No, this is C. John Wilder. But he's certainly determined to give the world something else to remember Texas for. Get to know him.

As CEO of TXU, the largest utility in Texas, he's pushing a plan, fast-tracked by Texas' Governor Perry, to build eleven new coal-burning power plants that will double the CO2 emissions generated by his company. The eleven plants will disgorge 78 million tons per year of additional emissions, in a state that is already the largest source of global warming pollution in the country. The harmful human health impacts add to the folly of this initiative. The plants, which would use outmoded technology, are being rushed forward to evade expected caps on carbon pollution in the U.S.

For the environmental ins and outs of this matter, visit this excellent website specifically devoted to the TXU controversy, from Environmental Defense. There you'll find you need not take just their word … many others, including scientists, public health officials, local mayors, even fellow utility executives have blasted the plan.

Now why is this an Agitator issue? We're a marketing site, after all, not an environmental watchdog.

For us, the situation raises the issue of how citizen advocacy groups challenge and hold accountable individuals like John Wilder who are so egregiously acting against the public interest. Advocacy nonprofits frequently struggle with how to go on the attack, especially if there's a clearly defined individual decision-maker or actor who is pivotal to the outcome. Where are the boundaries between “arguing the merits” and “impugning motives?” Between personal and institutional accountability … or culpability? When is the individual actor “fair game” for withering fire?

As advocates and as cause fundraisers, it's tempting to assault the motives of a guy like Wilder, to demonize him and make ad hominem attacks. But usually a sense of civility and a belief that rational argument can prevail (i.e. we can win “on the facts”) steers us toward a more moderate and impersonal course.

But is that what's “fair” in this instance?

Continue reading “This Is Not Davy Crockett”

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