October 29th, 2009
05:50 PM ET
13 years ago

Industry group blasted for 'fraudulent' information on energy bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic Rep. Edward Markey, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, grilled witnesses Thursday on what he called "fraudulent letters" sent to Congress on energy and climate legislation before a crucial House vote on the issue.

The select committee said on it's Web site that its members and staff discovered more than a dozen fraudulent letters sent to members of Congress by the consulting company Bonner & Associates, on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), that claimed electricity rates would rise under a House bill. On its Web site, ACCCE describes itself as a partnership of industries involved in producing electricity from coal.

According to the select committee's Web site, the legislation would have "minimal costs" to consumers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "found the overall impact on the average household would be 22 to 30 cents per day ($80 to $111 per year) - or less than the cost of a postage stamp a day," the committee Web site says.

The legislation in question, co-sponsored by Markey, ultimately passed the House on June 26 - but in a close vote of 219 to 212. The legislation, which says it aims to "create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy," is now before the U.S. Senate.

At the hearing, Markey and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Washington, focused their criticism on Steve Miller, president and CEO of ACCCE, and Bonner & Associates.

"It seems to me you were trying to kill the bill. That's what translates to these letters," Markey said to Miller. "These letters don't reflect a desire to communicate with voters."

Miller conceded that he was "profoundly disappointed" that members of Congress weren't notified that they had received misinformation.

But his group, Miller added, is now implementing a new ethics code requiring that "anything we can't verify in 24 hours will require [us] to notify the member." He also stated that the letters talked about an increased cost to consumers in the bill, but it didn't quantify how much.

"I'd also add that those letters don't urge opposition to the bill," he said.

Inslee later examined the use of telephone calls made to constituents by Bonner & Associates workers that referenced the rise in electric rates. A memo sent to those employees, Inslee said, instructed "them to tell them (citizens) that electrical rates could double due to pending legislation in Congress."

But Miller argued the document cited by Inslee was an early training document that he believed was dropped from the language used in the calls.

Miller also told the committee that he would be happy to send a letter to each organization that Bonner & Associates reached out to on the issue "as a follow-up to this hearing to say to them that if in fact that someone on behalf of Bonner and Associates said that their electricity rates would double here … that that is not a position that has ever been taken."

Asked if ACCCE would reach out to senators now debating a climate-change bill about the misleading information, Miller said he was uncertain he could reach out to all 100 members.

"But I will tell you and other members of the committee that we will be extremely responsible in any assertions we make to cost, that we will share with members of the United States Senate … that there is a clear range of belief on what these price increase may be," Miller said.

Filed under: Energy
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Mike in MN

    More of the same from the coal lobby – working hard to buy off congress, so you don't have to.

    October 29, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. Marie - Reno, NV

    Hmmm... a for-profit energy company using resources to falsify information to derail legislation, what a shocker (sarcasm). I don't know if there is anything more convincing that this legislation would be good for consumers than the unethical actions taken by the very company who stands to lose.

    October 29, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. OldUncleTom

    We have "clean coal" technology already; its called "Leave it in the Ground".

    Obviously this is not very practical. But neither is building new coal-burning power plants.

    What is the fuel cost of solar and/or wind technology? If you guessed "zero", you are spot on. If some company could get the rights to sell sunshine and moving air, you can bet we'd have promotion of these sources too.

    October 29, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. New Father

    Another company says something that Dems don't like and well here we go again it must be anyone who dare question them is lying. A country overseas is trying the same go green Obama wants. Estimated cost $880,000+ per job created because the technology just isn't there yet. Here in FL, FLP will do much better, with only $400 million of tax payer money they will throw in the same and create 6000 jobs. Only $135,000 per job. I can't wait to see what 3 million new green jobs will cost.

    October 29, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  5. joc,alabama

    Republicans like to mislead the nation,keep up the good work Mr. President GOD has his hands around.

    October 29, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  6. m smith

    Good we need to take on all the special interest groups and sort out their lies. Let's see who is paying who

    October 29, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  7. Janis Alanis

    Funny. The Daily Show ran this like two weeks ago. Just sayin'...

    October 29, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  8. Idiot_Pelosi

    Markey is full of crap. First he admits energy costs will go up, but tries to sell it as "only by a little". How much confidence do you have it that?

    Energy costs will go up more than they expect, and once again, we get to foot the bill.

    Markey is full of Marlarky.

    October 29, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. dan smith

    Any member of congress that votes for this garbage needs to be thrown out of office on their posterior. Leave it up to a dumbocrat to come up with a stupid idea like the Cap and Tax bill. If you dumbocrats really believe the energy companies are not going to pass the cost on to their customers your living in La La land.

    October 29, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. Peter E

    And what's so wrong with rising energy costs? It's because people don't want to pay more. Guess what, there is an easy way to do that: turn off your computer now, and moderate your AC/heating throughout the year! You'll easily save over two hundred dollars if you just use less electricity! But I guess Americans think they have a 'right' to cheap electricity and to needlessly waste it in their homes and offices, even when they aren't even there!

    October 29, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. Limbaugh is a liberal

    America already has half the electricity cost rates of any other country in the world. And yet those other countries don't go broke. Why? Because they don't cool movie theatres in the summer with wasteful AC to 50F. (seriously, I walk around in shorts, flip-flops and a t-shirt, and I still have to bring a jacket with me to the movies because it's freezing in there!) If we just start using electricity reasonably we wouldn't have a problem with energy costs at all!

    October 29, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. Thomas

    What else is new ?

    October 29, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. BS TALKS

    GOP can't win on the TRUTH has to resort to FABRICATED LIES to TERRORIZE AMERICA.

    Why does the GOP want to bankrupt America for Saudi Arabia?

    October 29, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Albo58

    Crap & Tax legislation is completely fraudulent and it comes at a time of double digit unemployment in our country! As Portugal can attest, there were NO big green jobs boom and NO great increase in energy independence. In the end, all it id did was increase taxes and unemployment while contributing very little to nothing toward "cleaning up the environment"!

    October 29, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. ib

    Anyone who believes the postage stamp price for this bill is either blind or stupid. This should be called cap and scam because that is what it is. I'm sick of these hard core people trying to destroy our way of life over a theory and so far that is all it is a theory.

    October 29, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. RG

    I find it very funny that people in this country put hundreds of comments on any news related to Palin, Obama or McCain than none for something that is useful and informative.

    October 29, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  17. Bob in Pa

    Everything would increase in price. How stupid does the Congress think we are ?

    October 29, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  18. Old Farmboy

    The determination of truth is empowered to those with the knowledge of the facts. We the people... the preamble to one of this countries most sacred document, isn't always allowed to view those facts and come to our own conclusions. That's why we have a representative. A one that is given the power from those people to represent their word... Their dreams... Their hope... Their wisdom. There was a time when we stood behind those facets and those elected officials stood behind and was vocal with the words of the people he, or she, represented. I probably won't see it in my lifetime, but one day, I hope that the values we entrusted our representatives with will be honored...

    Once again, have a nice day...

    October 29, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  19. 60's survivor

    yeah look who's behind the lies and what they stand to lose with energy reform!

    October 29, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  20. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    So "ACCCE" lied one way and politicians lied the other way. Not exactly a surprise, is it?

    The first principle of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, is lie to the people.

    October 29, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |