Video: How one Australian coal company squares its values with its action

You know that the carbon lords are duty-bound to screw us, right? They call it their fiduciary obligation.

It’s their duty to make money (“maximize profit“).

They say it’s the law, literally.

Most  CEOs pretend to take their share-holders into account, but in fact, members of the CEO class (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) are, in the aggregate, the real owners of today’s corporations — and most of them control their corps for their own benefit first.

They purchase outlandish salaries from hand-picked corporate Boards of Directors, and in return reward those Directors handsomely from the corporate purse. (Do click; I’ll bet you didn’t know ex–”public servant” Sam Nunn was in on that game, to the tune of just under $1 million/year in pocket money. For the details of the director game as played by people like Nunn, scan down to Nunn’s days as a Director at Coke. Thanks to Dean Baker for a great series; here’s another.)

But CEOs are people too, right? So what’s a CEO-type to do when his or her human values (i.e.,duty to protect the livability of the planet) conflict with her or his corporate obligations.

Here’s one answer. Don’t click this at the office — just saying. The CEOs are … impertinent … in their solution. Do feel free to laugh out loud though.

As you can see, a work of genius. Here’s just one example of the wonderful irony in this fine piece:

(At 2:30) CEO: “There will come a day when my moral choices will no longer be beholden to the shareholders. And a wave of profound regret … and sorrow … will engulf me, as I realize, with painful clarity, the enormity of the damage I have perpetrated on humanity. ...” 

So carefully calculated, so perfectly cynical, you’d almost think a PR firm wrote it. Note the question at the end:

What is your investment dollar doing?

It is an important question. I’ll have more on divestment campaigns shortly.

You know their plan is to screw you, then die, right? That’s literally true. All this bunch ever wants these days is to win. Just win.

Perhaps the days of (us, or a president) asking nicely should be over. Just a thought, of course. But if you agree, keep all this in mind when 2016 rolls around. If we’re still getting screwed in 2020, and if it’s then too late to fix the problem, will it matter which party kept the game in place?

Again, just a thought.

Some coal facts

To give you some perspective on this dirtiest of dirty carbons, here are some facts about coal costs:

▪ $40 billion — Amount all U.S. utilities spend every year to buy coal. (Source; article by the amazing Randy Udall, now deceased. I tried to find it in the stupid EIA reports, but they bury this stuff.)

▪ $160 billion — Value of electricity sold every year from U.S. utilities for coal-fired power. (Source; same article.)

▪ $530 billion — Health and other damages every year. (Source; Harvard, Dr. Paul Epstein.)

▪ $50 billion — Market cap of the U.S. coal industry. (Source (pdf). This report is a bit old, 2010, but better to overvalue than undervalue. Also see for amazing coal reports.)

▪ 3 cents: Cost for the average U.S. utility to make one coal-fired kilowatt-hour (kWh).

▪ 17-27 cents: Damage done by every coal-fired kWh (Source: Epstein again.)

So, four-fold ROI, and a five-to-ten times ratio of market cap/cost-per kWh to the damage done. If they paid their externalized costs, they’d be out of business. But again, they should be out of business, right?

Helpfully provided by energy regulatory consultant Nancy LaPlaca via email. Thanks!


Twitter: @Gaius_Publius. Facebook: Gaius Publi.

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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