Global Warming - An Enron Scam?

I was maing my daily browse through , when a link to this site caught my eye:

The article on this page seems to be claiming that Enron was pushing environmental groups and encouraging fear of global warming in order to gain acceptance for their own (expensive and more profitable) alternative fuels and energy sources.
Since Clinton pushed the Kyoto treaty, and Bush scuttled it, wouldn’t that seem to make Clinton a big business dupe? It would also seem to relieve President Bush from some of the accusations of big business influence.
What I am trying to ask here is actually rather simple:
Is there any truth to what the referenced site is claiming, or is it a load of crap?
I have tried to find the referenced info from The Washington Post, but I’ve had no luck.
I placed this question here (rather than in General Questions) because of its inherent political nature - I foresee facts being brought up, but lots of arguing going on.
It will probably be a while before I can get back to this - my lunch break is over and I’ll have to check back from home later this evening.

The original source material would seem to be invaluable here, as the linked column is long on insinuation and short on substance. For instance, how exactly would Enron have benefited hugely from Kyoto ratification by the United States?

The fact that certain corporations desire to benefit from “green” movements doesn’t automatically place the goals of those movements and the science behind them into question, though the motives of companies like ADM are certainly worth examining. In another arena, herbicide manufacturers have been cited as enthusiastically backing efforts by “anti-exotic plant pest” groups to remove invasive “alien” species from nature preserves. The heavy use of herbicides in these efforts is concerning, but that isn’t sufficient to label the entire anti-invasive plant movement a “scam”.

I’d be likely to dismiss as the ravings of a loon any statement in which the global warming issue (which has been a matter of serious debate for decades) was, somehow, “created” by Enron–a company of no size or significance (in a completely different segment of the fuel industry) when global warming first became a hot topic.

The article mentioned seems more likely to have appeared in The Washingtron Times than The Washington Post.

Enron’s alternative energy division was never seriously funded by Enron, so why would they be plotting to push Kyoto to make alternatives more attractive, when they would have to start at the same point as anyone else? (In other words, if they wanted to dominate that business sector, they should have been investing heavily in the technology so that if Kyoto did make it into U.S. or international law, they would actually have a product–something they do not appear to have done.)

Further, Clinton never “pushed” Kyoto. He did the same thing that the overwhelming number of European leaders did: he gave it a lot of lip service for PR considerations, but never actually tried to line up the votes in the Senate and never submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification.
Bush’s sin regarding Kyoto was not that he killed it, but that he killed it first and then announced that he would set up a committe to provide alternatives. Had he set up the committee to “review” Kyoto and then used their report to offer an alternative, he would have looked a lot smarter. The way that he killed Kyoto demonstrated that he was taking orders from his oil bidness buddies.

As I’m sure jshore will soon be along to point out, if global warming is an “Enron scam”, how did Enron manage to convince all those scientists on the IPCC and the NAS to go along with it and write thousands of pages of reports treating it as a genuine scientific phenomenon? (This is not the first time that allegations from have turned out to be highly questionable; “junk science” as far as they’re concerned seems simply to mean any findings that are unfavorable to business interests.)

Wow. All I can say is … wow. What an amazingly fraudulent article. The article took one actual fact - that Enron supported Kyoto - and spun two huge lies out of it.

The first lie is why Enron supported Kyoto. The reason - which I have learned from probably a dozen news sources - was not to give greater value to Enron’s holdings in alternative energy sources, whatever they may have been. Instead, the reason was simpler. Enron was primarily a trading firm, and it hoped that implementation of Kyoto would create a market in the trading of carbon credits - a system under which companies who could more cheaply reduce the amount of CO2 they produced could sell credits for those reductions to companies less able to reduce credits. This system has been used for years for the reduction of other pollutants, and it works to reduce pollution. Enron hoped to profit from a carbon credit system by acting as middleman and market-maker.

The second Big Lie is the supposition that big business support of Kyoto means that global warming is a lie. That’s ludicrous. Just about any change in government policy means profits for somebody. When the Superfund was created, it meant considerably more business for corporations involved in environmental clean-ups. The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts meant a huge increase in profitability for companies who made filters.
None of that meant that there weren’t toxic waste sites in need of cleanup, nor that air and water pollution weren’t serious problems. It simply meant that somebody was going to be paid to help solve the problems - a fact so self-obvious that it isn’t really worthy of comment. Similarly here, the fact that Enron hoped to profit from helping to solve the problem of global warming has no relevance to the existence of that problem.


I think the article’s very clever. Not because it’s valid; naturally it’s not, however there’s something very cunning going on there (in an evil-genius sort of way).

By linking global warming to Enron, the article alleges that the many documented falsehoods of Enron have a mirror image in the (alleged) falsehood of global warming, i.e. if Enron was a big fat lie, so must global warming be a big fat lie.

But if global warming is a big fat lie, then fossil fuels as we know them now are actually good for us, right? Therefore, there’s no need to make the oil companies spend the tens of billions of dollars needed for them to produce a more “atmosphere-friendly” fuel.

The status quo thus being determined as completely hunky-dory, Big Oil maintains its stock values etc. and it follows that it would be quite OK to drill for MORE oil wherever it may hide; for example, Alaska’s ANWR or Florida’s Gulf Coast. That’s what “competitive enterprises” do, after all (the author “Christopher C. Horner is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute”). They are allowed to “compete” (code for “exist free of any regulations”).

Enron, having served out its political and economic usefulness to Big Oil’s best interests (though far too late exposed as a fraud), is by this article being thrown under the proverbial bus (insult heaped upon injury) in order to justify allowing Big Oil to do basically whatever it wants to. The article implies that anything big business wants must be bad for people. Meanwhile, it makes an argument for what is ultimately in big business’ best interests! Why, a person might actually come away feeling sympathy for Big Oil!

Evil, yes, but a truly impressive spin job.

What Kimstu and SuaSponte said. I find it amusing that the one time that people like and the Competitive Enterprise Institute actually notice a company lobbying in regards to an environmental policy is in the less common case where a company is actually supporting said environmental policy rather than opposing it. Fascinating. [By the way, I agree with Kimstu’s assessment of or, as I like to put it a little more succiently, it is a site that is quite well-named in that much of what it disseminates is “junk science” (while, of course, claiming to debunk junk science).]

At any rate, Mort Furd, if you want to catch up on the global climate change issue, you can check out this recent thread that I poured a lot of time and energy [renewable :wink: ] into: