When White House Correspondents Go Green, Follow the Money

by Richard Morrison on April 30, 2010

in Blog, Politics

In the Politico today, there’s a story about how the Natural Resources Defense Council is advising the White House Correspondents’ Association on how to “go green” with their annual dinner. They seem to be taking this very seriously:

Every two weeks, the greening team — including [NRDC senior scientist Allen] Hershkowitz and representatives from the Hilton — held a conference call to make sure every procurement decision and operation at the event would be as green as possible.

The story goes on to explain that they will be offsetting all of the energy use associated with the dinner – including the private jet to fly host Jay Leno out from L.A. and back. With advice from the Portland-based nonprofit the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, they’ve purchased an undisclosed amount of carbon credits. According to Politico‘s Lisa Lerer, “Credits purchased for the dinner will help fund the Tatanka Wind Farm on the North Dakota-South Dakota border.”

So far, so good. Except that the Tatanka Wind Farm is already up and running – it went online in July of 2008. The project’s $381 million budget was financed by GE Energy Financial Services and Wachovia. And it’s operated by Acciona Energy, a multi-billion dollar Spanish conglomerate with 40,000 employees and operations in 30 countries.

So, my question is, who is getting the White House Correspondents’ Association’s money? The shareholders of Acciona? GE and Wachovia (now Wells Fargo)? It’s one thing for carbon offset money to, for example, fund a nonprofit organization in the developing world to manage a reforestation project, but how does it make any sense to pay money to a Spanish corporation for operating a wind farm that’s already been privately financed and has been producing energy for almost two years? Am I missing something here?

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