Lies My Newspaper Told Me

This morning's Foster's Sunday Citizen brings sad news indeed. The page A5 headline:

N.H. lags in energy efficiency, report says
Oh noes! What's the problem? First paragraph:
Not only is New Hampshire the least energy-efficient state in New England, its energy efficiency dropped the most nationally from last year, according to a recently released report that […]
[…] ranks states' energy efficiency policies.
Oh. Never mind.

(The article doesn't show at Foster's website but it's a copy of this article from the New Hampshire Business Review.)

If you're beginning to suspect that you've been suckered, the next paragraph will change that suspicion into certainty:

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., released the 2010 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks states based on factors such as state government initiatives, appliance efficiency standards, utility and public benefits programs and policies and building energy codes and transportation policies.
So: when they claim to be ranking "energy efficiency", they're not actually doing anything old-fashioned like… you know… measuring energy efficiency. No, they're much more post-modern about it: they're nose-counting "initiatives", "standards", "programs", "codes", and "policies" cooked up by various levels of state and local bureaucracies. (Each and every one well-funded by taxpayers.) If you have those, it doesn't really matter whether you're gratuitously wasting energy or not.

As stated, the original report is from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The introductory sentence demonstrates their policy druthers: "Even as Congress failed to take major action on climate and energy legislation in 2010, …" I. e., they're very, very disappointed about that cap-and-trade thing going down in CO2-producing flames.

If you want to really know where New Hampshire (or your state) ranks in terms of energy consumption, I suggest this page from the DOE. Answer for NH, in 2008: 235.5 Million BTU per capita. That's 7th from the bottom, which (frankly) is not too shabby considering how consarn cold it gets up here sometimes. (Try warming yourself with something other than a British Thermal Unit, friend.)

Could it be that—gasp!—some people can actually manage to economize energy usage on their own, without relying on various nudges, nags, subsidies, and penalties from federal, state, and local energy nannies?

Sure. But that sort of measure simply doesn't matter to those of a certain statist social-engineering bent, like those running "American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy". It just ain't on their radar, which only picks up "efficiency" when some politician or bureaucrat can take responsibility for it. I only wish that the NHBR and Foster's were even slightly skeptical about it.

Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:17 PM EST