A Free-Market Energy Blog

Bill White: “In These Challenging Times, Enron Deserves Our Thanks”

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 12, 2010

“Enron also welcomed the challenge of responsible environmental stewardship, and called on industry to address the issue of global warming even as some companies feared the impact of pollution control on their bottom lines.”

– Bill White, “In These Challenging Times, Enron Deserves Our Thanks,” Houston Chronicle, October 26, 2001.

Former Houston mayor and current gubernatorial candidate Bill White is running away from his far Left energy/environmental past–one that he developed as deputy secretary of the Department of Energy in the Clinton/Gore Administration from 1993 until 1995. And when times were good and Obama cool,  Houston’s mayor flaunted his climate alarmism. But no more…

White now pretends to be a fiscal conservative and no longer supports cap-and-taxtrade. But isn’t this the same fellow that as Houston mayor created new staff positions and supported high-cost energy to promote his Climate Alarmism agenda? White, indeed, championed wildly uneconomic solar projects for Houston and has promoted industrial windpower at every turn. White tells as much in a toned-down interview with Mother Jones.

White proudly fronted the James Hansen event at the Progressive Forum, even introducing the controversial NASA climate scientist who has called for show trials for oil company executives and compared coal trains to Holocaust death trains.

Mayor White also introduced Tim Flannery at the Progressive Forum, another wild-eyed climate alarmist who states: “If humans pursue a business-as-usual course for the first half of this century, I believe the collapse of civilization due to climate change becomes inevitable.”

With such dire prognostications, why not let government grow and the cost of energy and energy appliances rise in the name of ‘stabilizing climate’ and ‘saving mankind’?

This begs the question: What would Governor Bill White do through the back door to promote the Obama/Gore climate agenda? Texans beware!

Rick Perry Has Energy Issues Too

I am no particular fan of Texas Governor Rick Perry and have critically blogged on him at MasterResource. I remember standing just a few feet from him at a fundraiser some years ago where he criticized George W. Bush for losing his way in Washington towards big government–only to then launch into how great Texas was because of its windpower boom.

Dear Governor Perry–it was Enron that got the renewables mandate  in Texas back in 1999 to create the artificial boom. (Enron Wind Corporation was one of seven profit centers that Enron had re climate alarmism.) And Big Texas Wind is now the tiger you are now holding by the tail: the CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zones) transmission line monstrosity that is way over its $5 billion budget.

And Gov. Perry: the Texas Windpower Boom is what the Obama Administration and the American Wind Energy Association want to force on all of America. If you are a fiscal conservative as you say, can you work to remove the renewable energy mandates that cost Texans real money and have environmental negatives?

One other thing: it appears that Gov. Perry has presided over a government R&D program–the Texas Emerging Technologies Fund, that has steered money to some of campaign contributors–some of whom are supposed free-market types. Ouch!!

I have never voted for Governor Perry, although I wish him well and applaud his good moves such as Texas’s pushback against U.S. EPA’s CO2 crusade. (Perry is rethinking his windpower support too, from what I gather.) I have not voted for Bill White either but wish him well–and hope he becomes a fiscal conservative and climate realist in his post-election rethink.

The Real (or At Least Old) Bill White

In keeping with his worldview, Bill White was Enron’s last supporter. He probably wishes he had waited a little longer before throwing kudos to the sinking company.

But he said what he did–and in no small part because of the global warming, cap-and-trade issue that was so near and dear to White, Ken Lay, and, more recently, President Obama and his dream green team.

I reprint Bill White’s Enron op-ed in its entirely since it is very hard to find on the Internet (but can be found in an Enron document).

In These Challenging Times, Enron Deserves Our Thanks

Houston Chronicle, October 28, 2001


Enron and its employees have blessed Houston, and many Houstonians should now take the time to say “thanks” when the company has experienced some highly publicized challenges.

Enron attracted thousands of great people to Houston and changed Houston’s economy forever. The company’s management encouraged their employees to be active citizens, and those folks responded by making a big difference in their community.

Enron’s lead in shaping a nationwide market for electricity gave birth to a multibillion-dollar new industry, with Houston as its hub. Even while it competed hard to win in the marketplace, Enron’s example helped show other natural gas pipeline and trading firms how to move into the even bigger market of electricity.

This explosive growth attracted bright young people — and they in turn helped fuel an explosion in residential growth in Houston’s downtown. This, in turn, helped revitalize downtown’s retail and restaurant scene. Enron’s construction of a large Class A office tower, still going up, is a milestone in Houston’s growth, an official end to more than a decade of large amounts of vacant office space.

Enron’s corporate success reflects the stories of so many of its employees who have lived the American dream. Enron rewarded innovation, while many firms afraid to alter the old formula wondered why their leadership eroded. Year after year, top executives throughout the country voted Enron our nation’s most innovative corporation. Enron recognized, even when financial markets do not, that innovative firms are secure enough to accept occasional failure and the inevitable price of other successes.

And so if Enron experiences problems, it will learn from them, just as strong people do. Let’s not prejudge Enron’s current challenges.

The more than a decade of my life that was dedicated to trying cases against companies who hurt consumers and investors taught me both to insist on the truth but never to jump to premature conclusions based on a headline or a news story.

Throughout its years of success, Enron folks have never forgotten to find so many ways to make the firm’s hometown of Houston a better place to live and work. As Enron enters a new phase of its life, let’s not forget to express thanks and steady support.


  1. Jon Boone  

    The Bill Whites and Rick Perrys of the world, even outside Texas, are too much with us. Nearly a hundred years ago, here’s what H.L. Menchen had to say about them:

    “Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game.”

    “When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.”

    “There is, indeed, no genuine disposition among American public officials, or indeed among public officials anywhere, to reduce public expenses. As I have pointed out in this place a hundred times, they always try to lay on at least $2 every time they “save” $1.”

    “It is not a sign of communal well-being when men turn to their government to execute all their business for them, but rather a sign of decay, as in the United States today. The state, indeed, is but one of the devices that a really healthy community sets up to manage its affairs.”

    “Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.”


  2. margaret trotter  

    Mayor Bill White, I would like to take the time to thank you for sheltering so many people, and we the Hurst and Trotter family, from the storm Katrina.

    Thank you, your family, and the state of Texas for your love shown in times like that. I wrote and produced a song for you and the city of Houston.

    Sincerely Yours
    Margaret Trotter, New Orleans


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