Biofuel-Industry's Manipulative “Survey” Can Only Generate Biased Results

The other night, I got a call from a survey company asking me questions about my views on various candidates for Massachusetts Governor, and then about various energy alternatives, and then the obvious real purpose: questions about my views on the large-scale wood-burning biomass projects proposed around the state (including three locations fairly close to me: Russell, Greenfield, and even densely populated Springfield), and a proposed bill to count only solar, wind and hydro as Green projects, excluding nukes and biofuels.

I think this gets an “award” for the most biased survey I’ve ever taken. First, the questioner determined that I was strongly opposed to the biomass plants—which are very bad on carbon footprint, not only from the burning of wood but also the massive deforestation and the huge amount of truck traffic they will generate. Wood is, indeed, a renewable resource. But it sure isn’t a clean one!

Then he asked questions like

  • Would it change your vote if you knew that although the Sierra Club and [I think] the Massachusetts Medical Society support the bill, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and AFL-CIO oppose this bill? [Very clever of them to throw in the environmental groups on the other side; my suspicions were not yet aroused. Later, I Googled and could find no such endorsement from UCS, although their research is cited by another group, here]
  • Would it change your vote if you knew that wood-biofuel plants are carbon neutral? [absolutely NOT true!]
  • Would it change your vote if you knew that Massachusetts has more forested land now than it did 100 years ago?
  • After these three biased questions that were clearly tilted toward counting me as an opponent of the bill, I stopped the guy and said I thought this was a survey, and not a blatant attempt to feed misinformation to me in an attempt to change my opinion. He said, “hey, I’m just reading the questions!” I said I understood that, but I didn’t appreciate being manipulated like this, and I ended the interview. My caller ID told me he had a 609 area code (New Jersey), incidentally.

    I am totally sure this so-called survey will be used to trumpet the citizens of Massachusetts’ supposed stance in favor of biofuels and against the proposed law. While the law’s definitions could be sharpened, I actually feel that eliminating nuclear power and large-scale wood-burning biomass plants from being counted in the progress toward a Green economy is a GOOD thing. And I’ll be directing my friends who are active in the anti-biofuel campaigns to this blog, so they can see exactly what their opponents are up to—sleazy and easily discredited “surveys” like this.

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