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tv   60 Minutes on CNBC  CNBC  May 8, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

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♪ isn't that cool? and that's pretty cool. ♪ [ticking] >> even though there's a total embargo in this country against any trade with iran, iran still gets high tech materials and components for a variety of weapons from right here in the u.s.a. this man set up a trading company in philadelphia. you are charged with trying to buy a centrifuge that could be used to make biological weapons, like anthrax. >> yes. that's what they say. >> do you know how much money you have? >> no. >> i mean, does 17 billion sound about right? he is the richest man in russia who just bought the worst team in the nba. but as you'll see, he's not like any other owner of a big time american sports franchise.
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he's an adrenaline junkie with a few unusual toys. >> see? [gun clicking] >> and he owes some of his fame and fortune to a bevy of party girls. >> frankly speaking, i like women. >> coal has made jim rogers and his company rich, and that's why we were surprised to hear what this power baron has to say about what coal does to the environment. you know, there are a lot of people, many of them in your industry, many people that you probably know, who say that global warming is not a big problem. >> it's my judgment it is a problem. we need to go to work on it now. and it's critical that we start to act in this country. >> but if it's so critical, why is rogers still building new coal-burning power plants? >> welcome to 60 minutes on cnbc. i'm steve kroft. politics and business can be strange bedfellows. in this episode, we have a report on a billionaire walking a fine line between the russian government
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and american professional basketball. and later, a story about a coal executive grappling with a dirty little not-so-secret problem. but first we look at companies who may be illegally doing business with iran. the obama administration has pushed for tough new sanctions against iran because of that country's efforts to produce nuclear weapons. but as lesley stahl reported in 2010, iran is having no problems getting high tech materials and components through under-the-radar middlemen who run small trading companies around the world, some based in cities right here in the united states. >> are you a procurement agent for iran? >> [chortles] no, that's ridiculous. no. >> but of course that's sort of the implication of the case against you. >> i'm nothing to do with iranian government or things like that at all. >> mohammad vaghari, mitch to his friends, an iranian who's lived in the
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united states for 15 years, is facing up to 85 years in prison. he and his lawyers are preparing for his trial on charges that he conspired to send u.s. technology to iran through a trading company he set up in his basement apartment in philadelphia. you are charged with trying to buy a centrifuge that could be used to make biological weapons, like anthrax. >> i don't know about that. i'm not a biological expert to tell, you know-- >> that's in the affidavit and is part of... >> sure. >> the charges against you? >> yes. that's what they say. >> he says his client for the centrifuge was a science lab at a university in dubai. but he says he never bought it. he only asked for its price. >> it was too expensive. you know, we couldn't afford such a thing. >> this is apparently why the fbi came to you, was over the centrifuge. >> mm-hmm. >> the salesperson who you spoke to got suspicious. says he asked you all kinds
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of questions. he asked you for a shipping address that you wouldn't give him. >> i told them, "we are a middleman. i just want to know how much is this." >> but this middleman fit a pattern-- a u.s.-based iranian with a small export company trying to send technology to dubai, which is a popular port for sending goods on to iran. the fbi then learned that vaghari was asked to buy a hydrophone that could be used to listen to submarines and laptops. you did end up sending three items to dubai. how sophisticated were the items? >> very common college lab equipment. >> did they go to iran? >> never, no. >> you're sure of that? >> as far as i know, yes. the stuff was intended for dubai and ended up in dubai and stayed in dubai. that's what i think. >> but in a search of his apartment, the fbi found emails asking him to make inquiries for the pastor
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institute and tarbiat modarres university. both are based in tehran. and according to intelligence out of europe, both are trying to buy lab equipment in the west that could be used to produce biological weapons. vaghari will argue in court that the equipment was for iranian professors who work in dubai. so you think the whole premise of the u.s. case is faulty. >> doesn't make sense. >> david kris is the head of the national security division at the justice department. he says most middlemen aren't in it for politics. >> they're people who i think primarily are motivated by profit. >> profit. they want the money. >> and they're adaptable and intelligent, and we have to adapt to keep pace with them. >> the vaghari case, he seems like such a low level guy. he operated out of his basement. he had no money. why would the iranians go to him? >> the iranians will exploit an opportunity if they see one, whether the guy is,
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you know, sort of some kind of fancy pants international arms dealer with a mink coat and a private jet, or whether he's some guy operating out of a basement somewhere in some kind of classic boiler room style operation. it doesn't really matter to them as long as they get the technology that they are seeking at the other end of it. >> kris leads a multi-agency effort to hunt down the smugglers. a lot of the investigative work is done by i.c.e., u.s. immigration and customs enforcement. clark settles, a special agent with i.c.e., says the wake-up call came in 2005, when u.s. soldiers in iraq stumbled upon an unexploded roadside bomb. and they looked inside, and it was american chip inside the i.e.d.? >> yes, and what i can say is that they're finding that on a regular basis. that there's u.s. components inside of i.e.d.s in iraq and afghanistan. >> the government learned that the u.s. manufacturer had sent the chips to dubai. they were sent on to iran
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and then given to insurgents in iraq. settles also showed me u.s. items smugglers were caught buying for iran that could be used in their nuclear program. ballistic missile parts. tiny radar components. and these sensitive devices crucial to build a nuclear bomb. >> the pressure transducers. >> pressure transducers. >> yes. it's an integral part of enriching uranium. >> iran may have succeeded in obtaining these. look at this photo of president ahmadinejad in iran's nuclear facility in natanz. >> right behind him is an american transducer looking exactly like this thing. >> yes, the iranians were trying to acquire these transducers. >> one reason it's so hard to enforce the sanctions is that many items iran wants are sold for non-military uses, like this little widget-- a triggered spark gap. >> the triggered spark gap can be utilized in a lithotripter,
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which is a machine, a medical device, that can break up kidney stones. and it's also used to detonate a nuclear weapon. >> so this is the typical dual use item. >> a very scary dual use item. >> after you catch someone, have you been able to flip them? >> absolutely. >> and have you been able in this way to sabotage some of the things you send over? in other words, send over faulty stuff that'll break down. >> i can't comment on anything like that. [chuckles] up next, an iranian is arrested after buying sensitive equipment from the u.s. >> you ended up selling one of your devices to iran. >> by accident, certainly. >> did they tell you it was going to iran? >> they said it was going to malaysian telekom. >> when 60 minutes on cnbc continues. [ticking] they have names like idle time books and smash records
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[ticking] >> the justice department has indicted over 100 alleged smugglers working for iran, but many remain out of reach. there are people in iran or in certain non-extradition countries where we may have difficulty getting to them. on the other hand, we've had cases where we have charges against somebody, and years later they travel, and maybe they think we've
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forgotten about them. but we don't forget. >> he's talking about people like majid kakavand, an iranian electrical engineer from tehran. >> i am not criminal. i haven't done anything. i am innocent. >> kakavand was tracked down in 2009 as he landed in paris on vacation. >> i was arrested by the police in the airport. they told me, "okay, there's an arrest warrant against you issued by the united states." >> the french sent him to prison pending his extradition to the u.s., where he faces charges that he tricked several american companies into shipping tens of thousands of electrical components destined for iran, but via malaysia. he and his business partners sent a blizzard of email orders to companies they found on the internet. we found a company that responded in huntsville, alabama. now, we're here because you ended up selling one of your devices to iran.
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>> by accident, certainly. >> lynn leaper is the ceo of az technology, which makes aerospace testing equipment. she sold kakavand this spectroreflectometer, a device with various uses, including, the government says, enhancing the capability of long range missiles. she says kakavand's trading company lied to her in their emails. >> we asked who the end user was, which is one of the questions on-- >> the end user. >> right. >> yeah. oh, did they tell you it was going to iran? >> they said it was going to malaysian telekom. >> did that make any sense? >> yeah, actually it's a reasonable request. >> so she sold it for $95,000, and off it went to kuala lumpur. we know actually from the indictment of mr. kakavand that he had arranged for your product to be flown via iran air. >> [chuckling] >> right into tehran. do you know even know who the actual recipient of it was? >> in the indictments, there were two companies listed.
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one of them is-- does deal with electro-optical equipment. >> and also weapons of mass destruction. >> of course. >> that company is a subsidiary of iran electronics industries, a contractor that makes weapons and communication systems for the iranian military. seems like an open-and-shut case against kakavand, but it isn't. >> nowhere else in the world this is considered as a crime. nowhere else except in the united states. >> diane francois is kakavand's lawyer in paris, where he's fighting his extradition to the u.s. she explains that in europe, there are no sanctions against trading with iran, except when it comes to arms and nuclear sales. >> the united states is somehow asking foreign countries to recognize their embargo, their national defense interest while it is not at all the one of other sovereign countries.
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>> do the europeans, and the french particularly, have no moral issues selling electronics or anything that could conceivably be used in weapons to iran? >> look, that is, first, a political question, and i disagree with the question itself. to the best of my knowledge, trading with iran on many commodities has absolutely nothing to do with the nuclear program of iran. >> you're client wasn't buying dresses. he wasn't buy tables. he was buying electronics. and he was sending them to iran. >> he was buying a lot of electrical components, and this is still not forbidden by any legislation other than your embargo. >> we're talking about tens of thousands of different items here. >> well, i mean, you can buy 50,000 plugs at 50¢ each. it doesn't make you a great criminal. >> she says nothing he bought
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meets the definition of arms that are restricted for sale under french law. but the justice department argues that kakavand was doing business in the u.s., not france, and that he lied to get the goods. >> it seems that i am a victim of the existing policies between iran and the united states and the other countries. >> you have gone after some big fish, but then they get caught in various countries, and those countries let them go, in country after country. hong kong, thailand, poland. >> it's always frustrating if you think you've found a bad guy and you can't lay hands on him. sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. and you just keep going. >> iran has publicly condemned the u.s. and france for kakavand's arrest. if he is extradited, it'll be a landmark victory for enforcing the sanctions abroad. but there are many more smugglers out there. do you have the feeling, as we've heard, that you can shut someone down and five new people take
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their place? >> i have a feeling that there are a lot of different people out there who are trying to do this. but i think we are making a difference, even if we're not stopping every transaction that would otherwise occur. >> one frustrated agent told us, "we're only catching the dumb ones." >> [chuckles] well, the dumber you are, the more likely we are to catch you. but i'd like to think we've caught some smart people too. >> in may 2010, a french appeals court refused to extradite majid kakavand, and the french government sent him back to iran. there were questions about whether his return was part of a deal for the release of a french citizen being held in iran. kakavand meanwhile has complained of his treatment while in french custody, which he claims was intentionally rough at the request of the u.s. [ticking] coming up, we'll meet a man with some very impressive toys. [gun clicks] it's brand new. it's kalashnikov bought for special forces.
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>> that's your boat? >> that's my small yacht. >> where is it now? >> really, i don't know. >> you don't know where it is? >> no. >> when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. [ticking] [ male announcer ] introducing a powerful weapon in your fight against lawn weeds.
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at e-trade, our free online tools and retirement specialists can help you build a personalized plan and execute it with a wide range of low cost investments. get a great plan and low cost investments at e-trade. [ticking] >> a big time sports franchise is the ultimate vanity investment for american millionaires and billionaires. and some owners, like jerry jones of the dallas cowboys and the late george steinbrenner of the new york yankees, have become just as famous as their star players. in 2010, that exclusive club opened up to a man who counts his billions in rubles. his name is mikhail prokhorov,
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and we sat down with the russian oligarch just as he was buying the worst team in professional basketball, the new jersey nets. >> for me, life, and business in particular, is a big game. [thumping drum beat] >> if you could afford to do anything, would you do this? and hire a production company to put it to music? how about this? maybe not. but mikhail prokhorov is always looking for a challenge. you like danger? >> i like to control risk. >> control risk? >> yeah. >> by now, you have probably guessed that russia's wealthiest citizen and largest individual taxpayer is an adrenaline junkie. he is also one of the country's most avid sportsmen, a former owner of a moscow basketball that won the european championship. you will also notice that he is quite tall, 6'8" to be exact, as he trains here with his personal kickboxing partner, who is also the coach
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of the russian national team. > i am addicted to sport. without sport, i feel bad. in this case, it's some kind of a drug. >> how much time do you spend working out every day? >> two hours. whatever happen, two hours, i have my workout. >> reduces stress? >> i like to be in stress. >> you like it? >> it's my competitive advantage. >> for someone who loves sports, stress, and challenges, there's probably no better buy than the new jersey nets. for a few hundred million dollars, prokhorov recently bought 80% of the worst team in the national basketball association. 20 years ago, a russian would have never been allowed to buy an american sports franchise, but nba commissioner david stern says it's just one more sign that the world is changing. >> america is really the only place where the question gets asked, "what about those foreigners?" this is a global sport. our games our televised
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in 215 countries and 43 languages. so it was really a natural import of globalization. >> it also has something to do with the recession. a number of nba teams are struggling financially, and prokhorov has the one thing the league and the nets need most right now-- very deep pockets-- which come from a far-flung financial empire. he flew us to siberia to check out russia's richest gold mining company. he owns almost half of it, plus a big chunk of the world's biggest aluminum producer. [woman speaking in russian] there is a media empire, plus two banks, an insurance company, and lots of real estate, including this house, which has a built-in swimming pool and of course a fitness center. that's your boat? >> it's my small yacht. >> he showed us a model of his 200-foot yacht. the real one, he says, makes him seasick. where is it now? >> really, i don't know. >> you don't know where it is? >> no.
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[gun clicking] >> and we spotted some of his other toys. >> it's brand new. it's kalashnikov bought for special forces. >> it never hurts to have friends in the special forces, and right now prokhorov has friends everywhere. the night we were invited for dinner, the guest list included a former russian governor and one of the country's biggest movie stars at a table laden with regional delicacies flown in for the occasion and endless bottles of chateau lafite rothschild '95. after business and sports, prokhorov says food is his favorite passion, followed by human interaction and beautiful women. and on that last front, he has managed to remain unencumbered. >> frankly speaking, i like women. in my heart, i am still teenager. and i am very open, and i don't want to hurry this. >> you say you're a big risk taker in business and in sports, but not with women, right? >> i am not to blame. i think women, they are making the same mistake with me all the time.
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the way to the man's heart is through his stomach. >> he says he hasn't found a woman who can cook well enough to marry, but he seems to be looking for her in all the wrong places. [thumping techno music] when prokhorov took us to moscow's exclusive soho club, there were 20 beautiful women waiting in his private section to entertain him and his friends, and none of them looked like they wanted to spend their lives over a hot stove. as we said earlier, this penchant for pulchritude has gotten him into trouble before and help him make a fortune. but before we get to that, it helps to know about his money and how he made it. people say you are the richest man in russia. >> maybe. who knows? >> do you know how much money you have? >> no. >> i mean, does 17 billion sound about right? >> i'm lucky i have enough money to be really independent. but it doesn't drive me just to count money, thinking about money.
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it's only a side effect of what i'm doing in business. [ticking] >> prokhorov has a run-in with the french police. they thought that you were bringing prostitutes into the country. >> i think, yes, because it was absolutely a police misunderstanding. > you said the french elite is envious because they're lagging behind in fashion, in life, and in sex drive. >> zat's true. [laughs] >> when 60 minutes on cnbc continues. [ticking] 3q it's very important to understand
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how math and science kind of makes the world work. in high school, i had a physics teacher by the name of mr. davies. he made physics more than theoretical, he made it real for me. we built a guitar, we did things with electronics and mother boards. that's where the interest in engineering came from. so now, as an engineer, i have a career that speaks to that passion. thank you, mr. davies.
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>> like most russian billionaires, mikhail prokhorov's fortune was molded from the ashes of the former soviet union with a little bit of luck and the help of a powerful political connection. he was raised among the soviet elite and studied at the prestigious moscow financial institute, where he majored in international finance. so when communism and the soviet union finally collapsed, he was one of the few people who knew anything about world markets and free enterprise. >> we made a crazy transformation, just crazy transformation. can you imagine 20 years ago we know nothing about capitalism, nothing. >> his expertise drew the attention of vladimir potanin, a future deputy prime minister of russia with close ties to the kremlin, who had just been given the right to open two private banks. he asked prokhorov to run them as his partner. the downside was, the job might get him killed. during the 1990s, hundreds of russian businessmen were gunned down by contract
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killers hired to resolve disputes or by gangsters trying to muscle in on someone else's turf. >> it was a wild west. it was a territory with no sherriff. >> with no sherriff? >> no rules. you need to survive. >> and he did survive, and with no blood on his hands. by the time he reached 30, he was already a multimillionaire. but a much bigger pay day was just around the corner. in 1995, prokhorov and potanin's bank won the equivalent of the russian lottery. kremlin leaders gave them what amounted to an insider's opportunity to buy one of the state's most valuable assets: a huge mining and metals operation called norilsk nickel, which is among the world's largest producers of nickel, copper, and platinum. they acquired it from the kremlin in a so-called auction for the measly sum of a few hundred million dollars in a process that even prokhorov's business partner admitted wasn't perfect and probably not even legal under western standards.
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but it was legal in russia. [woman speaking in russian] yulia latynina, one of russia's top business journalists, says it was sort of like a slam dunk. no one was shocked or surprised. >> everybody would have-- would have been surprised if they didn't win the-- if they didn't win it. [chuckles] >> so it was rigged. >> yes, it was rigged. but it cannot be explained in normal economic terms to an outsider, especially an american. >> this is just the way these things worked. >> you had robber barons. we had oligarchs. >> prokhorov transformed the decrepit mining company into one of the most productive operations in the world, taking it public before world prices for metals and other raw materials began to skyrocket, along with the price of his stock. and he sold at the perfect time, but not necessarily because he wanted to. now we get to the party girls. in january 2007, prokhorov flew a planeload of friends to the french ski resort of courchevel, and brought along eight russian models to help entertain them-- not an unusual custom
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in the upper echelons of the russian business world, but apparently unknown to french constables, who took prokhorov into custody on suspicion of promoting prostitution. they thought that you were bringing prostitutes into the country. >> i think, yes, because it was absolutely a police misunderstanding. >> and how long were you there? >> three days. >> three days. you couldn't leave? >> it sounds strange, but it was really fun for me. it's a good experience. i like even such challenges. >> it created a minor international incident, with french president nicolas sarkozy giving prokhorov a shout-out as a man who obviously wants to please his friends. did you think that was funny? >> good joke. [chuckles] >> and prokhorov responded in kind. you said, "the french elite is envious because they're lagging behind in fashion, in life, and in sex drive." >> zat's true. [laughs]
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>> the russian government was not too happy about this, right? about the publicity. >> it's natural. >> french police never pressed charges, and according to prokhorov, later apologized. but russian cartoonists had a field day. a fruit juice company lampooned him in a commercial. >> ♪ puttin' on the ritz >> and his well-connected business partner, vladimir potanin, suggested it would be a good time for prokhorov to sell his share of their joint ventures, which he did for $10 billion, just two months before the international financial crisis devastated the russian stock market. with prokhorov sitting on a mountain of cash, he became the richest man in the country. and it might not have happened without those party girls. >> it's a part of any business to be lucky. >> and you sold at just the right time. >> miracle happens. >> it's safe to say that there aren't any nba owners with stories like that one. and prokhorov's life in the opaque world of russian business presented a unique challenge for the national
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basketball association, which is charged with investigating the personal and business background prospective nba owners. but commissioner david stern says prokhorov passed all the tests. you think he's a man of character? >> i think he's as man who has passed a very tight security check, and nobody has come up with any reason why he shouldn't be an nba owner. >> commissioner stern believes prokhorov to be a shrewd businessman, although we found him to be a bit unorthodox. where's your computer? >> i don't use a computer. >> you have something against computers? >> we have too much information, and it's really impossible to filter it. >> he believes his biggest strengths are organization and leading people. any abilities you wish you had that you don't have? >> sometimes maybe to be less tall. >> to be less tall? [chuckles] well, you're about to enter a world of very tall people with the nba. you're gonna actually be pretty
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short. >> [chuckles] compared with the players, yes, but compared with the common people, i am tall enough. trust me. >> prokhorov has been brushing up on his english and his jump shot. if everything goes according to plan, in 2012, he will move the nets to a brand new arena in brooklyn, home to the largest russian american community in the united states. who knows? he may even find that perfect woman he's been looking for. >> i am really excited to take the worst team of the league and to turn it to be the best. >> you think you can do that? >> i am confident. do you remember in the frank sinatra song new york, new york, "if i can make it there, i can make it anywhere." >> [chuckles] after buying the nets in 2010, mikhail prokhorov lost no time in putting his stamp on the team, with playful jabs
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at the neighboring new york knicks and bold advances to some of the highest profile players in the league. he also brought along some russian sponsors for his team's new brooklyn arena. prokhorov announced he was selling his shares in the gold mine and investing in a new hybrid car called "yo!" [ticking] up next, a coal executive admits his power plants are hazards. >> how much coal does this plant burn in an given day? >> every day this plant burns roughly 19,000 tons of coal. that's two trainloads, and each train has about 100 cars. >> controlling carbon emissions in the near future is inevitable in your view. this is gonna happen. >> it's inevitable, in my judgment. >> you're one of the biggest polluters in the world when it comes to carbon emissions. >> we're one of the largest emitters, and it tells you how daunting the challenge is that we have in front of us. >> when 60 minutes on cnbc continues. [ticking]
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>> the future of our climate might be summed up in one question: what do we do about coal? coal generates nearly half the electricity in the united states and the world, but it is also the dirtiest fuel of all when it comes to carbon dioxide, or co2, the leading greenhouse gas. the obama administration
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has declared that co2 is a threat to human health, and it plans to impose limits. but making coal safe will come at an astronomical cost. one of the most influential people in this debate is jim rogers. coal has made rogers and his company rich, but as he told scott pelley in 2009, he also knows what coal does to the environment. [helicopter blades whirring] >> jim rogers wanted us to see america's enormous dependency on coal, so he flew us out to one of his 20 coal-burning power plants. >> i remember the first time i took a helicopter to look down at a power plant like this, i was 41 years old, and i said, "oh, my goodness, i'm responsible for that?" >> rogers is the ceo of duke energy, the nation's third largest electric utility. his smoke stacks pump out 100 million tons of carbon dioxide every year,
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which makes what comes out of rogers' mouth so surprising. controlling carbon emissions in the near future is inevitable in your view. this is gonna happen. >> it's inevitable, in my judgment. >> you're one of the biggest polluters in the world when it comes to carbon emissions. >> we're one of the largest emitters, and it tells you how daunting the challenge is that we have in front of us. >> you know, there are a lot of people, many of them in your industry, many people that you probably know, who say that global warming is not a big problem. >> it's my judgment it is a problem. we need to go to work on it now. and it's critical that we start to act in this country. >> like a reformed tobacco executive, rogers says we can't survive the emissions his industry creates. he showed us what he means at a north carolina power station that can light up 1 1/2 million homes. how much coal does this plant burn in a given day? >> every day this plant burns roughly 19,000 tons of coal. that's two trainloads, and each train has about 100 cars.
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>> this is what that looks like. see the train in the foreground and the train in the background? it's the same train, a mile long. the fact is, america runs on coal, and here's one of the reasons why-- the powder river basin that stretches across wyoming and montana may be the largest coal reserve on earth. we've got 200 years worth of reserves cheap and right under our feet. no wonder coal generates half of our electricity. but here's the brutal part: coal is twice as dirty as natural gas and puts more carbon dioxide in the air than all of our cars and trucks. in short, we're caught between a rock and a hot place. you know, i noticed all of this coming out of the stacks. what is that? >> that's good news. when you see a plume coming out of a stack of a power plant, that's vapor, and it basically says that this is--- the emissions have been cleaned.
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>> the power industry spent billions in the 1990s cleaning up much of the sulfur and nitrogen oxides that cause acid rain. but those pollutants are mere drops in a stream of carbon dioxide. rogers says getting rid of the carbon will require a new federal law to limit emissions and a new technology to clean up coal. at the same time, he says duke will transition to more wind, solar, r power. >> our goal line is substantially to reduce our carbon footprint, to de-carbonize our business, by 2050. >> four decades? that's a long time. >> well, it took 100 years to get to where we are, and we can't do this overnight. >> 2050 is too late. we will have guaranteed disasters for our children, grandchildren, and the unborn. >> jim hanson is nasa's top climate scientist. he's credited with some of the earliest and most accurate projections
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on climate change. he thinks that rogers' plan leaves the earth in the oven decades too long. >> we are going to have to phase out emissions from coal within the next 20 years if we hope to prevent climate disasters. >> are you saying that we can't build any new coal-fired power plants in this country? >> absolutely, not only in this country, but in the world. this is not yet understood, that we are going to have to have a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants within the next few years and phase out the existing ones over the next 20 years or so if we hope to preserve a climate like the one that has existed the last several thousand years. >> you know, jim rogers will hasten to tell you he does share your sense of urgency. >> well, his plan doesn't match that. >> in fact, right now rogers is building two new coal plants. you're talking a great game,
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but you're building coal-fired power plants. >> i am... following through on what is job one for me-- making sure my customers have affordable, reliable, clean electricity. >> and if we abandon coal at this point? >> we can't abandon coal. we have to find a way to keep it and use it in the future, and that means the ability to clean it up. [ticking] >> cleaning up coal would be expensive. >> so we're talking about hundreds of billions to trillion dollars or so, and every power plant needs to capture its greenhouse gases. >> wait, did i just hear you say a trillion dollars? >> a trillion dollars. >> with a "t?" >> with a "t." >> coming up on 60 minutes on cnbc. [ticking] my name is robin.
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[ticking] >> the plan to clean up carbon emissions involves something that the coal and power industries promote as clean coal technology. in fact, they say we can't live without it. >> we have to continue to advance new clean coal technologies. if we don't, we may have to say good-bye to the american way of life we all know and love. >> it is a seductive idea. cleaning up the carbon would solve everything. and during the presidential campaign, both candidates endorsed clean coal. >> this is america. we figured out how to put a man on the moon in ten years. you can't tell me we can't figure out how to burn coal that we mine right here in the united states of america and make it work. >> well, they did find a way
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to make it work. the problem is, clean coal makes putting a man on the moon look easy. the technology is called carbon capture and sequestration. we found the only place you can see it in america-- the basin electric power cooperative in north dakota. basin captures half of its co2, but they didn't build this because of climate change. >> this is the carbon dioxide going into the ground. >> long before anyone heard of global warming, basin was conceived in the carter administration to prove that america could use its own fuel, coal, and turn it into natural gas. they had to take the carbon out because it was an impurity. before you started pumping it into the ground and into the pipeline, where did it come out? >> that stack right up there. >> carbon capture takes the carbon dioxide, turns it into a liquid, and pumps it underground. virtually everyone agrees-- industry, environmentalists, and politicians-- that this is the only way we know to make coal safe
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for the planet. but consider: taxpayers built this for $1 1/2 billion in the 1980s. that would be four billion today. dan kammen says carbon capture would be an enormous national engineering project. he's a berkeley physicist and top expert on energy. can enough carbon capture and sequestration facilities like this be built in time to prevent climate change from coal? >> i don't think anyone knows the answer to that precisely. we know we have to try, and we know that these facilities do work. whether we can build enough of them to preserve the coal industry as it is today i think is a question. >> how many coal-fired power plants are there in the united states? >> we have hundreds of coal-fired power plants. >> and each one of those would need one of these carbon capture sequestration plants. >> that's right. that's right. >> what are we talking about here in terms of infrastructure? >> so we're talking about hundreds of billions to trillion dollars or so.
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and every power plant needs to capture its greenhouse gases. >> wait, did i just hear you say a trillion dollars? >> a trillion dollars. >> with a "t?" >> with a "t." >> joe romm thinks a trillion might be optimistic romm ran alternative fuel projects in the clinton administration. he says the amount of co2 we're talking about is mind-boggling. >> if the world did this at scale, it would be the equivalent amount of co2 going into the ground as oil now comes out of the ground. so you have to recreate the entire oil delivery infrastructure of the planet, which was built up over a century, just to deal with this co2. >> is it practical? >> that we don't know yet. no one has ever taken large volumes of co2 and stuck it in these deep underground aquifers and then measured and verified that it stays there permanently. i mean, after all, if it doesn't stay there permanently, if it leaks out slowly, it's not saving the climate. remember, we spent 30 years
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just trying to get one repository for nuclear waste, yucca mountain, and we haven't succeeded. now we're gonna need dozens and dozens of repositories for co2. >> it is not impossible. what we need in this country is what i would call a marshall plan. we rebuilt the economies of japan and germany after world war ii. we need to rebuild our economy and transition it to a low-carbon economy. we can do that, but it's gonna take trillions of dollars to do it. >> trouble is, there is a marshall plan today. [bell ringing] and it's rebuilding wall street. add to that congress' projection of record federal deficits of $1 trillion. and it turns out not even the industry that warns of the end of our way of life is paying for it. how much as duke energy invested in carbon sequestration technology so far? >> we have not invested any dollars in the technology,
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per say. we have spent a lot of time and money reviewing and analyzing the various technologies. >> but come on. you admit to being the third largest carbon producer in the united states. you tell me that carbon sequestration is the future because we can't afford to live without coal. but then you tell me you haven't invested any money in carbon sequestration. >> while we haven't spent the money on sequestration technology, we've spent the time and energy, and that we're gonna co-invest with the government when this technology evolves. >> if capturing carbon in the u.s. is decades away, consider that china and india now put more carbon in the air than we do, and the chinese are opening coal-fired plants at a rate of one a week. none captures its carbon. now rogers has broken ground on his two new coal-fired plants despite warnings from
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top scientists like nasa's jim hansen. so when jim hansen says that to save the planet, we should stop building coal-fired power plants today, you say what? >> i say, "mr. hansen, can't get done, won't get done. we've got to keep our economy going. we've got to make the transition. and i'm gonna do everything i can with the greatest sense of urgency to make the transition. but to do what you ask me to do now is just not doable." >> in his 2011 state of the union address, president obama called for 80% of the energy used in this country to come from clean technology, including clean coal, within 25 years. meanwhile, jim rogers announced plans to merge his duke energy with progress energy, forming the nation's largest power company. that's this edition of 60 minutes on cnbc.

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