So Much Horse Hockey in Such a Small Paddock

Honestly, I wouldn’t expect our area Chambers of Commerce to do anything but support GlobalFoundries in its bid to operate its own utility, thus sidestepping the Global Warming Solutions Act and other state rules and regulations. The Chambers are on the side of business, after all, and any threat to GF’s presence in Essex Junction is a threat to the region’s economy as a whole — including the Chambers’ constituencies. But this toxic little opinion piece from the Vermont and Lake Champlain Chambers plus the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation is an exercise in desperation and deception.

The thesis, as stated in the headline above, is that GlobalFoundries “will help combat climate change.” Huh. So exempting GF from the GWSA will help us fight climate change? Do tell.

In order to prove this unlikely theory, Cioffi et al. proceed to put their thumbs on the scale at every opportunity, spinning out unlikely scenarios full of conditional clauses while offering no evidence whatsoever that the deal will be a blow against climate change.

Let’s run through the deceptions, shall we?

The first sentence is “GlobalFoundries is a critical partner in meeting our goals to combat climate change.” Butbutbut GF wants out from under the burden of meeting out goals. How does that help?

Cioffi et al. don’t answer the question. Instead, they pivot immediately to praise GF’s semiconductors and their role in our modern technological society. Which is true, but there’s no direct tie to climate change.

The first paragraph closes with a bit of actual truth: GF has been “a critical partner in meeting our goals to combat climate change.” It’s true that GF has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 24% since 2005. The GWSA’s goal for 2025 is a 26% reduction, so GF is almost all the way there. So if they’re so close to success, why would they want to opt out? Because they don’t want to be on the hook for future GWSA targets, which will be tougher to meet.

A few paragraphs down, the bullshit starts to flow. The Gf utility deal would, according to Cioffi et al., “allow GlobalFoundries to procure its own power from the regional energy market including local renewable energy projects.”

Hold it right there. What GF wants to do is buy power at the lowest possible price. What are the odds that the cheapest source will be “local renewable energy projects”? I’d say slim to none. The authors get fully conditional in the next paragraph: “It will purchase its energy from renewable or carbon free suppliers, including renewable energy suppliers here in Vermont if it is competitively priced.”

Emphasis mine, for obvious reasons. GF will buy clean power if and only if it’s cheap. If GF really thought renewable energy would be cheap, it wouldn’t be trying to evade our greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Next, the authors note that 80% of GF’s power consumption is in its manufacturing processes and that the self-utility would give GF “greater flexibility and resources” to wring efficiencies out of factories. I don’t see how that’s true. It kinda-sorta provides more “resources” for GF because it will save money on electricity. But there’s no guarantee that a dime of the increased profits will be spent on reducing GF’s carbon footprint. The self-utility proposal is irrelevant to GF’s search for savings in manufacturing.

Now we come to the penultimate paragraph, which contains the real concerns of our business elite. It’s all about the economic impact of GlobalFoundries. it’s true; the loss of GF would be a big blow to the region’s and the state’s economy. No argument there. But let’s not try to conceal this naked financial reality behind a lot of fluff about fighting climate change.

The essay concludes with this, ahem, ungrammatically meandering sentence.

This support is grounded in the fact that we see GlobalFoundries’ application for what it is, the opportunity to both support a key employer that is critical to Vermont in helping us meet and exceed greenhouse gas emission reductions and because they are a leader and willing to move faster than what has been prescribed at the state level.

We’ll set aside the English 101 and cut to the chase. Gf’s presence brings a lot of benefits, but it has nothing to do with “helping us meet and exceed” our climate targets. GF has been “willing to move faster” so far. But again, if GF will continue to be “willing to move faster,” then why the Hell do they want out from under state regulations including the GWSA? GF ought to be perfectly happy to continue to lead the way. If that’s what it plans to do.

But that’s not the case. GF is pursuing this arrangement in order to save money, pure and simple. If the Chambers want to make that argument, and say that we can’t afford to deny GF and risk losing all those jobs, then fine. But don’t try to gussy it up as a step forward in fighting climate change. It’s not.


1 thought on “So Much Horse Hockey in Such a Small Paddock

  1. Walter Carpenter

    “But don’t try to gussy it up as a step forward in fighting climate change. It’s not.”

    It never is and it is always about money… follow the money…. I hope you call or someone calls this for what it is when it starts appearing in op-eds or letters in papers around the state.


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