A study published in the prestigious journal American Economic Review estimates that the costs imposed on society by air pollution from coal-fired power plants are greater than the value added to the economy by the industry. The study concluded that coal may be 'underregulated' since the price we pay for coal-fired power doesn't account for its costs.
According to a Nexis search, not a single major newspaper or television network has covered the study. By contrast, an industry-funded report on the cost of EPA regulations of these air pollutants has received considerable media attention.
By contrast, the mainstream media have flocked like vultures to an American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) “study,” reporting it as gospel, even though ACCCE is merely a coal industry front group. That “study” concluded that two Clean Air rules would result in the loss of 1.4 million job-years by 2020 and increase electricity rates by over 23 percent in some areas.
Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after laying off over 1,000 workers, is facing a barrage of attacks by both politicians and the media. The GOP and its right wing media echo chamber in particular have sought to condemn the entire U.S. clean energy sector as a result of an FBIraid of Solyndra's offices.
Things have spun so far out of control inside the Beltway that Rep. David Vitter (R-La.) is disseminating a bill that would, “require an inspector general investigation into any company that receives federal money for renewable energy development and then goes bankrupt.”
But Vitter's so-called Federal Accountability of Renewable Energy (FARE) Act is hardly a fair assessment of accountability across the entire energy subsidies spectrum.
Besides serving as an opportunistic moment to dance on the grave of a solar company, in the wake of Solyndra's economic downfall, we're witnessing a true disdain among Republicans for a clean energy technology that was invented here at home, and possesses the potential to help wean the U.S. from deep reliance on foreign energy. In the currently toxic political environment, the GOP seems more interested in ceding that job-rich opportunity to China.
For people who really want to understand the details of the emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the Christian Science Monitor has an excellent analysis of the tree ring “divergence” phenomenon that gave rise to the now-infamous line: “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trickof adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.