Earlier this week, Quin Hillyer published an opinion article titled “Obama carbon rule would choke Louisiana.” The basis for Hillyer’s argument is a joint report with the Beacon Hill Institute and the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy.
Recently revealed documents by The Guardian show that a lobbyist named Richard Berman funded the Beacon Hill Institute report. In fact, Berman paid the Beacon Hill Institute to author at least 16 of these reports, with Louisiana being one of the states. And they are all saying the same thing: The power plant rule will cause rolling blackouts, increases in electricity prices and job losses.
Funding aside for a moment, policymakers and regulators should not consider the Beacon Hill Institute report to be a credible source when determining how to respond to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
Their economic model, STAMP, which has been used to assess the impact of the EPA Clean Power Plan and other policies aiming to reduce climate pollution, has been roundly criticized. The Beacon Hill Institute’s economic analysis of the EPA Clean Power Plan inflates the cost of the new rules for existing power plants by a factor of two and minimizes the regulation’s benefits by nearly 10 times when compared with the EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis.
In addition to producing flawed economic research, Beacon Hill Institute’s internal documents show that the organization sought to manipulate economic research by producing reports that came to conclusions before performing any research.
Suffolk University even went so far to criticize Beacon Hill for the grant language, saying, “the stated research goals, as written, were inconsistent with Suffolk University’s mission” and the institute “had not followed university rules when it submitted its grant proposal.”
Beacon Hill Institute’s anti-clean energy and climate stances should not be a surprise, as the organization has received funding from foundations and organizations associated with the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests. The Charles G. Koch Foundation has donated over $750,000 to Suffolk University since 2008, with much of the funding going to Beacon Hill. Charles and David Koch’s financial positions could be negatively impacted by the EPA’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
Given Beacon Hill Institute’s record and the history of coordinated attacks, the question for policymakers is: Are you going to rely on biased economic research from fossil fuel-backed organizations to attack climate and energy policies?
We think the answer should be a decisive “no.”
director, Energy and Policy Institute
director of research, Center for Media and Democracy