Big Utilities Trot Out Union of Concerned Scientists
Now that the Natural Resources Defense Council and its lead spokesman, Ralph Cavanagh, have been battered by Prop 7 enthusiasts for their historical and well-documented role as Utility Shill/Cheerleader, the Utility-funded No on Prop 7 campaign has switched gears and is trotting out the Union of Concerned Scientists to hide behind. As Dr. Donald Aitken, one of the first proponents of a Renewables Portfolio Standard noted:
“It dismays me to see the environmental organizations resorting to such tactics, and presenting arguments not based on fact, or that distort fact. And it should certainly dismay them to be in bed with the utilities, who are absolutely gleeful that they have a cover for their perennial opposition to more aggressive applications of renewables."
Dr. Aitken was no doubt thinking of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) when he made that statement, for they have decided to participate in the fact-distortion campaign on behalf of the Big Utilities. But while Dr. Aitken may be dismayed, I am in no way surprised.
The UCS is something of a side kick to their better-endowed counterpart NRDC. Right along with NRDC, UCS sits on the same boards of directors that are dominated by utility executives. These utility-infielders holding themselves out to the public as ‘environmental’ groups that UCS is cozy with include CEERT and CFE&E. This helps explain why the UCS’s ‘analysis’ of Prop 7 is loaded with innuendos to trick the unwary reader, which I shall go through below. But first, a threshold question: how much are you willing to trust an organization that holds hands with a utility-shill ‘environmental’ group like NRDC??
Now to the UCS’s distorted attack on Prop 7:
UCS begins its flawed analysis with the claim that Prop 7 has loopholes for the utilities, and “…according to an independent legislative analysis these loopholes are ‘susceptible to manipulation.’”
This is an especially loathsome play on words. What the UCS is doing here is trying to lull the reader into believing that the very credible and non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office – which everyone cites to when they want to end an argument in their favor – actually made this determination. Read the Legislative Analyst’s Office report for yourself. The LAO made absolutely no findings as to ‘loopholes’ of any kind. Instead, the LAO reports that the current cap on penalties against the utilities is removed (current law caps the amount a utility can be fined for not meeting the RPS) and prohibits the utilities from passing on the fines to ratepayers. MAYBE this is why the Big Utilities are spending $27.5 million to defeat Prop 7 and using up every chit they’ve every had with California’s environmental groups to defeat it. And MAYBE the $27.5 million campaign to defeat clean energy demonstrates how absurd and manipulative it is for the UCS to claim the initiative has loopholes that would benefit the utilities.
The UCS also jumped on the “small renewable producers will be shut out the market” hysteria that has no basis in reality or in the initiative. The Independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, in consultation with the Legislative Counsel (yes, that would be a whole bunch of smarty-pants lawyers) saw absolutely no basis for the claim that Proposition 7 would exclude small renewable producers, which is why you see NO MENTION of it in their analysis. Magically, the only attorneys who claimed such a thing exists were the (very expensive) lawyers hired by the Big Utilities to defeat Proposition 7.
The UCS’s decision to put forth lies about Proposition 7, and to try to intentionally manipulate readers into believing the lies are endorsed by the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, should cause dismay. But after months of writing about the deep inroads that the Big Utilities have managed to make into the environmental community in California, it is sadly, no great surprise.