County plant decision was his main reason for running against incumbent Bentz.

“As a Tea Party member … the Kemper County decision really upset me,” said the St. Martin resident. “Our elected officials like to claim they’re transparent and accountable. Yet, when I go on their website regarding the Kemper plant I see one press release on Kemper County, and you have to go into their archives to see something from last April with them bragging about it capturing CO2. They don’t tell us about any estimate of what it’s going to do to our utility rates.”

Democratic candidate James M. Buckhaults, a former Ellisville alderman, said he was waiting to take Bentz on in the general election for the same reason. “They decided to go along with the Legislature in making us pay for that thing before they even start building it, which I think is crazy,” he said.

Buckhaults will first have to beat southern commission Democratic candidates Thomas Blanton and Mike Collier before he gets that privilege. Neither Blanton or Collier returned calls.

Republican Lynn Posey faces no opposition from his party; Haley Barbour’s nephew Charles Barbour politely ducked out of the race. Posey adhered to Barbour’s wishes in favoring the Kemper County plant. Posey must contend with Democratic opponents Bruce Burton and Addie Green, and Independent Danny Ayers, however. Burton and Ayers could not be reached, while Green did not return calls by press time.

Presley faces no primary candidate, but is up against either Boyce Adams Jr. or Marvin Cox after the winner survives the Republican primary. A Tea Party of Mississippi founding member, Cox pushes no real issues on his campaign website (http://www.votemarvincox.com), but touts himself as a “Christian Conservative Republican who seeks to provide better access to commissioners and staff.” His website reveals no insight he may have upon PSC business.

Adams, who co-owns with his father a bank software developer BankTEL Systems, has a Vanderbilt University bachelor’s degree in economics and political science. On his website (http://www.boyceadams.com), he says he worked in the George W. Bush White House focusing on presidential appointments to energy regulatory institutions. He plans to “keep energy costs low and maintain reliable energy sources.” He does not say whether he would have voted differently from Presley on any decisions.

Haley Barbour Sends Letters to Pressure Kemper Purchase on Ratepeyers

Commissioners Deny Barbour’s Influence

by Adam Lynch
June 23, 2010

Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller says that a letter from Gov. Haley Barbour to the Public Service Commission asking it to approve an experimental coal plant in Kemper County may have had an unseemly impact on Public Service Commissioners Leonard Bentz’ and Lynn Posey’s decision to increase the plant’s construction-cost cap by $480 million at the request of Mississippi Power Company.

“It’s not coincidental that the ‘flip flop’ occurred less than 72 hours after Governor Haley Barbour sent a strongly worded letter to the Commissioners insisting the plant get built,” Miller wrote in a statement. “It is also not lost on us that Barbour’s Washington lobby firm, Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, represents Southern Company, the parent company of Mississippi Power, who touted on their website they were responsible for lobbying the (U.S.) Department of Energy to land federal money for Kemper.”

Barbour stated in his May 24 letter that a PSC decision making the construction of the plant impossible would be “an awful, outrageous outcome.”

The Mississippi Sierra Club filed a June 17 lawsuit in Harrison County Chancery Court calling the PSC’s decision to raise the construction-cost cap of the plant by 20 percent “arbitrary and capricious.” The suit challenges the decision by Bentz and Posey to revise the original April 29 PSC decision capping construction expenses of the proposed coal-burning power plant at $2.4 billion.

Under the original decision, the stockholders of Mississippi Power, the company seeking to construct the plant, would have carried any costs above $2.4 billion. MPC complained, however, that they should be able to pass additional costs above $2.4 billion down to their ratepayers, and warned that they could not afford to build the plant if they were not allowed to do so.

When Bentz and Posey revised their decision May 26, they allowed the company to charge ratepayers an additional $480 million, or up to $2.88 billion for the plant—even though MPC did not release to the public the amount of the rate increases customers would shoulder or provide any documentation supporting the rate increase. Under comparable circumstances, Entergy Mississippi customer rates increased about 40 percent after construction of the similarly priced Grand Gulf nuclear reactor in the 1980s.

“The actions of the majority are arbitrary, capricious, beyond legal authority and unsupported by substantial evidence. These actions are contrary to governing statutes. The Commission’s decision granting the certificate and the May 26, 2010, order must be vacated,” the Sierra Club states in its motion.

The organization also demands that the court order the commission to act on an earlier motion that the Sierra Club filed with the PSC to make public how the plant affects rates, and to temporarily suspend the PSC decision allowing construction of the Kemper project pending a decision by the court.

Commissioner Bentz disputed Miller’s argument that Barbour held any power over his personal decision to upgrade the April 29 decision.

“When did the Sierra Club ever support anything that is progressive?” Bentz asked. “They have opposed this plant from the beginning. They talk about us flip-flopping and changing our minds, but that’s incorrect. We never denied the power company the right to build the plant, not in the first order and not in the second order.”

Commissioner Brandon Presley, who voted against both PSC decisions to allow the construction of the plant, said at a June press luncheon and in his May 26 dissent that the PSC had received no new information warranting the increase in the construction cap.

“It seems the only reason the majority changed its mind in this case is because Mississippi Power Company insisted,” Presley wrote in his May 26 dissent.

Bentz argued that MPC still must approach the PSC for approval before charging ratepayers anything more than the original $2.4 billion.

“Louie Miller is an idiot,” Bentz said. “Our decision does not automatically grant MPC a dime more than their original $2.4 billion price. They still have to come back to us if the cost goes beyond that and ask permission for that increase.”

But Presley says, however, that the PSC will undoubtedly approve the additional costs.

“The project costs more than (MPC’s) net worth. As soon as the cost goes north of $2.4 billion and you don’t approve the cost increase, we’ll bankrupt the company,” he said.

Bentz added that he was unaware of any influence from a letter by the governor, and said he was unfamiliar with the letter to which Miller referred. Presley, who said he submitted the letter into public record after receiving the document, said he had been unimpressed with the message. “My position is that if the administration in Washington and the state feels so confident about this plant let them come in and pay for it,” Presley said.

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/commissioners_deny_barbours_influence_062310/

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