Home > Uncategorized > NJ Spotlight Prints Climate Lies – A Remarkable Abdication Of Journalistic Integrity In a Time of Corporate Lies & Climate Catastrophe

NJ Spotlight Prints Climate Lies – A Remarkable Abdication Of Journalistic Integrity In a Time of Corporate Lies & Climate Catastrophe

Fossil Industry Still Lying On Climate and Energy With Impunity

There are Two Legislative Caps On Solar – Financial and Technical

Until both caps are eliminated, NJ can not move forward on solar and renewable power

Back in the day, when I was a young avid daily NY Times reader, it was customary to come across the bottom right hand quarter of the Op-Ed page, where Mobil or Exxon were allowed to spew their corporate propaganda, misinformation and lies – for a large fee to the NY Times’ corporate coffers, no doubt.

Fast forward 50 years, and I now read on the front page of that same NY Times that the New York State Attorney General is suing Exxon for lying to shareholders (and the public) about climate change science and actual financial risks, see:

After four years of legal sparring and finger-pointing, oil-industry giant Exxon Mobil went to court on Tuesday to face charges that the company lied to shareholders and to the public about the costs and consequences of climate change.

The case turns on the claim that Exxon kept a secret set of financial books that seriously underestimated the costs of potential climate change regulation while claiming publicly that it was taking such factors into account. It follows a sprawling investigation that included millions of pages of documents and allegations of a chief executive’s secret email account.

Did the NY Times contribute to these lies by giving the oil industry a quarter of the Op-Ed page to spew those lies?

Did the NY Times contribute to these lies by failing to report the science in a way that directly confronted and exposed the lies that they were allowing to be printed in their own paper? By printing scores of “he said/she said” stories that gave these false claims legitimacy?

Would the NY Times print these lies today?

The questions answer themselves.

So, with this context in mind, I was beyond disgusted yesterday to read “sponsored content” in NJ Spotlight by the same pack of corporate oil and gas industry liars, operating as a dark money propaganda front group purported to protect consumers and families, see:

The “sponsored content” was written on behalf of Consumer Energy Alliance.

Consumer Energy Alliance is a corporate front group for the oil and gas industry.

According to Sourcewatch (Center for Media and Democracy):

The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a nonprofit organization and a front group for the energy industry that opposes political efforts to regulate carbon standards while advancing deep water and land-based drilling for oil and methane gas. The CEA supports lifting moratoria on offshore and land-based oil and natural gas drilling, encourages the creation and expansion of petroleum refineries and easing the permitting process for drilling. The group also says it supports energy conservation. CEO portrays itself as seeking to ensure a “proper balance” between traditional non-renewable and extractive energy sources and alternative energy sources. The group also supports construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.[1][2][3]

According to Salon.com, which obtained over 300 emails of personal messages between lobbyists and Canadian officials, 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.[4]

Shame on NJ Spotlight for taking money from and giving these fraudsters a platform to mislead and lie to their readers and the people of NJ.

In light of science on the climate emergency and the NY AG lawsuit on Exxon’s lies, such a move is unconscionable and unforgivable.

Not to be outdone, in an extraordinary move, on the same day NJ Spotlight gave these corporate fraudsters a “sponsored content” platform to lie and attack the Rocky Mountain Institute, on the news side – in reporting on that same RMI report they allowed CEA to smear – they allowed former Christie DEP hack Ray Cantor an opportunity to misrepresent the Rocky Mountain Institute’s analysis:

“There are concerns over what is still left out,’’ said Ray Cantor, a vice president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, who listened in on a webinar Friday that detailed the modeling results. He mentioned the potential impacts to ratepayers; costs of various programs that were left out; and various assumptions made by the consultants, including a very high reliance on New Jersey solar energy to provide the power needed to replace fossil fuels.

NJ Spotlight actually put Christie DEP hack Ray Cantor – who was caught flat out lying to the legislature in testimony not so long ago – on an equal credibility footing with Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute, based on Cantor’s “listening in on a webinar“!

How often does a media outlet provide a liars propaganda platform to attack the substance of a news story on the same day as a major new story?

That is remarkably irresponsible.

Amory Lovins is a longtime leading world expert on energy issues and the Chief Scientist at Rocky Mountain Institute. The RMI has highest technical credibility and their Report was the product of many hours of expert analysis.

Ray Cantor was trained as a lawyer and spent his career in Trenton partisan politics. His analysis was based on listening in to a webinar. He represents business interests with a huge economic stake in lying.

NJ Spotlight reporter Tom Johnson had to know this was total bullshit to equate these opinions.

So Tom then went on to cover his ass on this unprofessional crap by using – of all people – Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club in a way to support and validate Cantor’s criticisms. Follow:

By 2050, solar energy is projected to provide 34% of the state’s electricity generating capacity — even more than offshore wind even though the consultant’s projections envision it nearly tripling from current projections of 3,500 megawatts.

That struck some clean-energy advocates as surprisingly high — given a year-long fight over how to rein in what ratepayers pay to subsidize solar energy in New Jersey, a cost that has been running at over a half-billion dollars a year. In addition, a new clean-energy law puts a cap on how much solar can cost utility ratepayers.

“I am wondering how they could project so much solar with us living with the solar cap,’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Tittel was likely commenting on the “solar cap” to generate support for legislation to eliminate it.

But Tom Johnson used Tittel’s quote to support Cantor’s attack on RMI’s analysis and reinforce the business community and fossil industry’s attack on renewable energy, including solar.

That is an egregious misrepresentation and journalist malpractice.

BTW, there are actually 2 solar caps in current NJ law, a financial cap and a technical cap.

Tittel has testified and been quoted in NJ Spotlight criticizing the financial cap. But there has been zero reporting or criticism of the even more important technical cap.

We have testified and written here about both. (and item #6 here).

The first is a cap on ratepayer increases (that is what Tom Johnson referred to). I think it is a 7% increase.

But there also is another cap on solar that involves how much solar is allowed to be connected to the grid – this is known as the “net metering cap”.

NJ laws erect restrictions on municipal and cooperative owned power systems and limits the size renewable energy systems and economic incentives known as “net metering”:

System size of renewable energy facility is limited to that needed to meet annual on-site electric demand. A.B. 3723 enacted in May 2018  authorizes Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to limit net metering to 5.1% of the total annual kWh sold in the State by each electric power supplier during prior one year period. The legislation instead of providing a firm aggregate limit on net metering, it authorizes the BPU to cease offering net metering if this capacity is reached.  BPU may continue to allow net metering even if this threshold is reached.

The limit on size to annual demand blocks expansion of renewables, restricts competition and protects the corporate utilities – as does net metering limit of just 5.1%.

No one is talking about this cap. As I wrote, over 5 years ago:

[Update: In another bill heard (see S2420 [1R]), solar advocates had to beg to request an increase of the current 2.5% cap on net metering to just 4% of commercial electric sales. Most NJ solar is from net metered projects. That groveling by the solar industry itself showed the absolute veto power the utilities have over real expansion of renewables. Current law allows the utilities to petition BPU to prohibit ANY ADDITIONAL RENEWABLES generating power to the grid that exceed the cap. Imagine that. Utilities have almost veto power over market entry to eliminate competition from even CHEAPER renewables. That is absurd. Yet NO ONE even questioned why utilities and BPU should have this power or why there should even be any cap. So called Ratepayer advocate had nothing to say about this anti-competitive costly monopoly abuse.

Until both caps are eliminated, NJ can not move forward on solar and renewable power. Period.

[Update: Despite being quoted in the NJ Spotlight story in the singular regarding a “cap” on solar, Tittel just sent me a quick note to clarify Sierra Clubs position:

There are 4 caps: 7 % cost , 5.1 gigawatts of total solar ,75 mw community solar and 2.5 net metering- we called lifting all caps .

Tom Johnson may have not only quoted Tittel out of context, but left out major points Tittel made.  ~~~ end update

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