Thursday, April 23, 2009

PSEG offers enviros a paid forum...they accept

PSEG, New Jersey's largest utility, has been buying op-ed space in the state's largest newspaper to burnish its brand and build public support for a number of its projects, including the 500-kv Susquehanna-Roseland electric transmission line.

That controversial venture, proposed to be built along a 46-mile corridor between the Delaware Water Gap in Warren County and the town of Roseland in Essex County, has drawn heavy fire from a number of local and state-wide environmental groups, including the Sierra Club.

The enviros have had to resort to media events, letters to the editor and email to advance their arguments against the project. PSEG has enjoyed the purchasing-power advantage of promoting the power line's virtues in its op-ed "Advertorials" in the (Newark) Star-Ledger.

[The Ledger, for you out-of-state folks, is read throughout most of New Jersey and by virtually everyone in the state's political establishment. Think of it as Trenton's Washington Post]

The latest and most interesting skirmish between the two sides occurred last week when PSEG filed to block the enviros (including the Sierra Club) from gaining standing as intervenors at the state Board of Public Utilities which can approve or veto the power line's construction. See: PSE&G files to block enviros opposing power line

That was a traditional, hard-ball Jersey move, the legal fist inside the velvet glove that PSEG prefers to show in public.

But, Quel suprise! Today we open the Star-Ledger only to find an advertorial by the Sierra Club's Jeff Tittel, paid for by PSEG!

This was PSEG's explanation for the olive-branch offering:

Beginning today, PSEG will occasionally offer our regular Thursday oped space to environmental groups. This piece, by Jeff Tittel, president of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, appears in honor of Earth Day.

How disorienting. No, not PSEG's offer. That's smart PR. We're talking about the Sierra Club's acceptance of the same.

What's up Jeff? Isn't big business the root of all evil? Aren't utilities polluters? Isn't PSEG attempting to import nasty coal-generated power into New Jersey via their new power line? Won't it ravage the countryside, despoil wetlands, and launch a new wave of sprawl?

Isn't it your job to oppose everything they do?

Then, why, pray tell, would you allow them to pay for your lunch at the state's highest-price media restaurant?

[What's your opinion on all this? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. If you don't see one, click on the tiny "comments" link.]

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