Climate assumptions from another planet

As the 821-page Kerry-Boxer climate bill gets fast-tracked in the Senate, as a companion to the 1427-page House bill, it is critical that we reexamine the assumptions behind cap-tax-and-trade legislation.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Information Administration and other optimistic analysts claim America can limit and tax hydrocarbon use, and switch to “ecologically friendly” renewable energy, with minimal harm to families, businesses and jobs. Their low-ball cost estimates are based on assumptions that can only have come from another planet:

  • We will overcome decades of fear, resistance, lawsuits and over-regulation, and double US nuclear power in just 25 years.
  • Workable, affordable technologies will suddenly materialize to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from emission streams and store it underground – and won’t run into buzz saw of NIMBY and eco litigation.
  • Renewable energy will generate abundant, reliable, affordable electricity that can replace hydrocarbons, power our economy and easily be integrated into the grid.
  • There will be no lawsuits or opposition over hundreds of thousands of giant wind turbines across habitats and scenic areas; hundreds of square miles of solar panels in the desert Southwest; thousands of miles of new transmission lines; millions of dead birds and bats; and mining and drilling to provide hundreds of millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass, rare earth elements and plastic film for all those eco-friendly renewable facilities.
  • Millions of “green jobs” will be created by mandated, subsidized renewable energy. The jobs won’t be just lawyers, regulators, cap-and-trade dealers, and wind and solar system installers. And the green jobs will exceed the millions of manufacturing jobs that cap-tax-and-trade will destroy.
  • Many manufacturers, utility companies and refiners won’t have to buy increasingly expensive CO2 permits, because they can purchase “carbon offsets” from developing countries, whose leaders will gladly accept cash to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and forego jobs, prosperity and mobility for their people, by not building more factories, power plants and cars.
  • Major developing countries like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia will slash their own CO2 emissions and economic growth by 20-50% by 2050 – so that carbon dioxide reductions achieved by American families and businesses will not be overwhelmed by skyrocketing emissions overseas.

These EPA and EIA assumptions are naively optimistic at best, and delusional at worst. They should certainly not serve as a foundation for setting energy and climate change policy, especially when global warming science itself is coming under increasing criticism for errors, exaggerations, fabrications, “cherry-picked” and “lost” data, and computer modeling that reflects neither observations nor reality.

Pending legislation (and EPA “endangerment” rulings) would hit Americans with “climate crisis prevention” programs that cost trillions of dollars – prolonging our recession and near-double-digit unemployment. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) wasn’t exaggerating when he called cap-and-tax “the most significant revenue-generating proposal of our time.”

Applying much more realistic assumptions, CRA Associates, American Council for Capital Formation and other analysts have calculated that Waxman-Markey would reduce US gross domestic product by a cumulative $9.4 trillion by 2035. Emission permit costs for energy users could exceed $300 billion per year by 2035.

Average households could pay 58% more for gasoline, 90% more for electricity, the Heritage Center for Data Analysis calculated. A typical family of four could pay $829 more annually just for electricity, and up to $4,600 for energy, food and consumer goods, say Heritage, CRA and other analysts.

This is not wealth creation. It is a massive wealth transfer – from hydrocarbon users to carbon traders, non-hydrocarbon energy industries, bureaucrats, activists and other preferred groups. Poor families could get “energy welfare” payments, to offset some added costs, but small businesses and middle class families would get hammered.

Over 85% of America’s black population lives within a 700-mile radius of Nashville, Tennessee, notes the National Black Chamber of Commerce. This region depends heavily on oil, natural gas and coal for electricity and transportation fuels. Hardest hit will be manufacturing industries that provide numerous minority and middle class jobs.

The White House, EPA and Congress need to base laws and policies on reality. Instead, they are trying to tax, penalize and stymie access to oil, gas, coal and uranium resources that our nation has in abundance – energy that could generate trillions in bonus, rent, royalty and tax revenues. They are forcing America to import trillions in foreign oil, imposing trillions in national debt, and taxing anything that moves to pay for bloated government spending.

We need honest, transparent legislating, economic commonsense, and reliable, affordable energy for technologies that improve, enrich and safeguard our lives. We need proof – not assumptions, assertions and computer models – that we actually face manmade climate disaster, before we curtail energy use and sacrifice dreams, opportunities, jobs, living standards, freedoms and civil rights. 

We need robust debate now – not after expensive, intrusive, punitive laws have been enacted.

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Roy Innis is national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CORE (www.CongressOfRacialEquality.org) and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org)

This article was published in Investor’s Business Daily on October 16, 2009. For online version go to: http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=509258

 

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About the Author: Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.