This posting documents passing thoughts about the framing of press release news-worthiness: a post about blog posting if you will. Worth reading, we think, because it gets at an approaching tipping point on energy conservation awareness. Our ruminations started when the Alliance to Save Energy contacted us to point out that "Average U.S. households will pay nearly $5,000 to power their homes and vehicles this year— 32 percent greater than just two years ago". This was by way of telling us that:- "To demonstrate the important connections between our individual energy decisions and the world's environment, economy and security, the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Gas Association (AGA), The Dow Chemical Company Inc., and 27 additional Power is in Your Hands partners have launched the 6Â° of Energy Efficiency Challenge".Seeing those names tripped the curiosity switch. Could this be one of those "astroturf" groups? Why would Dow Chemical Co. align with a statement like this one? "The Alliance to Save Energy and its partners want TreeHugger's readers to know there are plenty of simple steps they can take to lower home heating bills this winter, from adding weather-stripping "
Following the links provided with the Alliance's press release, we noted that some of the listed partners (see below) pardon our tentative stereotyping on this are the sort you'd more expect to hear on a cable news interview, supporting efforts to open more public lands for oil and gas drilling. And now they want to help ordinary people conserve energy? We noted that the Alliance's Partners List also includes the Green Building Council and NRDC. So much for the stereotype. What gives?
The Alliance's financial contributor list was fine. Looking further, we turned up a report published by a Think Tank not named here, 'cause we don't need to get into it right now which criticized an organization that had given the Alliance to Save Energy grants, alleging that that particular funding group had a 'radical environmentalist agenda.' So, that must be why the Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Alliance! We can see, now, that the whole country is turning into a nest of radical environmentalists: except of course for a few Think Tanks and TreeHugger readers (joking).
Seems there really is a "we're all in this together" virus going around; and, some of us may enjoy a re-branding as environmentally friendly, once receiving the contagion. This is good. But why now; and what brings about such an alliance?
One obvious driver would be the desire to sell more insulating foam and such. A look at the partner list explains where many of the economic interests lie.
Less visibly, energy intensive businesses are stressed by oil and gas price volatility. At some point it is just good business to promote domestic conservation, reducing collective fuel/feedstock demand pressures on both industry and consumers. By analogy: - suppose a community is running out of potable water. In crisis, the choice is either to cut back on water supplied to industries, or to shut off the water to people's homes for several hours a day. You know who wins that one. Saving water in advance helps the public and the private sector.
Suppose that, nationally, fuel prices become volatile, and serious shortages loom. The long-term choices are to cut back supplies to petroleum or gas intensive industries, see profit margins eroded, give price support to homeowners, or to let those on low income go without fuel. Under this hypothetical scenario, supporting a consumption or supply-side point of view only would eventually create a populist backlash. Conservation would be the perfect compromise.
The Alliance seems to be what it says it is: an "all together now" effort that could help to dampen the political tensions of recent years. Just the sort of Alliance the world needs more of. And our scenario is, of course, much more real than hypothetical.
Partners of the Alliance to Save Energy include:
• American Chemistry Council
• American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
• American Gas Association
• American Petroleum Institute
• Association of Energy and Environmental Real Estate Professionals
• Association of State Energy Research & Technology Transfer Institute
• Bank of America
• Business Roundtable
• The Dow Chemical Company
• Duke Energy
• Edison Electric Institute
• Gainesville Regional Utilities
• Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
• Home Energy Tune-uP
• Interstate Natural Gas Association of America
• Knauf Insulation
• National Association for State Community Services Programs
• National Association of Manufacturers
• National Association of State Energy Officials
• Niagara Conservation
• National Fuel Funds Network
• Natural Resources Defense Council
• New York State Energy Research & Development Authority
• OSRAM Sylvania
• Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Corporation
• U.S. Chamber of Commerce
• U.S. Department of Energy
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
• U.S. Green Building Council
It'd be nice to see what the individual Alliance Partners are doing to save energy and how effective those programs have been and are projected to be. Who knows, if the US Chamber of Commerce moves into a LEED Platinum HQ, maybe TreeHugger will be tempted to join?