Since beginning this series of reports on the deceptions being used by the Republican candidate for Bob Casey, Jr.’s Senate seat from Pennsylvania, when he closed Casey’s double digit lead to within striking distance of the Democratic incumbent, the polls now show the candidates to be in a statistical dead heat. Clearly, the message is not getting the attention it needs among undecided voters, and the Republican money machine now perceives Smith a viable challenger to help the Republicans wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats.
As reported in parts one and two of this series, Smith, has no real vision for reforming health care or Social Security and Medicare. His position on energy does not deviate from his pattern on those issues—a pattern of what can only be characterized as unsubstantiated rhetorical argument liberally laden with deliberate deceptions.
Something about the Issues page of his Web site does stand out though when a reader checks his statements against the sources he claims to have used in support of them. One is a debatable half truth, another does not exist, Yet another does not actually support his statements, and another is a debunked deliberate deception.
The more cautionary observation is however that his policy statements revolve around the myth of energy independence being critical to our national welfare, when GOP policy on the issue in fact threatens to make us dependent on foreign oil. Smith’s opening statement, “A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report determined the U.S. has more fossil energy reserves than any other nation in the world,” in support of this proposition is a misrepresentation of the study he cites [PDF] in support of his claim—and can only be taken as emblematic of his lack of understanding of basic mathematics, or as a gross deception.
He went on to claim that the US is “number one, with 17 percent of total world reserves.” The study,”U.S. Fossil Fuel Resources: Terminology, Reporting, and Summary, a November 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service, estimated the total (proven reserves plus undiscovered estimated reserves) domestic reserves at 164.6 billion barrels—barely more than 12 percent of the world’s proven reserves, and 62.7 percent as much as Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves. Canada, which had 175.2 billion barrels in proven reserves, slightly more that the estimated total for the US, is graphically illustrated in a BP report from 2011—and shown to be a fraction of the reserves in the Middle East.
The truth of his motivations lies buried within Smith’s statement, “Unfortunately, many energy-rich areas within the U.S. are currently off-limits to energy exploration because of government restrictions.” He would unlock the gates on public lands for unrestricted rape of the land. He even names the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR), and goes on to say that the “attitude of the regulator should be how we can foster domestic energy production in an environmentally sound fashion.” In truth, saying so does not make it happen—and many of the very regulations restricting the full-throttle exploitation he seeks are the very regulations for which he calls!
His position is not simple hypocrisy. Throughout, Smith’s hot-button rhetoric actually does more to jeopardize the estimated 41,500 jobs in Pennsylvania supported by the coal industry—by making no mention of the need to diversify and transition into sustainable economic pursuits to replace the jobs that will be lost to the inexorable transition to renewable energy.
His assault on environmental concerns centered on fracking, the high pressure injection of chemical laden water into underground shale formations to release the methane gas trapped within them, also threaten the water supply on which millions of Pennsylvanians rely. Saying, “Proposed legislation, like the FRAC Act dealing with fracturing Marcellus wells, threatens the growth of this industry and should be left to the states,” ignores the fact that the proposed legislation would require energy companies to reveal the chemicals used in fracturing—which is the only way to positively determine whether the chemicals are seeping into the water table!
But Smith’s deception also ignores the fact that Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature has done nothing meaningful to regulate the industry, and even had to be estopped from exceeding it’s authority to override local ordinances that sought to regulate fracking within their jurisdictions. His lip-service to fostering “domestic energy production in an environmentally sound fashion” does not end there. He then goes on to say, “Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulations and new ozone rules have put so much financial pressure on the power generation industry in Pennsylvania that they have found it more cost effective to idle plants rather than go through expensive upgrades.”
Smith also ignores the fact that these “clean coal” regulations have been implemented in only two power plants in the entire nation—and these two plants have found that the regulation is not prohibitive, albeit they may cut into the profit margin. But his disregard for environmental concerns does not end there.
He wraps up with a call to go ahead with the Keystone XL Pipeline, a boondoggle that not only threatens one of the largest aquifers in the country, but fails to produce the jobs he promises. He in fact uses the entirely debunked claims made by TransCanada—the company that owns the pipeline—to justify his position. The truth is that it is difficult to estimate how many of the mere 5,000 temporary jobs created will go to US citizens and how many will go to Canadians, but the fact that the few hundred new jobs that the project may create clearly indicate that the only benefit to the project will accrue to it’s owners.