Published on Portside (https://portside.org)
Lawmaker Says GE Told Him to Lie to Obscure Layoffs and Protect Subsidies
Friday, October 9, 2015
A General Electric executive is accused of pressuring a Wisconsin legislator to blame the closing of a facility in his state on the expiration of federal subsidies in order to sway public opinion, the legislator said this week.
State Rep. Scott Allen (R-WI) said that GE government relations executive Patrick Theisen told him to blame the closing of their Waukesha manufacturing facility on the recent expiration of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, which subsidized and financed the purchases of U.S. goods by foreign governments and corporations.
According to Allen, who represents the district where the plant was located, Theisen admitted that that explanation was a lie, and that the company has been pressing Congress to revive the Ex-Im Bank.
“Mr. Theisen was eager to connect me with his public relations department to help me gin up a press release blaming Congress and demanding they act,” Allen said. “In the same conversation, practically in the same breath, he told me that the decision on the Waukesha plant was made some time ago and that it was irreversible.”
Ex-Im expired this June after the Republican-led Congress declined to reauthorize its funding. GE is one of the largest-ever recipients of Ex-Im subsidies, which generally come in the form of loan guarantees or direct financing. As US Uncut previously reported , GE is one of the largest recipients of corporate welfare, receiving $35.8 billion  in government contracts between 2000 and 2012. Before its re-authorization was denied, the Ex-Im bank had a $112 billion  portfolio — 81 percent  of which went to multinational corporations. Two-thirds of the money earmarked for major corporations went to just ten  hugely profitable companies.
Critics pointed to Allen’s statement  as evidence of a pattern of deception by GE designed to increase political pressure on Congress to reauthorize the bank after a failed lobbying effort which entailed millions of dollars changing hands with key members of Congress.
When GE announced earlier this month that it was moving hundreds of jobs to France due to Ex-Im expiration, critics pointed out  that the project in question was already in the works last year.
GE currently employs 307,000 people worldwide, with only  131,000 of those in the U.S.
Source URL: https://portside.org/2015-10-10/lawmaker-says-ge-told-him-lie-obscure-layoffs-and-protect-subsidies
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Excerpt: "The Koch brothers, Duke Energy and Arizona Public Service are among 12 special interest groups waging aggressive anti-solar campaigns across the country, often coordinated and behind the scenes, a new Environment America Research and Policy Center report said today."
A worker inspects solar panels. (photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Koch Brothers + 11 Other Special Interest Groups Wage War on Solar
By Environment America, EcoWatch
10 October 15
The Koch brothers, Duke Energy and Arizona Public Service are among 12 special interest groups waging aggressive anti-solar campaigns across the country, often coordinated and behind the scenes, a new Environment America Research and Policy Center report said today.
While American solar power has increased four-fold since 2010, state by state, utilities and powerful industry front groups have begun chipping away at key policies that helped spur this solar boom, according to the analysis, “Blocking the Sun: 12 Utilities and Fossil Fuel Interests That Are Undermining American Solar Power.”
“Fossil-fuel interests and their allies have been using the same playbook to undermine solar power across the country,” said Bret Fanshaw, the solar program coordinator for Environment America. “And they’ve largely been operating in the shadows.”
The playbook: a national network of utility interest groups and fossil fuel industry-funded think tanks provides funding, model legislation and political cover for anti-solar campaigns. The report examines five of these major national players—Edison Electric Institute, American Legislative Exchange Council, Koch brothers and their front group Americans for Prosperity, Heartland Institute and Consumer Energy Alliance.
Then, in state after state, electric utilities use the support provided by these national anti-solar interests, supplemented by their own ample resources, to attack key solar energy policies. The report features seven utilities—Arizona Public Service, Duke Energy, American Electric Power, Berkshire Hathaway Industries, Salt River Project, FirstEnergy and We Energies.
The Koch Brothers graphic by Environment America. (photo: EcoWatch)
“We found that most attacks on solar energy happen behind closed doors in utility agencies or in dense regulatory filings—away from public view,” said Gideon Weissman of the Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “That’s probably because they’re aimed at very popular policies that give regular consumers the chance to go solar.”
Charles and David Koch have an enormous financial stake in the fossil fuel industry through their company Koch Industries and its many subsidiaries. Koch Industries alone operates around 4,000 miles of pipeline, along with oil refineries in Alaska, Minnesota and Texas.
Through its front group Americans for Prosperity and funding to other like-minded entities, the Koch brothers have attacked solar laws in several states including Florida, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona, Minnesota, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.
A graphic on FirstEnergy by Environment America. (photo: EcoWatch)
Utilities like Arizona Public Service augment resources from interests like the Kochs to forward an anti-solar agenda. Arizona Public Service admitted to funding anti-solar ads by 60 plus, a national Koch-backed front group that purports to represent seniors and it has been accused of improper influence with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
“I’ve seen first-hand how some energy monopolies have used money in campaigns to intimidate and manipulate policy makers and elected officials,” said Rep. Ken Clark, a state representative from Arizona who has pushed Arizona Public Service to disclose its political spending. “Aside from the question of renewable energy, this activity has become a threat to our electoral system.”
Arizona Public Service’s latest stealth move against solar has been to withdraw its request to raise fees on solar owners until the commission completes a study that would only examine costs and not benefits, of the resource.
In Florida, where solar capacity is far beneath its potential, Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and Duke Energy, the largest utility in the U.S., have teamed up to block pro-solar policies. Duke Energy spent heavily to help re-elect Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned against a state renewable electricity standard. Americans for Prosperity has mobilized its members and waged an aggressive ad campaign against a ballot initiative to expand rooftop solar by allowing third-party sales of panels. Duke Energy has also contributed to that effort.
A graphic on Duke Energy by Environment America. (photo: EcoWatch)
The anti-solar coalition Consumers for Smart Solar, backed by Americans for Prosperity, Duke Energy and others, has now put forward a competing ballot measure in Florida to undermine the rooftop solar amendment.
“By wide margins, Americans support pro-solar policies,” said Fanshaw. “That’s why fossil fuel interests and their front groups have resorted to shady and deceptive tactics to undermine them. Ultimately it will be up to state leaders to reject these attacks and support a clean energy future.”
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