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19 октября, 13:00

Research: Who’s Lobbying Congress on Climate Change

To many, political lobbying is seen as a way to advance special interests at the expense of the greater good. So when it comes to lobbying on climate change, the prevailing public view is that most firms lobby against climate regulations — such as those aiming to curb carbon emissions — because greater regulation threatens industry. It’s not hard to see why this might be. Consider the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest lobbying organization, which spent over $90 million lobbying against climate change legislation in 2014 — more than any organization, based on our analysis. That same year, one of the highest-polluting utilities, Southern Company, spent an estimated $9 million on climate change lobbying. This is one reason why Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse recently called for more corporate lobbyists to aid the climate movement. However, because lobbying data has only been recently made electronically available, there’s been little analysis of which firms are lobbying most and on what issue. My co-authors, Jinghui Lim and Nick Nairn-Birch, and I examined Lobbying Disclosure Act data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, to see which firms actually lobby on climate change, and how much they spend. Specifically, we wanted to determine whether it’s true that only heavy greenhouse gas emitters (“brown” firms) lobby, or whether green firms (lower greenhouse gas emitters) are also active. We analyzed lobbying expenditure data and greenhouse gases emission data on 1,141 U.S.-based firms. We focused on the years 2006 to 2009, as it was a period of intense climate lobbying — the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed in the House of Representatives in June 2009, but was not taken up in the Senate. There have been no major climate bills since then, despite some initiatives to combat climate change in the Obama administration. We are able to focus on lobbying spending that was specific to climate change, by examining the issue descriptions filed with lobbying reports. We flagged words related to climate change, such as “climate,” “global warming,” and “greenhouse,” as well as the names and numbers of climate-related bills. If we found climate-related key words, bill names, or bill numbers in the issue descriptions, we coded the amount as climate lobbying spending. We should note that one serious deficiency with Lobbying Disclosure Act data is that it doesn’t include whether a company lobbied for or against a specific regulation. So we only know how much was spent. Our results, published in August in the Academy of Management Discoveries, show that both brown and green firms are active in lobbying. We found a U-shaped relationship between greenhouse gases emissions and lobbying, which means that the highest and the lowest greenhouse gas emitters spent the most on lobbying related to climate change. Meanwhile, companies that had average levels of emissions spent the least on lobbying, perhaps due to having less to gain or lose from potential changes in laws. Between 2006 and 2009, the firms in our sample spent over $1 billion dollars lobbying on climate-related bills and issues. In our data, the usual suspects were most active in climate lobbying: companies in the automobiles and parts sector spent an average of approximately $1.8 million lobbying against climate change-related regulations per year, followed by the utilities sector ($1.1 million), oil and gas sector ($0.8 million), and basic resources sector ($0.8 million). However, our data also shows greater lobbying activity among greener firms within these same industries, perhaps because their firms can leverage new regulations to gain a competitive advantage over industry rivals. For example, one of the greenest utilities in the nation, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) spent the second highest amount (an estimated $27 million) of all firms lobbying on climate change in 2008 — just behind ExxonMobil, which spent $29 million lobbying and produces an estimated 306 Million tons of GHG emissions. PG&E openly supported a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, and even left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the organization’s vociferous opposition to carbon regulation. Additionally, we also found a similar relationship between the percentage of spending on outside lobbyists and emissions: firms at the highest and lowest ends of emissions spent more on outside lobbyists (as opposed to keeping efforts in-house) relative to firms that have average emissions. One possible explanation for this could be that, similar to hiring consultants for their expertise, outside firms are hired as specialists when an issue such as climate change is of paramount importance to a firm. The evidence suggests that lobbying is not only conducted by firms opposing regulation, but also by those who want to change a system seen as too rigid. With massive economic interests at stake with each regulation aimed at curbing climate change, it comes as no surprise that vast sums are spent to petition government about them. Since the end of our study period, data from the Center for Responsive Politics (which was in turn derived from the Senate Office of Public Records) shows that more than $3.1 billion was spent lobbying on environmental issues from 2009 to 2014, the most recent period for which data are available. As lobbying can be a valuable component in the public decision-making process, companies are even getting customers in on the act: for example, Tesla insists that owners’ clubs aid in lobbying efforts, and Airbnb enlisted hosts for its fierce political fight in New York. A 2013 study found that two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions were produced by only 90 companies. For international efforts to slow climate change to truly be successful, getting businesses on board will be crucial. And it’s important for companies to recognize that lobbying can be an important part of their sustainability strategy.

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07 октября, 15:56

3 Best Mid-Cap Value Mutual Funds to Buy Now

Below we share with you three top-rated mid-cap value mutual funds. Each has earned a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

21 сентября, 16:11

5 Stocks to Avoid if the Fed Hikes Rates

Utility sector companies may be adversely impacted by an increase in interest rates as it would raise the borrowing costs considerably, weighing on profits which in turn will affect the dividend-paying capacity of these companies.

18 августа, 17:10

Stock Market News for August 18, 2016

Benchmarks closed in the green on Wednesday after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s July 26-27 policy meeting indicated that policy makers were divided over their views on rate hikes

11 августа, 18:14

Jerry Brown's Dirty Hands

Governor Brown has traveled the world speaking out against climate change. However a shocking new review of the Brown Administration's actions shows they've often helped oil, gas and utility companies at the expense of the environment and the consumer, and that contributions from the companies often followed within days. Consumer Watchdog's report, "Brown's Dirty Hands," chronicles how Brown and his top appointees used the California Democratic Party as a slush fund, sucking in contributions from unpopular energy companies in close proximity, and sometimes on the same day, that his Administration helped those companies in controversial ways. Twenty-six energy companies including Occidental, Chevron, NRG and the state's three major investor-owned utilities - all with business before the state -- donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown's campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor. Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors. The three major investor-owned utilities alone contributed nearly $6 million. Between 2011 and 2014, the energy companies tracked by Brown's Dirty Hands donated $4.4 million to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party gave $4.7 million to Brown's re-election. Earmarking contributions to the political parties is not allowed under state law. The record of a clear pass-through here should have the Fair Political Practices Commission's ears burning. In addition to the eerily similar amount of money in and money out of the Party, Brown's top staffers-Executive Secretary Nancy McFadden and former Cabinet Secretary Dana Williamson, both former PG&E executives, were paid roughly $100,000 each by the California Democratic Party for consulting and fundraising services at various times between 2013 and 2016. Evidence strongly suggests that the timing of certain donations may have elicited or rewarded legislative or regulatory action on behalf of these companies. Among the most egregious examples detailed in the report: •Southern California Edison donated $130,000 to the California Democratic Party, its largest contribution up until that time, on the same day PUC President Michael Peevey cut a secret deal with an SCE executive in Warsaw, Poland to make ratepayers cover 70 percent of the $4.7 billion cost to close the fatally flawed San Onofre nuclear plant. Brown backed the dirty deal, telling Edison's CEO personally, according to an email from the CEO uncovered by the Public Records Act, that he was willing to tell the media on the day of the plant's shuttering that the company was acting responsibly and focused on the right things. Three days prior to SCE's announcement that it would close San Onofre permanently, the company donated $25,000 to the California Democratic Party. •Emails from PG&E's top lobbyist Brian Cherry to his boss claim that Brown personally intervened with a PUC Commissioner to persuade him to approve a natural gas-fired power plant called Oakley for the utility. In a January 1, 2013 email, Cherry described a New Year's Eve dinner with Peevey where Peevey reminded him "how he and Governor Brown used every ounce of persuasion to get [Commissioner Mark] Ferron to change his mind and vote for Oakley...Jerry's direct plea was decisive." PG&E donated $20,000 to the California Democratic Party the day after the PUC voted for the project. An appeals court would later strike down the decision because PG&E had not proved its necessity. •While PG&E's lobbyist and then-PUC President Michael Peevey fed names to Brown's executive secretary, former PG&E vice president Nancy McFadden, to appoint the critical swing-vote PUC commissioner who would cast pro-utility votes, PG&E donated $75,000 to the California Democratic Party. The same day that Brown appointed ex-banker Mark Ferron to the commission, PG&E donated another $41,500. The appointment lifted the value of PG&E's stock and the PG&E stock held by McFadden and valued as high as $1 million. •Chevron donated $135,000 to the California Democratic Party the same day lawmakers exempted a common method of well stimulation from legislation meant to regulate fracking. After the bill passed with an amendment dropping a moratorium on fracking permits, Occidental gave $100,000 to one of Brown's favorite causes, the Oakland Military Institute. Brown signed the weakened bill. On December 23, 2013, Chevron donated $350,000 to the Democratic Party. On December 30, the Democratic Party donated $300,000 to Brown for Governor 2014, while Chevron donated the maximum to Brown's campaign, $54,400, on the same day. Less than two months later, Brown came out publicly to oppose a proposed oil severance tax. The weakened fracking bill also helped Nancy McFadden who held up to $100,000 in Linn Energy that would acquire Berry Petroleum and its 3,000 California fracking wells. •Occidental's attorney, former Governor Gray Davis, successfully pressured Brown to fire two oil and gas regulators who wouldn't grant oil waste injection permits without proof that aquifers would not be contaminated. Two months later, when Brown's new interim oil and gas supervisor granted Occidental a permit without an environmental review, Occidental contributed $250,000 to Prop 30, Brown's ballot measure to raise taxes, then another $100,000 two weeks later to his favored Oakland Military Institute. Seven months later, Occidental made a second $250,000 donation to Prop 30. •Brown's climate change bill, SB 350, gave utilities a monopoly on electric vehicle infrastructure and large-scale renewable energy projects by excluding rooftop solar from the state's renewable portfolio standard. Three weeks after a last-minute amendment granting utilities access to a regional grid, PG&E donated $80,000 to the Democratic Party. The utility donated another $50,000 three weeks after the bill was chaptered. Utility stocks increased by at least 14 percent within two months. •Power plant developer NRG wasn't a Brown donor until the company cut a sweetheart deal with the PUC to settle the state's case over its 2001 electricity price manipulation, touted as a win by the Governor's office. Rather than paying back the state, the company was allowed to spend $100 million of its $120 million fine to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Two months later, NRG began donations to Brown, his causes, and his party that would come to $105,000. A lawsuit against the PUC, filed by electric charging station competitor Ecotality, called the deal illegal because it awarded a monopoly to an out-of-state company. •Lawmakers sent Brown a package of six PUC reform bills in 2015 which would have increased oversight, transparency and accountability at the PUC, and received unanimous, bipartisan support. Brown vetoed the reform bills on October 12, 2015. One week later, PG&E donated $50,000 to the Democratic Party. In December, PG&E donated another $175,000 to the Party. Jerry Brown's family and other personal ties to industry insiders also appear to play a role in his Administration's decisions to promote the interests of the utilities and the oil and gas industry at the expense of consumers. Brown's sister, Kathleen, was given a seat on Sempra's board of directors in June 2013, just as lawmakers amended fracking legislation to drop a moratorium on fracking permits. As of April 2016, Kathleen Brown had earned $691,300 for her board service at Sempra, parent company of Southern California Gas which is responsible for the massive Aliso Canyon natural gas well blowout that caused the biggest methane leak in U.S. history. Governor Brown issued an emergency order that ensured secrecy around the blowout investigation, has waged a campaign through his energy regulators to keep Aliso open and has kept information and data involving the blowout secret from the public. Sempra stock has increased by 116% since Brown took office, more than any other utility. Kathleen Brown also served on the board of real estate and oil company Forestar Group-which owns 700 acres next to Porter Ranch, a community drastically affected by the leak, where Forestar plans to build luxury homes, and another 1,000 acres of oil and gas interests in California. Kathleen holds $749,000 worth of Forestar stock. She now sits on the board of Renew Financial, a private funder of renewable energy projects that stands to benefit from SB 350. She stepped down from Forestar one month after Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency at Aliso Canyon. The report also details how Governor Brown supported, appointed and hired a group of old hands from previous administrations and the energy industry that have played a role in policies promoting the fossil-fuel natural gas system. Dirty Handshttp://www.consumerwatchdog.org/dirtyhands is a critical read for anyone who really wants to understand how politicians can talk the talk, but often walk a different walk. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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10 августа, 03:54

Фирма PG&E в США признана виновной в обмане следствия по делу о взрыве на газопроводе

Присяжные сочли компанию виновной в "препятствованию установления истины и нарушениях техники безопасности", в том числе в намеренной ложной классификации степени аварийности газопровода

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05 августа, 17:12

Ameren (AEE) Beats on Q2 Earnings, Raises 2016 Guidance

Ameren Corporation (AEE) posted second-quarter 2016 earnings from continuing operations of 61 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 53 cents by 15.1%.

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05 августа, 16:41

OGE Energy (OGE) Misses on Q2 Earnings but Revenues Up

OGE Energy Corp. (OGE) reported second-quarter 2016 earnings of 35 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 41 cents by 14.6%.

05 августа, 16:38

Consolidated Edison (ED) Q2 Earnings Miss, Maintains View

Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) posted second-quarter 2016 adjusted earnings of 60 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 72 cents by 16.7%.

05 августа, 15:17

Hawaiian Electric (HE) Beats on Q2 Earnings, Keeps View

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HE) reported adjusted earnings of 43 cents per share in the second quarter of 2016, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 41 cents.

04 августа, 19:18

Duke Energy (DUK) Tops Q2 Earnings Estimates, View Same

Duke Energy Corporation (DUK) reported second-quarter 2016 adjusted earnings of $1.07 per share that came in above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.01 by 5.9%.

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03 августа, 05:21

В США суд сократил до $6 млн размер штрафа компании PG&E за взрыв на ее газопроводе

В результате аварии 10 сентября 2010 года произошел мощный взрыв, после чего образовался огненный столб высотой около 300 м, погибли восемь человек, более 50 получили ожоги и травмы

03 августа, 04:12

Prosecutors Let Utility Out Of Massive Fine In Deadly California Gas Explosion

SAN FRANCISCO ― Federal prosecutors quietly filed court papers Tuesday that may save a utility company from paying $562 million in fines for a pipeline explosion that killed eight people in 2010.  The stunning move, as a jury in a criminal case against Pacific Gas & Electric deliberated for a fourth day, means the company now faces a maximum federal fine of $6 million, instead of $562 million, if it is convicted in one of the worst disasters of its kind in history. The jury is considering 13 criminal charges stemming from the blowout and fire that destroyed 38 homes in suburban San Bruno.  Pursuing the half-billion-dollar fine would have required prosecutors to present the jury with complicated instructions to determine how much the utility had saved by breaking safety regulations, according to The Mercury News. The court filing didn’t explain why prosecutors abandoned that strategy. But the move surprised officials representing San Bruno, a suburb south of San Francisco. “There may be a reason based on legal strategy to seek severely diminished fines if PG&E is found guilty in this trial,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill (D), who represents the area. “But for many, myself included, there is no reason that can justify this move when weighed against lives of the eight people who perished when the PG&E pipeline in San Bruno exploded in September 2010 ― after PG&E repeatedly put its profits ahead of public safety and service.”   Prosecutors have accused the utility of violating federal pipeline safety regulations and keeping inaccurate records. Engineers and company officials knowingly increased pressure in aging pipelines and failed to conduct expensive tests, according to testimony in the trial. PG&E then obstructed the federal investigation into the blast, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch. Stretch’s office didn’t respond to The Huffington Post’s inquiries Tuesday. “Regardless of this action or the next legal steps, we want our customers and their families to know that we are committed to re-earning their trust by acting with integrity and working around the clock to provide them with energy that is safe, reliable, affordable and clean,” a PG&E spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.   PG&E has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Defense attorneys contend no one at the company deliberately sidestepped safety measures. San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson said securing a guilty verdict is more important than the size of the fine.  “Not being subject to the potential $500-million-plus fine can look like giving PG&E a pass,” Jackson said. “But we’re not critical of the prosecutor for doing what he did today. “We are interested in a guilty verdict that will remain a black mark on the seal of PG&E that will be an inducement for them and the industry to increase safety,” Jackson said.  California’s Public Utilities Commission imposed a record fine of $1.6 billion on PG&E in September for the blast. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

02 августа, 16:58

Entergy Corporation (ETR) Tops Q2 Earnings, Revises View

Entergy Corporation (ETR) reported second-quarter 2016 operational earnings of $3.11 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.03 by 201.9%.

29 июля, 18:53

IDACORP (IDA) Beats on Q2 Earnings, Keeps 2016 Guidance

IDACORP's (IDA) operating earnings of $1.12 per share in the second quarter of 2016 surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 98 cents by 14.3%.

28 июля, 22:32

PG&E Corp. (PCG) Q2 Earnings, Revenues Miss Estimates

PG&E Corp.'s (PCG) second-quarter earnings and total revenues were lower than estimates.

28 июля, 17:28

PG&E Corporation (PCG) Misses Earnings Estimates in Q2

PG&E Corporation???s (PCG) second quarter earnings were lower than the earnings estimates.