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Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Statistics from industry on pollution control costs

March 13th, 2008 · 6 Comments

One sign that serious people consider some form of carbon-constraining legislation in the United States a serious possibility is the proliferation of industry-funded “analysis” somehow “proving” that “Global Warming is going to wreck the economy”. 

You know the old adage, “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”.  Well, there really should be a new category added: 

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Statistics from Industry Projecting Pollution Control Costs

Time after time, when faced with potential mandates, industry has warned of disaster to come economically.  Seat belts, crash worthiness, air bags in cars: people won’t be able to buy cars.  Need to replace CFCs, costs will be so high that you’d have to be a Rockefeller to afford air conditioning or a refrigerator.  Reducing sulphur emissions and electricity bills will skyrocket.  Every time the potential mandate has emerged, the screams of pain to come fill our ears and politicians’ in-boxes, backed by tainted study after tainted study. The study that the National Association of Manufacturers‘ paid for, released earlier today,  Analysis of  The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191) Using the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS),  fits well within that long lineage.

This study is starting to get marked up … by my hand and I’m certain others.  Let’s look at some what seem to be some of its weaknesses, gaps, misleading elements:

  • Wind power, even in the “low cost” scenario, has a maximum penetration rate of 5 gigawatts per year.  Remember, wind nameplate capacity installations are growing at over 25 percent per year. In 2007, the United States installed 5.244 gigawatts. Thus, in the “low cost” scenario, NAMS bought-and-paid-for study has us going backward. 
  • Wind power proponents should feel slighted.  Solar?  Not in the equation.  Improved hydro?  Not there.  Geothermal?  Not there. Etc …
  • Does not account, in anyway it seems, for the introduction of energy efficiency systems and the reduced “cost” of energy due to reduced energy use. Nor, for the jobs that would be created for all this work.
  • Their assumptions as to technology costs seem designed to lead to exaggerated costs throughout the analysis.
  • Seems to assume zero manufacturing increases and zero increased possibilities in the green economy, including the potential export of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
  • Where is the positive impact on the US economy and US competitiveness due to the reduction in imported oil?
  • Does not account for any of the “external” benefits that have a quite real impact on the overall economy and society, such as improved health through reduced pollution.

This is a preliminary look. 

I need to go get some more highlighters and red pens, because I’m running out of ink.

As one Lieberman aide noted, it is

like a poster in the subway that says ‘THIS TRAIN WILL GO OFF THE RAILS’ in huge bold type and then, in tiny type at the bottom, ‘unless the train has wheels.’

NOTE:  This does not change my concerns about Lieberman-Warner.  On the other hand, that NAM and I both state that Lieberman-Warner has serious problems does not give substance to NAM’s lying with false statistics. 

And, let me make it clear, honest analysis would show that dealing with Global Warming in an Energy Smart way is will be profitable for society, even without accounting for all the avoided dangers and risks of unconstrained Global Warming.

See also:  Climate Progress Wrong Again 1: Business Attacks Climate Security Act.

Tags: Global Warming · climate change · emissions · environmental · lieberman-warner · politics · pollution

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