Thursday, June 25, 2009

CORE Another Acronym for ExxonMobil

Without a doubt, the most repeated concern the opposition has raised to a comprehensive clean energy bill has been highly exaggerated claims of the bill's impact on consumer electricity prices.

In a letter sent to House offices today, Congress of Racial Equality's (CORE) Chairman Roy Innis describes the American Clean Energy and Security Act in unflattering if flowery terms:
Immoral assault on poor Americans because it is designed to purposely raise the cost of energy in order to force the working poor to reduce their standard of living.
Innis goes on to invoke a greatest hits of hot-button phrases, including "morally repugnant," "elitist," and "anti-consumer" as he claims it will be America's poorest who will bear the cost of the legislation.

Harsh? Yes. True? Absolutely not.

Perhaps Innis should have looked at the most recent Congressional Budget Office analysis of the legislation released last Friday. According to the CBO report, the nation's poorest will actually have LOWER electric bills as a result of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. They found that those that earn in the twentieth percentile and below income bracket, or a fifth of Americans, would pay $40.00 LESS for electricity after the bill. What's more, this estimate doesn't even take into account the economic benefits of efficiency improvements or from reducing greenhouse gases and slowing that little thing known as climate change.

If reducing electric bills by $40.00 is "immoral," "morally repugnant" and “anti-consumer” to Innis, one has to wonder whether this grouchy Chairman ever gets invited to parties?

Oh yeah, and did we mention CORE received $275,000 from ExxonMobil from 2003-2006? Surprise surprise.

In his defense, Innis did get one thing right in his letter, as he wrote, the bill "will have huge impacts - both direct and indirect - on the struggling families we represent." Those huge impacts presumably include the lower electric bills, cleaner economy, and millions of green jobs the American Clean Energy and Security Act will help create.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Case You Forgot, Big Oil Continues To Be Big

While the efforts of everyday Americans and a broad coalition of businesses, labor, veterans and non-profit public interest groups work to pass a comprehensive energy and climate change bill have brought us to the precipice of the first ever House floor vote on a joint carbon cap and renewable electricity standard, it would be somewhat understandable to think that the biggest impediment to climate change legislation, namely Big Oil, have sat this fight out.

In fact, it turns out they are spending more on lobbying than ever before, to the tune of $44.5 million in the first quarter of 2009 alone, before negotiations on the American Clean Energy and Security Act even ramped up. Unsurprisingly, ExxonMobil was the largest spender, accounting for $9.3M of the industry's total.

ExxonMobil, of course, continues to be the largest cog in the campaign to deny global warming, be it through funding authors of sham studies, setting up disgraced politician-led front groups masquerading as clean but opposing a carbon cap, and flat out refusing to acknowledge the existence of global warming, which CEO Rex Tillerson did just last month.

And, lest we not forgot, they also have been longtime donors to the notorious Heartland Institute, the "leaders" in disputing climate change, although their tenuous "movement" seems to be waning in the face of the previously mentioned good work of those committed to serving the public interest.

The takeaway? We're better positioned than we ever have been before, but the opposition is clearly demonstrating that the fight will be more dogged than ever before. We'll keep posting the ludicrous facts and moments that this fight generates and we'll keep fighting. If you like what we're doing, consider donating to our cause by clicking on the DONATE button on the right.

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.