Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inspiring Moms Fight Coal Industry

A recent incident in Michigan highlights the great job that Moms Clean Air Force is doing to bring the truth about coal to the public, and to get good things done.

They've got a ballot initiative up for vote that would mandate 25% renewables by 2020 because, as they put it, coal-fired plants pollute their children with mercury.

That is, electricity generated by burning coal creates pollution that includes mercury as opposed to electricity generated through renewables creates zero or very low pollution.

It's helpful to keep in mind: The electricity itself is not the problem, it's how the electricity is created.

The fossil fuel industry's response to an attempt to make the air cleaner is a misleading and flat out untrue media campaign against the Moms.  But Moms are hanging tough.

In a good post on Care2, Moms line by line refute the fossil fueler's apparently spurious, fear mongering, and negative campaign.  Reprinted here:

Moms Counter the Coal Industry's Wild Claims 

The following is a breakdown of the utility companies’ false TV ad attacking Proposal 3, along with the facts:

Claim: “In a few short weeks, you’ll be asked to vote on an energy mandate that would be locked into our state Constitution.”

Fact: More than 30 states have already adopted measures similar to Michigan’s ballot initiative, according to the July 6, 2012, edition of Crain’s Detroit Business — without significant increases in utility costs for consumers.

Claim: “And because it would be locked into the state Constitution in a way that cannot be changed quickly or easily…”

Fact: Building a single coal plant locks ratepayers into a commitment for 40-60 years. Once construction starts there is no ability to change course. The ballot measure directs the state to set small, interim steps to build toward 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. Each renewable energy project is smaller than a new coal plant and can incorporate the latest technology or cost-saving measures.

Claim: “…This energy mandate would affect your own family’s utility bills and taxes for years to come.”

Fact: Proposal 3 includes an explicit provision saying utilities cannot raise electricity prices related to the cost of generating renewable energy by any more than 1 percent on any given year. For the average Michigan household, that’s no more than $1.25 a month.

Claim: “So, it’s important to know the facts. Michigan would be forced to generate 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by the year 2025, even though it’s expensive and less reliable…”

Fact: Michigan consumers spend $1.7 billion a year importing coal from other states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, the latest wind contracts approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission have been at or below $65 per megawatt/hour – lower than the cost of new coal generation.

Moreover, a Public Sector Consultants report paid for by the utility companies and released last week stated: “The cost of renewable energy to meet the renewable portfolio standard is declining, particularly with several wind energy projects that are expected to go into service this year.”

A recent report from CERES showed that renewables are also less risky. Furthermore, coal-fired power plants can’t guarantee a price for more than three years. Delivered coal prices to Michigan are up 71 percent since 2006, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Wind farms can guarantee a price that will not change for at least 20 years, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Claim: “…Because the wind often doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.”

Fact: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that Michigan has capacity for 54,000 megawatts of high-quality wind generation sites, but compliance with the 25 by 2025 standard will require only about 4,600 megawatts.

Claim: “In fact, this experiment would have an estimated price tag of $12 billion. That works out to thousands of dollars in higher electric bills for Michigan families and small businesses.”

Fact: The cost of renewable energy has decreased by 30 percent in two years, according to the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. Illinois is on a path to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 and the Illinois Power Agency reports that it has reduced prices by $176 million.

Moms Deliver a Simple Message

Great stuff.  It can prompt awareness and outrage, which is not such a bad thing.  If you're all out of outrage, it is at least good to stay on your toes, be reminded of the importance of knowing the issues, and be aware (and let others know) of the things the fossil fuel industry is willing to do and say to resist a clean energy future.

It's also an example of what motivates people.  Moms Clean Air Force has delivered a very simple but powerful message:  Closing coal plants protects our children from mercury pollution. 

Not scare tactics, not hyperbole, but the clear, sober facts as they relate to burning coal and human health.  Hard to ignore.

It's also about language and solid communications.  Lies aside, note the language the opposing coal utilities use, words like "force" and "pay" and "reliable" -- these are effective words if you are trying to stir up any of the fears out there, hitting freedom, money issues in a recession, and the ability to run our lives on electricity.

This is the battle for renewables' soul and take heed, we all need renewable victories even if we don't know it or believe it. 

No comments: