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Convention carbon offsets as "green" as bottom line

Democrats can't get to Denver without dumping carbon into the air. They're washing away the sins of transportation and electrification by purchasing carbon offsets from a Vermont-based broker called NativeEnergy. ...This modern-day indulgence is officially called the "Green Delegate Challenge." For a mere $7.50, delegates and attendees can buy a carbon offset, making them at least theoretically responsible for new alternative energy. They can then forget about the emissions from jets, limos, buses, trains and taxis they take to Denver. They also can flash the lights, crank up the soundstages and rock 'n' roll like the dominant force they've become with that rhetoric about saving the planet.

Democrats can't get to Denver without dumping carbon into the air.

They're washing away the sins of transportation and electrification by purchasing carbon offsets from a Vermont-based broker called NativeEnergy. Some of this money will help pay off a $1.6 million wind turbine owned by a school district on the windswept plains of Wray. But right now, the wind turbine doesn't work.

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter blessed it during a ribbon-cutting in February - but technicians are still scrambling to get it generating electricity before the last week of August, when the Dems hit Denver for their national convention.

This modern-day indulgence is officially called the "Green Delegate Challenge." For a mere $7.50, delegates and attendees can buy a carbon offset, making them at least theoretically responsible for new alternative energy. They can then forget about the emissions from jets, limos, buses, trains and taxis they take to Denver. They also can flash the lights, crank up the soundstages and rock 'n' roll like the dominant force they've become with that rhetoric about saving the planet.

"This convention will be the greenest, most sustainable, most successful political convention in history," Nancy... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Democrats can't get to Denver without dumping carbon into the air.

They're washing away the sins of transportation and electrification by purchasing carbon offsets from a Vermont-based broker called NativeEnergy. Some of this money will help pay off a $1.6 million wind turbine owned by a school district on the windswept plains of Wray. But right now, the wind turbine doesn't work.

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter blessed it during a ribbon-cutting in February - but technicians are still scrambling to get it generating electricity before the last week of August, when the Dems hit Denver for their national convention.

This modern-day indulgence is officially called the "Green Delegate Challenge." For a mere $7.50, delegates and attendees can buy a carbon offset, making them at least theoretically responsible for new alternative energy. They can then forget about the emissions from jets, limos, buses, trains and taxis they take to Denver. They also can flash the lights, crank up the soundstages and rock 'n' roll like the dominant force they've become with that rhetoric about saving the planet.

"This convention will be the greenest, most sustainable, most successful political convention in history," Nancy Pelosi, House speaker and convention chair, promised in an April news release. "The Green Delegate Challenge is a critical part of that effort."

There is nothing greener than money. But NativeEnergy doesn't disclose its profit margins, its earnings, its revenue or even its costs.

"We're a privately held company," Billy Connelly, marketing director, explained. "We've been credited in a number of studies for being transparent with everything, except for financials."

Umm, aren't financials the most critical part of transparency?

"We're in a competitive industry," Connelly said. "We typically bid against many of our competitors, so disclosing our financials doesn't make sense."

The company boasts of being owned by Indian tribes, but it's also owned by "socially responsible" entrepreneurs committed to the "doing-well-by-doing-good" mantra.

"We're not just trying to make money," Connelly said. "We're trying to help solve the climate crisis."

So is Harrah's casinos, which aligned with NativeEnergy to offset carbon emissions from the World Series of Poker in July. If you're going to build gleaming, air-conditioned palaces in the desert just to play cards, why not? Hard Rock's "2008 Ambassadors of Rock Tour," featuring Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow and others, is using NativeEnergy too. So is Ben & Jerry's and Stonyfield Farm. But these decisions boil down to trust.

"These are folks who would not risk their reputations by working with any carbon-offset provider that wasn't the best-in-class," said Connelly, "because they would be under the microscope. And that's why we're working with the DNC."

Which is now under the microscope - at least for Republicans.

FaceTheState, the website that broke the news of the broken turbine, called it a DNC boondoggle. It quoted Wray's Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy, saying: "Nobody likes to be misled. The 'green' DNC convention is an absolute sham."

The turbine - from a Danish manufacturer and a Canadian distributor - is hardly a stand against globalism, either. But it will be running by mid-August, said Ron Howard, superintendent of the Wray School District. "Some people feel like it's a hoax," he said. "But it's sitting up there on the hill, and it's just a work in progress."

Technicians are replacing a faulty power converter ensconced in its tower. But the DNC knew it wasn't ready when it signed on to the project.

"I told NativeEnergy and the DNC it was not running," Howard said. "I think their whole deal was, 'Well, it will be running. We'll go ahead and use that story' because it is a very feel-good kind of story in the state of Colorado.' "

The school district might have been better off selling offsets from high-rolling poker players in Vegas than a bunch of grandstanding Democrats in Denver. "It's getting slammed," Howard said. "It's become political."

All he wanted to do was help out his cash-strapped schools and educate kids along the way.

The troubled turbine isn't the only project the DNC is funding with its carbon offsets. The DNC offsets also are funding three operating alternative-energy projects in Illinois, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, Connelly said. Nevertheless, it is becoming a powerful symbol of what critics call greenwashing. Eric Sutherland, an anti- greenwashing activist in Fort Collins, says it's too bad because he thinks the turbine will work.

"It is not uncommon for the media to take pot shots at the nansy- pansy liberalism that embraces all things green," Sutherland said.

Still, he says, this episode raises a salient question: "Do we have the intellectual honesty to objectively measure the magnitude of climate change, resource depletion, etc., and gauge the necessary response?"


Source: http://www.denverpost.com/h...

AUG 2 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16319-convention-carbon-offsets-as-green-as-bottom-line
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