Feb 26 2006
08:31 am

I can't believe the Knoxville News Sentinel would print this Bill Baxter op-ed (registration required) on the front page of today's editorial section. Don't they have any editors or fact checkers over there?

In it, Baxter takes credit on behalf of TVA for some recent economic development, including the Denso expansion in Maryville, the new Aisin Auto facility in Clinton, and for Knoxville being ranked in the top 10 for business relocation by some obscure trade magazine.

He forgot to mention the millions in corporate welfare incentives local and state governments are handing out to make this happen. He also doesn't explain TVA's role in all this. Perhaps he's saying, hey, these guys wouldn't come here if we didn't have electricity. Sorry, FDR gets credit for that.

Baxter also says that TVA "wants to make sure we maintain and grow the steady supply of low-cost, reliable electricity."

He forgot to mention that in the past six months TVA has announced rate increases totaling nearly 18%. He mentions "reliable", so he can strike fear into the community by raising the specter of "brownouts in California and the Northeast" from which TVA is of course protecting you, so you can take comfort in that.

And electricity at what cost? Baxter says "TVA is investing $5.6 billion to reduce emissions at TVA's power plants" and "TVA's emissions already are down 78 percent -- and the air in the valley is cleaner."

Down 78% since when? 1959? And $5.6 billion over what time period? How much of that have they already been forced by the courts to spend (past tense v. "is investing")? Over how many years will the rest of it be spent?

Baxter and the KNS keep forgetting to tell you this every time they mention the $5.6 billion figure (which used to be "$1 million per day", which is $365 million per year, which doesn't sound as good as "$5.6 billion" in the powerball age). They also never mention how much of that is litigation expense related to TVA's ongoing fight against environmental regulations since 1970. You'd think somebody would ask those simple questions. Or ask why pollution controls are not even a line item in TVA's annual report?

As for actually reducing emissions, the biggest investment I can recall TVA making in the last year or so was installing SO2 scrubbers at Bull Run. That was $300 million, a rounding error in TVA's $7+ billion operations. In fact, under the Bush "Clear Skies" program, TVA sulfur dioxide emissions (which are destroying the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and eating the paint off your car) actually INCREASED from 2001 to 2003 (which is curiously the last year for which TVA has data on their website), and CO2 emissions (green house gas that causes global warming) continue to climb.

Baxter wraps up his KNS propaganda fax by saying how great Sen. Dr. Bill Frist and President Bush are for appointing "six outstanding new nominees" to the "modernized" and expanded TVA board. He forgets to mention that they are a bunch of unqualified GOP insiders. None has any background in environmental issues, and the first five had no experience at all in running a utility. There are no Democrats and no minorities in the bunch, either.

Which is really the point of this propaganda piece. The Senate finally exercised their oversight responsibility last week to block the nominations. So TVA lit up their Baxter-fax-o-turf hotline to "news" papers across the South.

Apparently, Bill Baxter lives in the Bush/GOP world of Clear Skies and Healthy Forests, where up is down, black is white, fear-mongering is security, and misleading propaganda is the gospel truth if you repeat it often enough.

OK, then.

cafkia's picture

Gimme that old time Bubba religion

Preach it Brother Bubba!!  Amen!  

(Ya know, it aint everywhere that the deacons bench is this comfortable.)


It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

ragityman's picture


I've moved away fm K'ville, but i grew up w/Bill, & i like 2 give benefit of the doubt. He always seemed a straight shooter in those days. What ever happened w/JCooper?

RigsbyWerner's picture

In my opinion, struggling for relevance in K-Town, he's a Wamp

backer, on the backside of the Republican party, about to get blasted in the Republican Primary.

People who live and work in Knoxville have really got to quit trying to take credit for the economic development in other parts of the world, particularly Blount County, Loudon County, and all of Chattanooga and focus their attention to creating jobs, opportunity, and economic momentum in Knoxville.

If you're good, do it in Knoxville.

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