VIDEO: How Fox Slants The Energy Debate

Blog ››› ››› JILL FITZSIMMONS

In the David vs. Goliath competition between emerging clean energy technologies and heavily subsidized, politically powerful fossil fuel industries, Fox has come down firmly on the side of Goliath. Time and time again, Fox has pushed the narrative that clean energy doesn't work, and that fossil fuels are America's only viable energy option:

By contrast, 77% of Americans believe that "the U.S. needs to be a clean energy technology leader and it should invest in the research and domestic manufacturing of wind, solar, and energy efficiency technologies," according to a recent poll by the nonpartisan Civil Society Institute.

The clean energy sector is small but growing rapidly, according to a study by the Brookings Institution, which found that U.S. renewable energy jobs grew at an average annual rate of 11.1 percent between 2003 and 2010. By comparison, the overall economy grew by 4.2 percent annually.

But clean energy faces significant barriers, as market failures hinder the deployment of potentially breakthrough technologies and dirty fuels face little accountability for the cost of pollution.

A 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that the "hidden costs" of energy produced by burning fossil fuels, including the impact on public health, amount to $120 billion per year. If these costs were factored in to the cost of energy, coal-fired electricity would cost an additional 3.2 cents per kWh and gasoline would cost .30-.40 cents more per gallon. These numbers would be even greater if they included the impact of climate change, and other environmental consequences of pollution.

Nevertheless, fossil fuel interests protest any new pollution limits - even those that are long overdue and widely considered achievable. And Fox has been a consistent ally in this effort, routinely spreading fear and misinformation about the impact of clean air rules on energy costs and electric reliability.

Fox also perpetuates the false narrative that the Obama administration has stifled domestic oil production. In reality, the number of crude oil rigs in currently in operation is the highest on record. U.S. oil production has risen during each year of the Obama administration, despite the massive Gulf oil spill, and the Energy Information Administration projects that it will continue to increase in 2012. And the hydraulic fracturing techniques that led to the natural gas boom have yet to come under meaningful federal oversight.

The Brookings report stated that China has successfully deployed clean energy technologies because the country has articulated "a comprehensive and long-term state clean energy build out policy that sends clear signals to investors."

A Deutsche Bank report also stresses the importance of a clear policy framework, contrasting countries like Germany and China, which have built "transparency, longevity and certainty" into their policy strategies, with the United States, which exhibits "climate policy inertia" resulting in "a patchwork of inconsistent state policies." The report states: "The net effect is that while Congress stumbles, the US stands to fall behind."

Fox's promotion of political polarization over a formerly bipartisan issue only diminishes America's chances of creating what Bill Gates and other top CEO's called "a clean energy innovation program commensurate with the scale of national priorities that are at stake."

Posted In
Environment & Science, Energy
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Fox Business
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