Debunking Polluter Rhetoric

Carbon Debunk Crop

Big polluters have launched a full-on assault of the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to limit carbon pollution and protect public health and future generations. Using misleading advertisements and other tactics, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association, and other industry lobby groups are attempting to undermine the EPA’s move to cut carbon pollution from power plants–despite strong support from the American public for such action.

Much like the deceptive “war on coal” messaging used by the same fossil-fuel sponsored interests, there is little credibility to this industry p.r. campaign. In fact, the Washington Post awarded “4 pinocchios” to one of the leading claims that cutting carbon from power plants wouldl double electricity prices, and the EPA called an industry “jobs” analysis “the same tired play from the same special interest playbook.”

What’s happening in the states

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has led a calculated effort by state lawmakers to pass legislation that would tie the hands of state regulators to effectively implement the rule.

ALEC receives 98% of its funding from corporations, trade associations, and corporate foundations, and hosts annual conferences where model bills are agreed upon, glossy campaign materials are distributed to state legislators who return home and push the bills in their home states. Several of ALEC’s corporate members are linked to the coal and utility industries, including Peabody Coal, American Electric Power, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

In 2014, we have seen coordinated attempts to undermine the EPA’s carbon pollution rules in almost a dozen states, including Tennessee and Virginia.

The sky is not falling

The primary claims used by the pro-polluters? The EPA standards will hurt the economy, double electricity bills and kill jobs. These hyped up claims — virtually the same “sky is falling” rhetoric from the past — are easily debunked. In the 1960s, when smog choked many American cities, critics said EPA’s plans for cleaning tailpipe pollution would cripple the auto industry. Instead, the air got cleaner, and the auto industry thrived.

A decade later, when acid rain was killing forests and poisoning waters, the electric industry inflated the potential costs and impact of reducing sulfur dioxide. Again, the claims proved wrong and the acid rain program is considered a clear success.

“Time after time, when science pointed to health risks, special interests cried wolf to protect their own agenda. And time after time, we followed the science, protected the American people, and the doomsday predictions never came true. – EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, June 2, 2014.”

Americans support carbon cuts

The special interest agenda runs counter to Americans’ growing concerns about the threats of global warming, notwithstanding political affiliation. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 70 percent of people say the federal government should require greenhouse gas limits from existing power plants, and 70 percent also support requiring states to limit greenhouse gas emissions in their borders.

The EPA proposal is based on flexibility, allowing states to choose a variety of ways to cut carbon pollution based on their energy mix, their energy laws, and their clean energy potential. Additionally, it provides enough time for utilities to make changes without affecting reliability. Because of this flexibility, the timeline, and the likelihood that consumers will be using less energy, many Americans will see lower or only slightly higher electric bills.

Carbon cuts boost economy

Importantly, the proposal will help protect our health by cutting power plant pollution and mitigating the impacts of climate change, including worsening heat waves, floods, and storms. It will also drive investments and innovation that will strengthen the economy. Since 1970, every dollar invested in compliance with Clean Air Act standards has yielded $4 to $8 in economic benefits. An analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council released in May, 2014, shows that we can achieve these reductions in carbon pollution while adding more than 274,000 jobs nationally.

More information can be found on EPA’s Clean Power Plan website.

Our work

Appalachian Voices is working to cut carbon emissions in the region through our programs to promote energy efficiency and clean energy economies throughout the Southeast:

Our National Partners

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Climate Action Network 350 dot org