Egolf’s half-truths and obfuscations

Rep. Brian Egolf is among the furthest left legislators in New Mexico. He is a strong supporter of subsidies for the film industry and one of the most outspoken opponents of the oil and gas industry. He wrote an opinion piece that appeared in the Albuquerque Journal over the weekend which cited some polling data that attempted to paper over some very real issues and controversies over “conservation” and environmental policies.

One of the RGF’s most active supporters, Jim Crawford, did a thorough analysis of Egolf’s piece and the questions asked in the poll. Rather than duplicating his work, I have posted it in its entirety below:

Representative Brian Egolf’s column  presented some questionable conclusions based on a poll (linked to here) by Colorado College.

Colorado College is a progressive liberal arts college which is enough to make the poll results questionable even before examining the poll itself.

Representative Egolf is correct. CONSERVATION is not a partisan divider.  Conservation is the wise use and/or management of our resources.  Conservation is a much different concept than the tree hugging anti-use EXTREME ENVIRONMENTALISM depicted in the illustration with the column.

Even the most conservative, pro-industry, cheap energy, drill baby drill advocates are conservationists.  None among us favor wanton or wasteful destruction of resources.  Hardly anyone opposes reasonable protections. The debate has never been about conservation versus jobs but about extreme environmentalism versus jobs.

As with most polls, the devil is in the details of how questions were asked.  In the Colorado College poll, the questions were nearly all phrased in a way than nearly all of us would answer the same way.  For example, who would not agree that “Our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are an essential part of New Mexico’s quality of life” (Q20)?

Then there are the questions like Q2 where the choices are an option that nearly everyone would agree with or one that almost nobody would agree with.  The choices were: “We can protect land and water and have a strong economy with good jobs at the same time, without having to choose one over the other. OR sometimes protections for land and water and a strong economy are in conflict and we must choose one over the other.”  We presently have strong protection for land and water, a strong economy along with good jobs. It has never been about choosing one or the other.  No wonder 80% of New Mexicans agreed with option 1.

Even more slanted are a series of questions where there are three categories of “serious problem” i.e. extremely serious, very serious, and somewhat serious.  The only other choice is “not a problem”.  Let’s face it.  There is no human use or activity that has no impact.  So again “not a problem” is not a likely option.  However, if we view the somewhat serious category as one where there may be some minor within reasonable limits, then those percentages combined with the not a problem group exceeds the combined extremely and very serious group.  A good example would be Q7 “The impact of oil and gas drilling on our land, air and water.”  In NM only 31% put this statement in the extremely or very serious category while 65% put it in the somewhat serious and not a problem categories.  New Mexicans are actually a lot less worried about these things than portrayed in Representative Egolf’s column.

Finally, Representative Egolf makes a big point about (QN2) where 71% of New Mexicans favored keeping our existing resource portfolio standards to force a certain percentage of renewable energy on our utility companies. Unfortunately, New Mexicans were never asked if they were willing to pay the $2.3 billion in increased electricity rates to achieve the standard.  The answer may have been different in that case.  There were no questions to test how much New Mexicans are willing to pay for utopian green quality of life statements.

We have all read the old adage about how figures lie and liars figure.  This poll was designed to arrive at a predetermined answer and does not deserve a lot of credibility. The most surprising thing about it is that the results were not more skewed than they are.