Senator bias results in unsavory coal plant vote


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Hey ’Cats. I’ve got a bit of intrigue for you (and real intrigue, too, not just wondering who plastered Dillin with weepy poetry last week). Two weeks ago at the ASLC Senate, representatives from Greenfield, in conjunction with the Sierra Club, brought a resolution to be considered by the legislative body. The “Linfield Beyond Coal Resolution” would state that Linfield agrees that the Boardman Coal Field Plant (located in Boardman, Ore.) should be shut down and transitioned into a cleaner source of energy in 2014, six years sooner than PGE’s suggested 2020 date. As a resolution, it wouldn’t actually enforce an action but merely state the Senate’s position as a legislative body.
The resolution is part of a larger movement the Sierra Club is spearheading across Oregon. It plans to get as many universities and colleges to approve its version of the resolution as possible before taking them to the Public Utilities Commission hearing in late June. Hearing no opposition from the legislative body, the April 12 motion was tabled until the following week where it would go to a vote.
Fast forward to the Senate meeting April 19. The Sierra Club and Greenfield representatives returned to debate the resolution before the final vote but were met with significant opposition. A senator, junior Andrew Carpenter, took control of the discussion and rattled off a laundry list of statistics regarding the shutdown. Carpenter asserted that the 2014 date would cost taxpayers more money than the 2020 date, that the pollution levels are not as bad as the representatives claimed and that the energy lost could not immediately be replaced with any other source. He also claimed to have been in communication with PGE executives, who had furnished his statistics. The resolution was defeated soundly.
Freshman Tyler Gerlach, who helped present the resolution, had a few things to say to me about the questions brought up by the senator:
“The questions and statistics were ones that we, as a grassroots movement, couldn’t really answer,” Gerlach said. “He was almost uncomfortably prepared.”
Does anything about this story sound at all fishy to you? If not, try a Google search on “Andrew Carpenter PGE” and see what comes up. The first hit takes us to the Web page of Bruce Carpenter, PGE vice president of transmission and distribution services — in other words, Andrew’s father. That’s right Wildcats, the “PGE executive” that Carpenter claimed to be speaking to was likely his own father.
What does this tell us? Several things, all troubling. First, it shows us that in the week leading up to the vote, Carpenter Junior was pumping Daddy for stats or, more likely, getting fed stats by his father with which to shoot down the resolution. Assuming the latter is true, this means that PGE is taking this resolution seriously and actively trying to shoot it down whenever they can. More importantly, it means that PGE executives aren’t above cramming statistics down a student-senator’s throat so that he can throw them back up at a pliable and easily influenced body of students. I can’t think of a grosser misuse of corporate studies and power.
“[Carpenter] had studies that didn’t address parts of the issue that are relevant to our case,” Gerlach said. “But what could we do? We don’t have the means to do studies like that.”
Wow, way to go PGE. You used a student like a monkey wrench to defeat a resolution that could lead to you shutting down a coal plant and (God forbid!) help the environment. I know that you guys are only looking after your already overstuffed pocketbooks, but this is a little disgusting, even for you. You’d think that with your checkered history (see, part of the Enron scandal) you’d at least try to do something good for the world.
As for you, senator Carpenter, I wish I could say that your move wasn’t well played, but it was. You obviously knew that Sierra and Greenfield couldn’t shoot down cold, hard, corporate “bull” and, as such, played your hand accordingly. Well done, sir, but be warned: This is not the end. This reporter is fully in support of the Linfield Beyond Coal Resolution, and you better believe I’m coming to the next Senate meetings (alongside the Sierra Club and Greenfield) prepared with facts enough to counter your “statistics” and helping push this resolution through. Such facts exist, believe me, and without getting blindsided by your sneak attack, your figures can be knocked down with relative ease.
There’s one last thing I’d like to say. Not to get up on a soapbox, but logically, there is absolutely no reason not to take action to stop global warming. If it doesn’t exist, so we spent some money. If it does, we took steps to prevent what might have undone our entire global infrastructure as we know it. If we don’t take any action and this climate shift intensifies, as it well might, the executives at PGE and other such energy companies are going to be left as the wealthiest men on this charred ball of rock, scratching their heads and wondering who they can try to extort next now that everyone is dead.
I urge those in the ASLC Senate to vote for this resolution the next time it’s brought to the table. I’m not asking for money or a picket line around PGE, just a simple raised hand at the next meeting. Hell, you can even pick which one. People, do the logical thing and help the earth cover its ass. Anybody who wants to discuss, argue or affirm anything in this article, feel free to shoot me an e-mail ([email protected]), and we’ll talk. Until then, see you at the next Senate meeting.
Live long and prosper.

Christ Forrer Guest Columnist

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