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ACES Opposition based on Deception … the Putnam example

June 27th, 2009 · 2 Comments

While there are quite serious issues to consider in how ACES was weakened leading to its passage yesterday and serious issues about whether this is the bill that is required, the vast majority of the opposition to the bill relied on deceit and deception.  In part, Representative Lloyd Doggett’s decision to flip his vote from no to yes came based on listening to floor statements by card-carrying members of the Global Warming denial wing of the Flat Earth Society.

The misrepresentation of ACES comes not only in terms of demonstrated anti-science syndrome suffering, but also from misrepresenting the bill’s impacts and priorities.

Republican Representative Adam Putnam hails from Florida, a state on the front lines of quite serious threats from catastrophic climate change.  Let’s take a moment to consider Putnam’s misleading statement justifying opposition to American Clean Energy and Security which, like any good truthiness, mixes truths with its deception.

“We need a comprehensive energy and environmental policy to protect and sustain our nation’s natural resources while providing for a strong American economy,” said Putnam.

Yes, Adam, you are right.  “We need a comprehensive energy and environmental policy”.  The opportunities are before us for truly recognizing that is Energy + Economy + Environment, not Energy/Economy vs the Environment.

“But the harder I look at this bill, the harder it is to support it.  It fails in so many fundamental ways.  It punishes the first to innovate and it rewards the last.

Well, there are many failures and inadequacies to ACES while there are some tremendous benefits.  And, those failures and inadequacies certainly made it difficult for me to beat the drums in support of the bill, especially as it was weakened virtually day in and day out.

And, it does ‘punish the first to innovate and rewards the last’ since polluters are going to receive massive subsidies and those who have stepped out and invested in clean energy and energy efficiency in the past don’t seem to receive rewards from their actions in the past in the support of the public good.

Thus, one paragraph in and Adam Putnam is mainly speaking truth — even if it is not true because of what he intends by the words.

“It misses so many opportunities to reward good stewards of the earth and to encourage innovation.

Well, yes, Adam, some more agreement. For example, a weak renewable electricity standard (RES) of 20% (5% from energy efficiency), with governors able to waive much of the requirements, is slightly better than a joke.  30% by 2020 is an easily achievable target and would have done more “to reward good stewards of the earth and to encourage innovation.”

It fails to foster development of nuclear power, which emits zero carbon. It fails to encourage the development of clean coal technology – something which is being pioneered in Central Florida. No serious energy policy can ignore the development of these fuel sources, which are necessary to make us more energy secure and less dependent on hostile nations.


When we get to truthiness, it hits hard.

  1. The bill has provisions which “foster development of nuclear power”, which build on previous energy bill material supporting nuclear power. While nuclear power is not central, it certainly has support.
  2. “fails to encourage the development of clean coal technology”. Here we get to an utter and outright falsehood, that no amount of sleight-of-hand can make into truth.  ACES has, at a minimum, $10s of billions headed toward clean-coal technology development and rewards for early adopters/deployers of clean-coal systems. And, dependent on how this deployment works, the subsidies range into the $100s of billions of dollars.
  3. “No serious energy policy can ignore the development of these fuel sources, which are necessary to make us more energy secure …” Well, this is deceptive, at best.  While Putnam might disagree with them, there are quite serious energy policy proposals that eliminate coal from the power system. It is simply a falsehood that additional coal development is required to support US economic growth. And, it is one of ACES’ great failures that it seems to fall for the truthiness that we can’t live without coal moving forward.
  4. “less dependent on hostile nations …” Will Representative Putnam explain to his voters how nuclear power and coal development would make the United States “less dependent on hostile nations”?  After all, they are for electricity and oil is put into Putnam’s McSUV. Right now, the two energy domains basically don’t interact and changing our electricity mix has essentially no impact on our oil dependencies.

Thus, four direct errors and falsehoods with one intellectually-challenged deception. Pretty impressive for two sentences.

“In addition, this legislation will impose a cost burden on consumers,” Putnam said. “And it will raise costs at a time when we can least afford them. This will increase utility rates by as much a 57 percent, according to local estimates.

Mr Putnam, the CBO says otherwise. Without counting energy efficiency, the cost would be $175 per year for the average household. Start to factor in things like energy efficiency and improving health, and we move from ‘cost burden’ to benefit.

And, amusingly, why does Mr Putnam focus on “consumer” rather than “citizen”. Interesting …

Higher energy costs as we painfully witnessed last summer mean less discretionary spending and more jobs moved overseas.”

Well, what were those “higher energy costs” coming from?  Dependency on foreign oil, which ACES will help cut.  Inefficient energy use, which ACES will help reduce.  And, the issue truly is not the cost per gallon or the cost per kilowatt hour, but the costs of total energy services. Due to, mainly, its energy efficiency provisions, ACES will lead to a reduction in total energy costs for the average household.

All in all, Putnam’s is a good example of truthiness. A truthful beginning, even if the reason for the truth isn’t what he later represents, and then bold statements of deception and outright falsehoods that, typically, will be believed by the casual listerner who doesn’t have the detailed knowledge that makes blatantly obvious the ignorance and deceit the comments represent.

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Tags: Congress · truthiness

2 responses so far ↓

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