Yes, it's another week and another unsurprising editorial on coal, Obama and the EPA. This one uses Capito's bill (see 2 posts down) as its starting point to make the same tired arguments as its predecessors:
Democrats blindly follow the President. Obama tells them what they should do rather than listening to their constituents. This is a mainstay of their editorials and it is, according to them, why we are in the mess that we are in. From yesterday's editorial:
Other initiatives have failed because many senators refuse to defend those who elected them - often preferring instead to stand with their party's president, Barack Obama.
Amazing to me, the editorial makes this point in the same week that Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the President. From The Hill:
A motion to proceed to the fast-track bill fell short of a 60-vote threshold in a 52-45 vote on Tuesday, an embarrassing blow to President Obama's trade agenda, with only one Democrat voting in favor. (emphasis mine)
Note also that Obama is a lame duck and consequently his power over the Democratic Party diminishes daily.
A majority of Americans favor doing little or nothing about climate change. This one tends to be implicitly built into all of their arguments about the subject. The President and his Democratic followers, according to the editorials, are forcing the American people to do something they don't want to do -- deal with climate change. In order to argue this, the editorials must ignore the weekly reports of polls that supports the opposite -- that a majority of Americans want the President and Congress to do something about climate change. Here's the results of some recent polls as reported by The Hill on May 7:
According to a new ABC News poll, 59 percent of Americans want the next president to be one who favors government action to address climate change. 72 percent of Americans who are likely to vote in 2016 support an international agreement to cut greenhouse gases. Another recent poll from Stanford University dispels the myth that Republicans do not support fighting climate change: 48 percent of Republicans polled would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, and 71 percent of those polled believe that failing to reduce carbon emissions will be an enormous problem in the long run.
Electric bills will double, triple, or go up by a $1,000 a year. From the editorial:
If that happens, electric bills for tens of millions of Americans will soar, perhaps by as much as $1,000 a year. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., one of the bill's co-sponsors, estimates it will cost the nation $479 billion during the next 15 years.
This one is the most predictable. Just like any speech from local favorite, Bob Murray, every anti-EPA editorial will contain a version of this factoid. But is it true? I spent some time yesterday trying to track down the evidence's origins. I found that Inhofe and this anti-EPA editorial are referring to a study done by NERA Economic Consulting. A number of scientific sources question the reliability of this source and its conclusions. Here, for example, is the Union of Concerned Scientists:
In attempting to analyze the potential costs and benefits of the EPA’s proposal, NERA’s analysis suffers from a variety of errors and biases, particularly around the role that energy efficiency has to play in cost-effectively reducing carbon emissions.
The Union of Concerned Scientists also point to who paid for the study:
NERA’s analysis was commissioned by fossil fuel industry trade groups that represent several of the world’s largest emitters of carbon emissions. Members of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity include powerful coal interests, such as Peabody Energy and Murray Energy, whose CEO has described climate change as a “hoax” on Fox News. The Board of Directors for the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) includes BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell.
(Very interesting. No wonder Bob Murray uses this "information" in the Wheeling Service Club Tour - he paid for it, he might as well get his money's worth.) The Washington Post's fact checker also looked at Inhofe's claim. Here is their conclusion:
His claim that electricity prices will increase by double digits comes from a study commissioned by industry groups that oppose the Clean Power Plan. But the claim is misleading. His estimates are on the high end of a range of cost impacts, which are mere projections at this point.
Okay, for arguments sake, let's concede that power will cost more in the future. How do Americans feel about paying more for electricity in the future? The Intelligencer describes the horror but last year a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that:
Americans are also increasingly willing to stomach higher electricity costs in order to cut carbon emissions. More than half of poll respondents—57%—said they would support a proposal requiring companies to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming even if it means higher utility bills. That figure is up 9 percentage points since October 2009.
So, despite what the Intelligencer asserts, a majority of Americans are willing to pay higher utility bills if it means that carbon emissions will be cut.
Finally, the editorials frequently play to the anti-Obama sentiment found in this state. This one has some subtle and not-so-subtle points that I will save for a later date.