Thursday, October 23, 2014

Meet the Newest Polluter Front Group: The Coalition to Lower Energy Costs

2007 Halloween Mask parade!It's not yet Halloween, but polluters have already gone out and bought themselves a new mask:
The Coalition to Lower Energy Costs has announced its formation and the beginning of a campaign to increase the supply of natural gas to New England by at least 2 billion cubic feet per day and thereby dramatically lower the region’s energy costs. 
The Coalition is registered to Michael Doherty of the lobbying firm Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios. For whatever reason the Coalition's release never comes out and says so, but it's clearly set up to lobby for Kinder Morgan Energy’s subsidiary, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., and its plan to charge New England ratepayers $3 billion to build Northeast Energy Direct, a fracked gas pipeline through New England for which you'd pay twice.
The coalition is made up of energy consumers and others who are concerned about the energy cost crisis in New England, which is paying far more for natural gas and electricity than the rest of the country.
Amazing that, just like Marc Brown's "New England Ratepayers Association" polluter front group, this group has already brought together all of New England's energy consumers just two weeks after the Coalition was formed. Maybe they can go trick or treating together!
This winter, energy costs are expected to skyrocket in the region. National Grid has already announced that the cost of electric supply for its Massachusetts consumers will increase by 96%.
Fracked gas is DOUBLING electricity costs, so the answer is ... to double down on fracked gas? Talk about blackmail. Buy more of our fracked gas or we'll raise prices even higher!
“It is an economic tragedy for New England that we are unable to access the low cost, domestic natural gas being enjoyed by the rest of country, even though Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale is less than 250 miles from Boston”, said Tony Buxton, General Counsel and Spokesperson for the Coalition. “Our businesses and families are struggling with skyrocketing energy costs and we know that we need 2 bcf of gas in order to end this crisis.”
A lot to unpack here. Let's break it down:
  1. You will be like totes shocked to hear Tony Buxton sits three cubes down from Michael Doherty at Preti Flaherty. 
  2. If the Coalition is going to put Tony Buxton out there as the Voice of the Common Ratepayer, it should probably not have him publicly quoted as a spokesperson for Kinder Morgan & the Tennessee Gas Pipeline right up the road in Maine. Googling is REALLY easy, y'all.
  3. "2 bcf"? Who talks like that? Can polluter front group robots not even get through a press release without smoke pouring out of their ears?
The real problem here in Massachusetts is that we've gone from being overly dependent on polluting coal to being overly dependent on polluting fracked gas. It's allowed utilities to jack up electricity rates to 25 cents per kilowatt hour in the winter, which makes Cape Wind's 19 cents/kwh seem downright cheap - and that's before you consider how much fracked gas threatens drinking water and fuels extreme weather.

Maybe we should wait and see how Cape Wind (coming soon) and projects like it impact electricity prices before committing $3 billion to a new fracked gas pipeline.

And for reporters and newspaper editors: I'm not saying you can never talk to these guys, but if you're going to quote them or run one of their op-eds, can you at least ask them who's funding them first? It would make my ANGRY BLOGGER heart grow three sizes that day.

UPDATE: One more thing. Their ad is horrifying. Are those hands hovering over the iPad even real hands, or are they creepy computer generated hands? I'm going to have nightmares about this tonight.
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