Republicans Cribbing from Big Coal?

It’s a small world after all. Turns out that a PowerPoint being trotted out by House Republicans to undermine the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill was apparently created by none other than dirty fuel giant Peabody Energy.

Grist broke this hilarious story by burrowing into the PowerPoint file properties, revealing the “author” was Peabody CEO Greg Boyce and their communications services manager Chris Taylor was listed as the file “manager.”


As if Republican clean energy opponents needed another hit to their already battered credibility, it seems the fossil fuel industry is now even writing their talking points for them.

The PowerPoint and related teleconference event was apparently intended to“highlight how the Democrats’ National Energy Tax will make it more expensive for rural Americans to fertilize the crops, put fuel in the tractor and food on the table.”

Such scare tactics are now in high rotation on the Hill as the battle heats up for the energy  future of America. Separate bills in the House and Senate are being assailed by vested interests in the powerful carbon lobby, as evidenced by this latest incredible fiasco.

Fossil fuel-friendly members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have so-far blocked a meaningful renewable energy standard, instead insisting on massive increases in offshore drilling and loan guarantees for a gas pipeline in Alaska.

“This bill’s renewable standard is so pitiful that it wouldn’t require any new renewable energy development beyond business as usual,” warned Marchant Wentworth, a clean-energy advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In fact, the draft Senate bill is now so bad it could actually be worse than no law at all.

According to Wentworth, “if any states adopted the loopholes and exemptions in this bill, it could reduce the amount of renewable energy development we expect under existing state policies”

The political fear mongering focuses on the fiction that a low carbon future will be bad for consumers and the economy. In fact, exactly the opposite is true.

A recent study by the Consumer Federation of America – hardly a strong advocate of higher prices - found that a national renewable energy standard (RES) of 25% would save U.S. consumers $200 billion a year in differed energy costs by 2030.

Another report concluded such a clean energy requirement, which has proved an enormous boon to the California economy, would add 850,000 jobs in fifteen years to the beleaguered US manufacturing sector.

Another investigation showed the renewable sector in the last decade grew 250% faster than the rest of the economy - even before the massive investment of public dollars towards clean energy.

“Study after study tells us that a robust renewable electricity standard requiring utilities to get a quarter of their electricity from sources like the wind and sun would create jobs and save ratepayers money,” said Wentworth.

Instead the whopper being circulated on Capitol Hill - apparently cribbed from Big Coal - is that strong requirements for renewable energy would be bad for business. Of course that depends on whose business you are talking about…

Peabody is the largest private sector coal company in the world with reserves in 2006 of 10.2 billion tons of unextracted coal. It is little wonder why they might oppose shifting to a clean energy future. 

While this fight is far from over, the Senate bill has already been watered down to an RES of only 15% by 2021. Some lawmakers are vowing to do even more damage as the bill moves out of Committee.

Makes you wonder who they are really working for…


sure the corporate guys are watching their back pockets - but it doesn’t automatically follow that their points are wrong. Maybe this tax will hurt the rural folks.

But the back pocket thing is the real story. Study after study may suggest green energy is an econmomic winner, but big coal companies aren’t jumping on board and yet they would love to switch horses and be the good guys for a change by phasing out coal and phasing in green energy.

The minute it starts to make econmomic sense, they’ll be all over it - which is why I think the studies are flawed. The big energy corps think so. I think so too.

but it will be hard for alternative energy to make “economic sense” to you as long as the cost of dumping CO2 into the atmosphere remains “free” to those doing the dumping, and someone other than coal producers and their power generator customers have to pay for the consequences of freely dumping that CO2 into the atmosphere.

Agreed, its free to pollute the commons. Garbage, acid rain, carbon etc cost nothing to creaters and end users typically. Though we end up having to pay for the cleanup of these things with taxes indirectly. However if a price was put on pollution itself you would have a better reflection of the true costs of the product. This would subsequenctly reduce/shift tax burdon from income to pollution in a more direct manner. I would suspect this would reduce the cost of cleanup and disposal significantly as it becomes a compeditive advantage to reduce pollution costs for any individual company. It would also create a fair price on all aspects of a prodicts use from obtainment to disposal. Then you would have a true price comparrison for renewables and non….

Putting a price on carbon (dioxide), either a tax or a cap & trade, will level the field between fossil carbon fuels and renewables.

I saw a clear example of this last year. I had a long random telephone poll, all questions clearly slanted to the oil industry. Questions like, “There were no leaks from oil platforms in the Gulf during Hurricane Katrina. Doesn t this mean drilling is safe on the Atlantic or Pacific coast of the U.S.?” I thought: something big is coming…. Two weeks later congressional Republicans launched a massive campaign to nail down drilling rights for the next 25 years. The timing was right: while they still had some power and gas prices were $4 a gallon. Their talking points were direct from the poll. The questions were tested to find out what I would be most apt to agree with. (Not much, in my case, they were all loaded.) The most favorable questions were selected and doled out to Republican mouthpieces, er, senate and house leaders. Yeah, thats how it works.

What the CBO analysis and most reviewers of the Waxman Markey bill fail to take into account is the provisions that exempt GHGs from the US production of exported products from the US cap. Once we account for this exemption, the W-M bill creates a US GHG allowance supply that exceeds covered GHGs through 2020 and perhaps even through 2025. The picture the Republicans cribbed from Peabody massively exaggerates the real reduction obligations embedded in the cap and trade provisions in the bill because of its failure to account for the exemption.

And,of course, this law simply means that as US demand for US-made coal and petroleum-based fuels declines, those US fuels will continue to be manufactured for export to developing nation markets. This means a massive shift in trade patterns. While the US is a large net crude oil importer, US refineries actually produce about 10% more finished petroleum products than the US market consumes at this time. When the US refineries start exporting more refined product made under the CO2 exemption, global GHGs will go up, not down.

This is exactly how US cap and trade worked for the leaded gasoline phase out. US domestic sales of leaded fuel was largely phased out by 1988. But US refiners exported leaded fuel to Asian markets through 1995.

It might also be worth noting that Norway’s refineries are already exempted from Norway’s cap under the EU ETS. And the UK, Dutch, French, German and Swedish national action plans freely allocate 100% of the CO2 quota that their domestic refiners require to discharge GHGs on a business as usual basis through 2012. In Sweden, oil refineries are also exempt from ALL energy taxes (including duties, excise tax, CO2 tax, SO2 tax and NOx tax). Most EU nations have announced they will likley continue the practice of allowing domestic oil refineries to discharge GHGs on a “business as usual basis” through 2020. This is why BP holds an EU CO2 allowance surplus and accurately states that no shareholder risk derives from the EU CO2 cap, even though GHGs from BP’s European operations increased almost 23% between 2005 and the end of 2007. (source: BP’s 2008 filing at the Carbon Disclosure Porject).

As it turns out the EPA has a little problem with credibility. The recent exposure of the supression of a memo from one of their top researchers, which questions the science being used to justify the alarmism of climate change, brings to the forefront the truth about climate change, it’s more a matter of politics than science.


As it turns out the attack on EPA has a BIG problem with credibility. The recent ALLEGATIONS of supression of a memo from one of their ECONOMISTS, which reveals the DISTORTED science being used to UNDERMINE the science of climate change, brings to the forefront the truth about AGW DENIAL, it’s more a matter of politics and PSEUDO-science.
This flurry of the BOGUSPHERE also reveals the interconnections between THINKTANKS, DENIALISTS and the VESTED INTERESTS.