McConnell Gets It Wrong—Again—in Clean Power Plan Court Filing

February 24, 2016 | 11:14 am
John Rogers
Energy Campaign Analytic Lead

In a legal brief filed yesterday with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and friends repeated some spurious cost claims about the Clean Power Plan from a debunked American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity/NERA Economic Consulting report. Now it’s time to set the record straight… again.

The spurious claims about the Clean Power Plan (CPP) come from the ACCCE/NERA report we debunked back in November based on their lack of transparency and their likely flawed inputs. And they’ve popped up in an important venue—an amicus brief (see pages 23-24) filed before the D.C. Court of Appeals by Leader McConnell and other members of Congress who oppose the CPP.


A previously debunked report is being used to support a legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan.

You have to do a bit of detective work to connect the dots, but it turns out that Leader McConnell and friends used a House report from November as the source of the CPP cost estimates they mention in the amicus brief. What they fail to mention, though, is that the cost estimates in the House report come from the misleading ACCCE/NERA study—and that the “dissenting views” section of the same House report debunks the ACCCE/NERA study based on several of the criteria I mentioned in November, namely:

The majority’s report also relies heavily on a recent NERA analysis that is flawed in a number of key aspects For one, it does not take into account any of the benefits of the Clean Power Plan. Also, as described more fully elsewhere, the NERA analysis ignores recent studies that show real world investments in energy efficiency programs generate net savings for consumers—efficiency shows up in the NERA study as a net cost—and the NERA analysis significantly overestimates the costs for renewables like wind and solar.

These Congressional leaders should know better than to trust such flawed sources. After all, the Washington Post Fact Checker has flagged similar cost claims by ACCCE as “misleading.”

And, evidently, ACCCE’s own members aren’t buying the disinformation the group is peddling. At least two dozen members have quit ACCCE since 2008, including fossil fuel and utility interests BHP Billiton, Consol Energy, Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison, Duke Energy, and First Energy. American Electric Power also slashed its funding for ACCCE from 2014 to 2015, and will hopefully join the utility exodus this year.

So it’s dismaying—and wrong—to see this study rear its head again. If Leader McConnell and colleagues are going to weigh in on something as important as the CPP, they’d do well to make sure they’ve got their facts straight first.

Posted in: Energy

Tags: The Clean Power Plan

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John Rogers is energy campaign analytic lead at the Union of Concerned Scientists with expertise in clean energy technologies and policies and a focus on solar, wind, and natural gas. He co-managed the UCS-led Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative, a multi-year program aimed at raising awareness of the energy-water connection, particularly in the context of climate change, and motivating and informing effective low-carbon and low-water energy solutions.