Sunday, September 7, 2008

Not-So-Green Connections

Intel Corporation is the largest private employer in Oregon, and loves to paint itself as a "green" company and environmentally responsible neighbor. It's true that Intel has been involved in some pretty green projects, and even that the company has done some good work to reduce its own energy consumption and emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. That's why I, for one, was surprised to learn about some of Intel's less-than-green activities that have taken place in Oregon over the last few years.

In February of this year, I was part of a group of college students from across the state who visited Oregon's capitol to lobby for the only global warming legislation up for passage during the 2008 special legislative session: HB 3610 - a bill that, if passed into law, would have enabled the State of Oregon to gather needed information about current sources of greenhouse emissions in our state. The group of us students believed 3610 was an important step toward laying the foundations for the kind of strong action to curb greenhouse emissions that we need to see in 2009. Despite our efforts, however, the bill failed to pass; it was beaten back by lobbyists from several corporate business associations which don't want global warming legislation to get in the way of their profits. And what was one of the largest companies in any of the business associations that opposed 3610? Intel.

An alliance of businesses that Intel is a part of also strongly opposed important global warming bills in the 2007 legislative session. Luckily, the 2007 bills passed anyway - but this group of powerful corporations is sure to fight tooth and nail to block similar laws in 2009.

Intel is not directly responsible for all the actions taken by the business associations it belongs to. However, as Oregon's biggest private employer, Intel's name lends a lot of credibility to any association it belongs to. This means that if Intel is serious about making progress against global warming in this state, it needs to break away from groups like Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities (ICNU) - a strong opponent of making progress on this issue. After ICNU's successful defeat of HB 3610 in February, I and other students were determined to make sure Intel wouldn't be lending its name to such efforts again. So now we are launching a major campaign that will unite college students from different campuses with community groups that are neighbor to Intel's Oregon headquarters, in an effort to make Intel live up to its green image. Join us in uncovering Intel's dirty secrets!


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