Chuck Green column in Chieftain misleadingly attacked Gore's energy usage
Research ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
In a column that appeared in The Pueblo Chieftain on February 28, Chuck Green misleadingly called former Vice President Al Gore an "energy hog" and "energy hypocrite," based on a think tank's analysis of Gore's power bills. Green ignored media reports about Gore's "carbon-neutral lifestyle" and failed to mention that the think tank is a conservative, "free market" group.
In a column criticizing former Vice President Al Gore, Chuck Green cited a conservative think tank's analysis of Gore's power bills in misleadingly calling Gore "an energy hog." Despite acknowledging that the Gore "family is taking steps to reduce its power usage and is investing in 'green power,' " Green's column -- which appeared in the February 28 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain -- ignored widespread reporting that Gore balances "100 percent of his electricity costs" with renewable energy purchases and that Gore's investments permit the family to lead a "carbon-neutral lifestyle," as noted in an Associated Press article updated February 28.
Green stated that the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR) compiled energy records "over the past two years [on] the Gore family mansion in Nashville." According to Green, the TCPR said the Gore family "used about $1,000 worth of natural gas each month and about $1,200 worth of electricity each month."
Calling Gore an "energy hypocrite" and an "energy hog," Green further stated, "A spokesman for Gore, who didn't dispute the figures compiled by the Tennessee Center, said the family is taking steps to reduce its power usage and is investing in 'green power.' " Green also said that, according to Gore's spokeswoman, "[T]he Gore family has begun switching light bulbs at the estate to fluorescents," is "spending about $400 a month on" renewable energy, and is "renovating their home to add solar panels."
However, the February 28 AP article by Kristin M. Hall noted, while Green did not, that Gore's energy use practices are considered "carbon-neutral" and that Gore balances "100 percent of his electricity costs" by purchasing renewable energy sources. The AP reported:
Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said: "Sometimes when people don't like the message, in this case that global warming is real, it's convenient to attack the messenger.'"
Kreider said Gore purchases enough energy from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas to balance 100 percent of his electricity costs.
Gore, who owns homes in Carthage, Tenn., and in the Washington area, has said he leads a "carbon-neutral lifestyle." To balance out other carbon emissions, the Gores invest money in projects to reduce energy consumption, Kreider said.
Similarly, a February 27 article in The Tennessean reported that "Gore's power bill shows" his personal energy use reflects a personal dedication to reducing the human emissions that contribute to global warming:
"As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk (the) walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, identified as a free-market think tank.
Gore's power bill shows, however, that the former vice president may be doing just that.
The Tennessean noted that Gore has been purchasing "blocks of 'green power,' " which, over the last three months, were "equivalent to recycling 2.48 million aluminum cans or 286,092 pounds of newspaper, according to comparison figures on NES' [Nashville Electric Service] Web site." Noting that the Gore family also does the "carbon emissions offset," the article explained:
That means figuring out how much carbon is emitted from home power use, and vehicle and plane travel, then paying for projects that will offset that with use of renewable energy, such as solar power.
Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe, she [Kalee Kreider] said.
In his column, Green said, "Gore isn't the only energy hypocrite in the environmental movement," and further stated that "[d]uring the Academy Awards ceremony Monday [sic] night" celebrities "arriv[ed] in gas-guzzling stretch limos ... while encouraging Americans to drive hybrid cars." However, Green failed to note, as the Tennessean article did, that Gore's car is a "Lexis [sic] hybrid SUV."
Moreover, Green failed to identify TCPR as a so-called "free market" policy group that "promotes personal freedom and limited government," according to its website. In contrast, several other media outlets have noted TCPR's conservative philosophy. ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper called the group "an obscure conservative think tank." The New York Times on February 28 also identified TCPR as "an obscure conservative group in Tennessee." And a February 27 report by MSNBC host Keith Olbermann identified TCPR's president, Drew Johnson, as "hailing from the same American Enterprise Institute that takes money from big oil, cheerleads the war in Iraq, and consistently -- and now to pretty consistent laughter -- downplays global warming."
From Chuck Green's column, "Greenie Gore is himself an energy hog," published in the February 28 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain:
Al Gore's head had barely hit the pillow Tuesday morning after the former vice president won an Academy Award when the Internet spread news of energy use at his 10,000-square-foot family home in Tennessee.
The "green" politician, whose Oscar was presented for his documentary film on global warming and environmental responsibility, is an energy hog.
According to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, over the past two years the Gore family mansion in Nashville used about $1,000 worth of natural gas each month and about $1,200 worth of electricity each month -- 20 times the national average.
The Gore property, which includes a 20-room, eight-bathroom main house and a guest house and swimming pool, is a power-consumption sponge, according to the family's energy bills.
A spokesman for Gore, who didn't dispute the figures compiled by the Tennessee Center, said the family is taking steps to reduce its power usage and is investing in "green power." But despite those efforts, the family's electric bill actually increased after the release of his documentary film, which encourages Americans to reduce their energy consumption.
What is startling is that those bills don't even begin to account for all of the family's energy use -- the power they consume during extensive travel, from private airplanes and limousines to resort homes and hotel energy use and other consumption.
Gore isn't the only energy hypocrite in the environmental movement.
During the Academy Awards ceremony Monday night, the show was heralded for being the first "green" awards program in Oscar history. But that didn't prevent stars from arriving in gas-guzzling stretch limos, flying to California from around the world in private jets and burning hundreds of power-hungry spotlights and stage lights during the show -- while encouraging Americans to drive hybrid cars and to use low-wattage compact fluorescent bulbs in their lives.
Gore's spokesman responded to the Tennessee Center's revelations by saying that the Gore family has begun switching light bulbs at the estate to fluorescents, and they have begun spending about $400 a month on power generated by alternate means -- solar and other renewable sources.
The family also is renovating their home to add solar panels -- a laudable effort, but something that few Americans can afford. A friend of mine recently estimated it would cost $45,000 to retrofit his Colorado home for solar energy, and his isn't nearly the size of the Gore compound.