ENVT 200 03

Fake News in SC…but really this time it’s fake

As we have all (unfortunately) witnessed the current president has coined the term “fake news” as one of his many catch phrases. However, my friends and I have started to use it in conversation when actually talking about fraudulent things that occur or lies that we hear. For this reason I chose to use this as my title to hopefully act as click bait. Did it draw any of your attention?

The “fake news” I would like to discuss with this post refers to fake emails being sent to SC legislatures that make it appear as if their constituents are in support of the company Dominion buying SCANA Corp. and opposed to the proposed laws that would not allow this to happen. SCE&G is a subsidiary of the SCANA Corp. and they were very invested in the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station that will no longer be used. The failure of this company is costing upwards of nine million dollars and SC legislatures are proposing laws that would ensure ratepayers are not responsible for covering this loss. I learned last week that from around 2006 to 2016 the average SCE&G costumer had an average of $20 a month added to their SCE&G bill to cover the cost of the nuclear site that will not be completed. Customers were not made aware of this charge and as of now are not going to be reimbursed. Based on this, many citizens and legislatures alike are very upset by the actions of SCE&G, SCANA Corp., and their fellow investors and are therefore creating laws to prevent things like this from happening in SC ever again. However, not all individuals are in support of these laws and therefore emails presenting their side of the story have been flowing into the offices of SC legislatures.

The authors of this news article, Jamie Lovegrove and Thad Moore do not appear to be biased in this article. Their audience appears to be all constituents of South Carolina and their agenda seems to be to update constituents on individuals that may be impersonating them. The authors discuss the sequence of events and present all sides of the issue by asking for comments from legislatures, impersonated individuals, and the companies being discussed. Some of the emails were found to be fraudulent because a few of the individuals listed as the senders happened to be friends of the legislatures that they knew either did not live in SC, would never share these views, or had a different email address all together. The words within the email were found to be copy and pasted from a form email prepared by the Consumer Energy Alliance that does in fact support Dominion buying SCANA Corp. The president of the Consumer Energy Alliance, representatives from Dominion, and representatives from SCANA Corp. stated that they had no idea who was sending the fraudulent emails. They also agreed to work with local authorities to track down the individual or group that was responsible for this.

To me, this sounds like South Carolina’s own mini version of the Russia sandal, but the irony of this is not why I selected this current news story to discuss. I selected this because on one of the first days of class we all discussed a news headline that stated, “SCE&G customers would still pay $2.2 billion for failed nuclear…” At the time none of us knew much about this headline and we had a lot of questions. I hope that my above explanation has helped clear up the confusion. I would also like to share my updated ideas of how this is an interdisciplinary issue specifically related to environmental studies now that I have learned more about the situation. This is an environmental issue for several reasons. Some of these include preferred energy sources that are not sustainable and destruction of natural habitats for industrial use. This is also a social issue because the companies were charging costumers without their knowledge and plan to still put an economic burden on individuals who are not responsible for the failure. This is also an economic issue because, as I have now learned, the companies have been taking money from customers for several years and plan to continue to do so if these new laws are not put into place. As we have learned in the current section of our curriculum the current processes of our economy do not permit a sustainable future. The failure of this plant is a good example of neoclassical economics that view the environment as a subset and show how far away our economy is from using ecological economics that focus on the triple bottom line.

Link to article: https://www.postandcourier.com/politics/south-carolina-lawmakers-getting-pro-sce-g-emails-impersonating-constituents/article_f47cff0a-14db-11e8-b2a0-b7747aca35bd.html

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One thought on “Fake News in SC…but really this time it’s fake

  1. schultzjt

    Awesome post. This is really relevant with what has gone on the past couple of days on twitter as well with the twitter lockout, which removed Russian bots from the website. I really liked how you explained the issue and then brought it back to focus on the triple bottom line. SCE&G not only hurt their customer’s wallets, but they also put limits on the environment with dangerous nuclear power, and broke the trust that many people had in the company. These fake emails show that interest groups can persuade legislators to do just about anything to keep them happy and the money flowing.

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