On December 8, 2010, following the failure to extend subsidies for renewables (and before they found another way to subsidize profits), I wrote the following to “my” Senator Jay Rockefeller (WV):
To Senator Rockefeller
I am extremely disappointed to find you supported the amendment to extend funding to renewable energy.
In the best of economic times it makes no sense to invest taxpayer money in energy sources which are unreliable, costly and cannot provide electricity on-demand.
Happily, the amendment failed.
Please reassess your position on this failed technology and do not support further funding of industrial wind and solar.
Vote no on any further funding for these inefficient, costly and failed technologies. They cannot exist without subsidies and our money is better spent on energy sources which will provide reliable and secure power sources to drive manufacturing and create real jobs.
Thank you for your consideration,
Michael C. Morgan
Yesterday, this email arrived:
Thank you for contacting me regarding tax credits for renewable energy programs. I always enjoy hearing from a fellow West Virginian and I welcome the opportunity to be in touch.
On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in law. Section 1603 of this legislation’s tax title appropriated funds for payments to persons who place in service specified renewable energy property such as wind turbines, biomass facilities, and solar systems during 2009 or 2010. Participants are eligible to receive payments equal to 10% or 30% of the basis of the property, depending on the type of property. This program was designed to temporarily fill the gap created by diminished investor demand for energy tax credits.
Energy tax credits are a win-win for jobs, the economy and our energy policy. Most recently, the Senate passed H.R. 4213, The Tax Extenders Act of 2009 which includes an amendment that I introduced that links the 2010 Energy Star standards to the Windows Tax Credit Program including significant tax credits for energy efficiency home retrofitting and improvements. This legislation will not only increase demand for energy efficient products and help consumer but it will also create and retain jobs at energy-efficient producers like Simonton Window, which employs over 1,500 West Virginians.
I will continue to fight for energy efficient programs and tax credits that benefit consumers and manufactures in West Virginia. During these tough economic times any incentive that will stimulate jobs and aid in the economic recovery while increasing our energy independence is beneficial.
As always, I wish you the best.
With Warm Regards,
What the …???
One would think the Senator would at least pretend to read my mail. I know he can’t personally read or respond to every constituent letter, but at least he could instruct his staff to make up two replies. They could have the one above for folks who agree and another to send to folks who don’t. After all, it’s fairly easy to fool us (as if the Senator didn’t know that already) so they could just add one line like, “Sorry to see we don’t agree” to the beginning of the boilerplate reply and heck, we’ll think someone at least glanced at the content beyond the subject line. C’mon, how hard can it be?
But after reading the Senator’s reply, and unless someone can explain how it connects to my original note, I can only come up with three options:
A: The Senator is too lazy to read my letter
B: The Senator suffers from a case of confirmation bias
or, of course,
C: Both A and B
If this were the first time I received a totally disjointed response from Senator Rockefeller, I might have written it off. Unfortunately, on two other occasions when I wrote in disagreement with his position on issues, I received very similar canned replies. Surprisingly, or maybe not, other folks told me of their similar experiences.
Based on this, I chose C. I’m convinced that my Senator doesn’t give enough of a damn what I think to take the time to read my comment. And, for future reference, I have to realize that, unless what I say coincidentally fits his already-formed position on the issue, I should expect his reply to be equally patronizing.
But then, if the Senator does (as seems evident to me) have this “confirmation bias” thing going on, I perhaps shouldn’t be too critical. After all, I voted to send this man back to the Senate! And what is the definition of crazy? Yep … doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
But folks, I’m up for the cure. Senator Rockefeller’s current term expires in 2014. If the Democratic Party is foolish enough to nominate him again, I’ll vote against him in the general. I might still be considered crazy, but it won’t be for voting to send this man back to DC.
Finally, you might have noticed the Senator’s comment in the opening paragraph, “I always enjoy hearing from a fellow West Virginian and I welcome the opportunity to be in touch;” to which I find myself saying, all evidence to the contrary, Senator!
“Participants are eligible to receive payments equal to 10% or 30% of the basis of the property, depending on the type of property. “
What does that mean in terms of US Wind Force, LLC and the Pinnacle Project? US Wind Force, LLC indicates that their project costs are $131,000,000. For Big Wind (US Wind Farce) and Edison Mission Energy it’s tax free grant package worth $39,300,000 dollars because “this program was designed to fill the gap created by the diminished investor demand for energy tax credits.”
The way I look at it, anyone that will view the Pinnacle Project should be seeking a 30% tax relief on their property. The value of their property has just been destroyed for the next 20 years until decommission takes place.
Senator Rockefeller, I am not against building energy efficient windows or keeping 1,500 workers employed. America needs their work and their products.
I am against allowing Big Wind to lobby for tax dollars, receiving these dollars to destroy my community. I am against destroying an ecological, historical and cultural significant landscape. Big Industrial Wind is not about foreign oil.
Giving Big Industrial Wind $39 million dollars from taxpayers is wasteful. It would be far more efficient to give West Virginia homeowners $39 million dollars to make their home and business more energy efficient, including buying new windows. An energy efficient home uses less electrical power. Stop supporting private Big Wind projects.
Big Industrial Wind Turbines are not reliable. They remain dependent on the wind to blow. At best, this 420 foot tall turbines are only 30% efficient.
Thirty-Nine ($39,000,000) million dollars could go a long way to ‘buttoning up’ many West Virginian homes, making them more energy efficient. Giving away tax dollars to support Big Industrial Wind is not protecting West Virginia.
Allegheny Treasures Note: One of the individuals mentioned in the post, who received a similar response from Senator Rockefeller to another matter, sent this:
“To think that this Senator came to WV as a VISTA volunteer in th 1960’s on a mission to empower and help those who had no voice in the system–yet now, as our very own Senator, he turns a deaf ear to the common folks who decide to speak up against the vast political forces who make decisions that greatly affect our lives with complete disregard for any reason or data that may not agree with his “party line.”
Politicians who reach this lofty and aloof plateau where the voices of his “flock” engender so little regard or respect have reached the point where they can no longer serve as a “representative voice of the people.” Our Declaration of Independence clearly spoke to the abuses of a leader who usurped the efforts of our ancestors to influence or affect the manner in which they were represented and governed.
Senator Rockefeller would be well served to read that document and consider the callous disregard of his actions as an elected representative of ALL West Virginians. If he or his staff cannot spend the effort to understand and respond appropriately to the citizens who take their free time to comment on the decisions he is paid to make on our behalf, then perhaps he or they deserve to be added to the unemployment line.
There can be no democracy when the elected representatives of the people fail to listen to their voices. It shouldn’t matter if one is a Democrat or Republican. There is simply, and there can be no rational excuse for any elected official to marginalize, disregard, and disrespect the voices of his/her constituents.”