Hmm... Consumer Energy Alliance.... where have we heard that name before? I know! The Consumer Energy Alliance was behind the "EDJ Alliance" that was used in a lame attempt to drum up support for Clean Line's Plains and Eastern project in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee last year. Since then, it has been suspiciously quiet... almost like it is dead itself. And the Consumer Energy Alliance also pretended to speak in favor of Clean Line's Rock Island project at an Illinois Commerce Commission public hearing in 2013. Clean Line is a "member" of the Consumer Energy Alliance, although it (along with all the other "members") aren't "consumers" at all. The CEA represents "consumers" in name only, while it really represents the interests of its paying industry members. That's what's called a "front group."
A front group is an organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other party or interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned.
...immediately convene an independent audit of all public comment statements submitted to docket of Case No. CP16-22 since the opening of the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement; that the Commission strike Intervenors’ Exhibits A through O from the docket and grant leave to any intervenors to this proceeding to submit
further pleadings relating to striking other public comment statements from the docket; finally, that the Commission make a referral to its Division of Investigations, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Inspector-General, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector-General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The CEA answered the opposition complaint, requesting "... that the Commission decline to address Neighbors’ protest (the “Protest”) as its contentions are false and have no merit." CEA goes on to claim that it has records to prove that the authors of the letters gave permission to CEA to create and mail the letters to FERC. The authors claim otherwise in numerous affidavits. In one instance, the author has been dead since 1998. In another, a relative of an author claims she could not give permission because she has dementia. Another author interviewed by Newsnet5 said, "I’ve never said none of those words. I don’t have a typewriter, I don’t have a computer to make a letter as such.”
Here's how CEA explained this "misunderstanding."
As an energy consumer advocacy organization, CEA has developed a process of gathering grassroots support for affordable, reliable energy projects. As part of that widely accepted business process, CEA conducts automated telephone surveys with selected individuals. When an automated call is placed, and consistent with accepted industry practice, the call is directed to the individual listed in phone company records. The individual who participates in the survey is asked a series of questions from a scripted questionnaire to which he or she is requested to answer by pressing on the phone’s keyboard “1” for “yes” and “2” for “no”. But, it is the nature of automated surveys that the questions are not asked by a live person and there is no process to identify and confirm who answers the phone and responds to the question.
The survey used here began with an introductory statement telling the respondent that the Commission is considering whether or not to grant a permit to build the NEXUS pipeline and explaining the benefits of the pipeline, including creation of jobs in the region and reduction of energy costs for manufacturers and consumers. The survey continued with the express question on whether or not the respondent would give his or her permission to relay to the Commission his support for the pipeline. If the respondent replied with “no”, the survey would ask another question reiterating the importance of the Project and again ask the respondent if he or she would support the pipeline and authorize CEA to pass that view on to the Commission. On behalf of those respondents who indicated their support for the project and authorized CEA to forward that viewpoint to the Commission, CEA then generated the letter for the 347 individuals that were filed.
Moreover, it is implicit in the nature of any automated phone survey that from time to time there will be instances where the person who answers the phone and responds to the survey is not the person listed in the telephone company’s records as the householder. This would explain the inadvertent error that can occur when a supporting letter is generated in the name of the person listed as householder, but someone else actually answers the phone. So, even though the householder – in whose name the support letter was generated – may not be competent or even in agreement, the person who answered did respond affirmatively and authorize support for the Project. Similarly, in some instances the respondent may not fully understand the presented question, unintentionally answer it in the wrong way and later change his or her mind. Or, in some cases, the respondent may forget that the survey even took place, let alone that he or she gave the authorization for his comments to be filed with the Commission. CEA regrets any such misunderstanding or miscommunication that may have occurred.
I guess we can assume that the other 24,653 people contacted by the CEA did NOT support the pipeline, although CEA didn't bother generating a letter from those consumers expressing their opposition to the project.
CEA doesn't represent consumers. CEA represents its paying industry members. One of those members is Clean Line Energy Partners.
So, if you're a live person in relatively good health, you'd better get your comments opposing the various Clean Line projects filed with regulators now. Otherwise, the CEA may submit comments supporting Clean Line to regulators using your name.
What a bunch of dirty, cheating tricksters!