In a recent post, Bacons Rebellion extolled the findings of Hickman Analytics Inc., a suburban Washington consulting firm hired by the Consumer Energy Alliance, which found that according to a survey of 500 registered voters, the vast majority of Virginians support Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The $5 billion project would take natural gas released by hydraulic fracturing from West Virginia southeastward through Virginia into North Carolina. Dominion has taken some strong-arm tactics to force the project through, such as suing property owners who declined to let surveyors onto their property.
Having reported on the controversy in such places as Nelson County, I was surprised to note the Hickman results showing such a strong support for the pipeline.
Maybe, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
Let’s start with the so-called “Consumer Energy Alliance.” For starters, it is a Texas based lobbying group funded by such fossil fuel giants as ExxonMobil and Devon Energy, perhaps the largest independent oil rim in the country plus as host of utilities.
It has been traversing the United States drumming up support, often through dubious polls, against initiatives to cut back on carbon emissions. It supports the Keystone XL and other petroleum pipelines.
Says SourceWatch, quoting Salon.com, “The CEA is part of a sophisticated public affairs strategy designed to manipulate the U.S. political system by deluging the media with messaging favorable to the tar-sands industry; to persuade key state and federal legislators to act in the extractive industries’ favor; and to defeat any attempt to regulate the carbon emissions emanating from gasoline and diesel used by U.S. vehicles.”
The group was created in the late 2000s by Michael Whatley a Republican energy lobbyist with links to the Canadian and American oil sector.
The alliance’s modus operandi is to use “polls” presumably of average voters on key energy issues.
In Wisconsin, the CEA got involved in a battle over an attempt by electric utilities to hike rates if individual homeowners used solar panels to generate power. The state is dominated by coal-fired power and hasn’t done much with renewables. The utilities claim that they paid for the electricity grid and therefore home-power generators must pay extra for its use and the cost should be shared by all through rate hikes.
Many ratepayers opposed this blatant attempt to push back at solar power. Then, all the way from Texas and Washington, the Consumer Energy Alliance jumped in with the names of 2,500 local ratepayers who backed the rate hikes. It wanted to give their names to Wisconsin regulators.
The Grist asked: “What dog does CEA, a trade group from Texas, have in Wisconsin’s fight, anyway? Well, CEA represents the interests of mostly fossil fuel companies, so it is engaged in a nationwide campaign to slow the spread of home-produced renewable energy. It has a regional Midwest chapter, which pushes for fracking and for President Obama to approve the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline.”
I was likewise puzzled by the Virginia pipeline survey that CEA paid for by Hickman Analytics, a Chevy Chase, Md. firm that does a lot of political polling. The firm is powerful and its principals were heavily involved with disgraced Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.
There was a poll by Hickman for CEA showing that New Hampshire vote just love Arctic offshore drilling. That’s off because the Granite State isn’t anywhere close to the Arctic despite its cold winters.
There was another Hickman/CEA poll showing how much Coloradans love the Keystone XL pipeline – another curiosity because the last time I checked that pipeline doesn’t run through Colorado.
And, fresh with a “five figure” sponsorship from Dominion, Bacon’s Rebellion publisher James A. Bacon Jr. starts writing about this dubious poll from a dubious source showing that Virginians are tickled pink with the ACL pipeline. When questioned, he says it’s nothing different from a poll funded by the Sierra Club.
Maybe, on another matter, it is curious that Bacon’s Rebellion’s sponsorship deal with Dominion which Jim posted online is signed by Daniel A. Weekley, vice president for Dominion corporate affairs.
The very same Mr. Weekley signed an informational packet sent out to Virginia homeowners impacted by the proposed pipeline route telling them what a great thing the pipeline is.
Am I connecting the dots correctly?