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Pete Altman’s Blog

Taking Aim at Polluters, their Allies, and their Lies

Pete Altman

Posted June 17, 2014 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, Solving Global Warming

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Today, NRDC is unveiling a new ad to strike back at a disinformation campaign waged by Big Polluters intent on subverting the country’s first-ever carbon pollution standards in order to protect their profits.

The ad will run beginning today on national cable television outlets, major weekend shows, morning news shows and on channels and programs such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and Comedy Central for the next two weeks.

My colleagues have previously pointed out the falsehoods in a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and radio ads by the National Mining Association (NMA) both of which make outrageous and unjustifiable claims about electric bill increases connected to setting carbon limits on power plants.

Why run an ad? Because polluters and their allies get away far too often with half-truths and outright lies, and we’re going to call them out on it every time. The truth is we need to cut the carbon pollution spewing out of power plants to protect our health and future generations. We can do this, and save people money on their electric bills even as we invest in energy efficiency that creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

It isn’t just NRDC that says the Chamber and NMA ads are bunk. The Washington Post Fact Checker found plenty of problems in the US Chamber study, including its basic assumptions which “led to other false notes … even by the Chamber’s admission, these numbers do not apply at all to the EPA rule as written… the Chamber’s assumptions were shaky.” The Post’s Fact Checker thought so little of the Chamber’s work that it gave Four Pinocchios – the most Pinocchios a lie can earn – to members of Congress citing it.

Note, that hasn't stopped the US Chamber's Karen Harbert from continuing to peddle the claims from this debunked study, more than a week after the Post Pinocchioed it. 

The Fact Checker was busy, as it also checked on the NMA’s radio ads as well. It considered them “bogus” and “hyped,” noting that “This is a case study of how a trade group takes a snippet of congressional testimony and twists it out of proportion for political purposes.”

But something else bugs us too. Some of the same groups that rely on the argument that limiting carbon pollution will raise our electric bills are actively working to block the solutions we can use that will keep our electric bills low. The Koch brothers’-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been behind direct attacks on efficiency programs in the heartland and backing efforts to prevent states from using energy efficiency as a tool to clean up power plant pollution, even though it is the cheapest, fastest way to clean up the air and reduce carbon pollution. 

Sound too crazy to be true? Here are some examples:

  • ALEC members in several states sponsored bills to hamstring states from using energy efficiency to meet carbon reduction goals. As my colleague Aliya Haq explained, "These self-defeating bills would take away a Governor’s flexibility in meeting the EPA standard, forcing the state into more expensive and difficult compliance pathways than necessary."
  • Kentucky Bill Would Take Efficiency Off the Table. According to a March editorial in Kentucky’s Lexington Herald-Leader, legislators pushed a bill that “serves just one global interest, the coal industry” because it would “tie the Beshear administration's hands, rendering it unable to negotiate with the EPA to protect Kentucky from steep increases in electricity costs” The bill would prevent use of “…the Beshear administration's ideas for how Kentucky can reduce its greenhouse gas output through efficiency and other means.” March 12, 2014.
  • Americans for Prosperity, Backed by Billionaires Charles and David Koch, Backs Proposal Freezing Efficiency Standards. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Americans for Prosperity and a board member with the American Legislative Exchange Council are pushing for a freeze in Ohio’s energy efficiency standards.   May 20, 2014.
  • Ohio renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates under attack from First Energy. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “FirstEnergy has been circulating a form letter to commercial and industrial customers urging them to lobby lawmakers to amend the efficiency rules. "Tell our elected leaders in Columbus to protect businesses and homeowners from the rising costs of Ohio's energy efficiency mandates," the letter reads in part.” March 28, 2014.
  • Indiana's manufacturing and utility interests backed bill to end the state’s efficiency program. According to Indiana’s Daily Reporter, “Lawmakers approved a bill in March that will halt the state's fledging Energizing Indiana program on Dec. 31, ending its energy-saving efforts such as low-income home weatherizations”, explaining that “Indiana's manufacturing and utility interests argued the program, financed through a fee on monthly electricity bills, had proven too costly and industrial users saw few benefits.” June 03, 2014.

NRDC recently released an analysis showing that if EPA sets strong final carbon pollution limits on existing power plants they could save Americans $37 billion on their electric bills and create a net 274,000 jobs. These jobs, growing mostly through investments in energy efficiency and renewables, would put to work electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers and heavy equipment operators, among others.  

Want more details on the ad? Click here for the press release. 

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Comments

Dave AthertonJun 21 2014 04:59 PM

It was wonderful to see this ad during the Daily Show. However, when I showed a recording of it to somebody, their mind "tuned out" because it appeared to be another boring political ad. Please produce an ad that gets people's attention.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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