Monday, June 22, 2009

Meanwhile, Staffers Furiously Learn How To Convert Files To PDF

Last week, three noted clean energy roadblocks used the bully pulpit of their Congressional offices to tout a map demonstrating the clear damage that the American Clean Energy and Security Act would cause to the country's economy in a state by state breakdown. Reps. Frank Lucas (OK), Sam Graves (MO), and Doc Hastings (WA), who respectively tout appalling LCV lifetime scores of 3%, 4% and 2%, promoted the map as validation of their grave concerns with the economic viability of saving our planet from the catastrophic effects of global warming.

It would have probably behooved them, then, to change the format of the file of the map that they provided after to something less telling when it came to authorship (via NRDC Switchboard):
The blood-red colors showing the "carnage" the bill would supposedly cause really jump off the page, but as usual the coal industry is playing fast and loose here.

For example, one cannot tell the maker of the map just by looking at it. You have to probe a little deeper, as Grist did, to find out more where this map came from.

Click on the "Custom" tab of the "Properties" box on the file and you'll find Arch Coal's fingerprints in the form of an Arch Coal legislative staffer's name and email address together with the subject "Map Regarding Pending Climate Bill." (Amusingly, if you look under the "General" tab its evident that Arch cannibalized a map from an old Peabody investor presentation. Arch, you couldn't afford your own map?)

The Hill later reported the National Mining Association, of which both above coal companies are members, took credit for the map.

Grist's Kate Sheppard followed this story and uncovered this great piece from the original NMA document:
More interesting, however, may be the fine print at the bottom of the National Mining Association’s version of the PowerPoint document, which includes an extra page of data. At the bottom of that page is a note that says the document does not accurately reflect the Waxman-Markey legislation as it currently stands. The footnote:

These rough calculations DO NOT represent a precise indicator of the actual allocation of allowances to electricity distribution companies under sections 782 and 783 of the ACES legislation (5-29-2009 version). First, power can and does move across state lines, so the share electricity-related of carbon dioxide emissions associated with power generation within a state may differ from the share of carbon dioxide emissions associated with power sales within that state—it is the latter that is used in the ACES formula as we understand it, but the former that is calculated here. Second, the distribution under ACES is done on a utility-by-utility basis rather than a state-by-state basis, and there can be significant differences across utilities within a given state. Third, these calculations are made based on data for 2006 through 2008 (2008 data is unpublished preliminary data), while the ACES legislation allows the affected electricity sellers the option of choosing a different period within a specified range of dates. Finally, the calculations do not cover many of the detailed legislative provisions dealing with allocation.
You can read a full breakdown of the industry's fuzzy logic, including a comparison to accurate numbers in terms of economic impact, at NRDC Switchboard. Spoiler alert: the dirty fuel industry association grossly exaggerated the costs to the typical American.