Carbon tax hallucinations

Carbon taxes will do nothing for revenues or climate, but will hurt job and economic growth

  • skysun3

This article was also published on Townhall.com on February 16, 2013.

Average planetary temperatures haven’t budged in 16 years. Hurricanes and strong tornadoes are at or near their lowest ebb in decades. Global sea ice is back to normal, Arctic ice is nearly normal, and the Antarctic icepack continues to grow. The rate of sea level rise remains what it was in 1900.

And yet, President Obama and many politicians, newscasters and alarmist scientists continue to insist that carbon dioxide emissions are changing Earth’s climate, and we need to take immediate action to prevent storms like Hurricane Sandy and avert catastrophes predicted by IPCC computer models and alleged “scientific consensus.” Not surprisingly, polls show public support for controlling CO2 output and taxing hydrocarbon use – to “ensure climate security” and “save vital federal programs” from budgetary axes.

As the liberal lobby Think Progress put it, people “overwhelmingly” prefer a carbon tax on “big polluters” versus cuts in favorite programs “like education, Social Security, Medicare and environmental protection.”

Five-alarm climate claims, skewed polling questions and phony taxes-versus-grandma budget alternatives will almost always ensure support for carbon taxes – especially among Bigger Government and Ban Fossil Fuels constituencies. More rational analysis reveals that dreams of hundred-billion-dollar windfalls from slapping regressive new taxes on job creation and economic growth are nothing more than dangerous tax revenue hallucinations. They would bring intense pain for no climate or economic gain.

Employing Energy Information Administration data, a recent Heritage Foundation study by economists David Kreutzer and Nicolas Loris found that a tax starting at $25-per-ton of CO2 emitted and increasing by 5% per year would cut a family of four’s income by $1,400 annually, raise their utility bills by $500 a year, and increase gasoline fill-ups by up to 50 cents per gallon. That’s $2,000 a year chopped from their budget for food, vacations, home and car payments and repairs, college and retirement savings, dental and medical care, and overall quality of life.

Even “millionaire” families making $200,000 a year would find such a hit painful. While the poorest families might get some offsetting tax relief, most would get nothing – nor would employers.

Carbon taxes would thus increase the likelihood that many breadwinners will end up unemployed, since the tax would raise business energy costs dramatically, force companies to trim hours and/or employees, and result in an aggregate loss of at least 1 million jobs by 2016, Heritage notes. That would bring more home foreclosures, greater stress, reduced nutrition, and more strokes and heart attacks, especially for older workers whose odds of finding new employment are increasingly bleak.

No small businesses or energy-intensive manufacturing companies would get a rebate for their soaring carbon taxes. Nor would any mall, hospital, school, church, synagogue or charity group.

Hydrocarbons provide over 83% of all the energy that powers America. A carbon tax would put a hefty surcharge on everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do. It would put the federal government in control of, not just one-sixth of our economy as under Obamacare, but 100% of our economy and lives. It would make the United States increasingly less productive, less competitive globally, less able to provide opportunities for our children.

But it gets worse, because this tax on America’s energy and productivity is not being promoted in a vacuum. It would be imposed on top of countless other job and economy strangling actions.

President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has already issued 2,071 new rules and dispensed a regulatory burden of over $353 billion per year – equal to all wealth generated annually by Virginia’s private sector. It is now preparing still more rules, the most crushing of which would regulate the same CO2 emissions that some in Congress want to tax, from both moving and stationary sources. Most, if not all of its punitive rules, are based on exaggerated risks, fear mongering, junk science, and illusory health, welfare, “environmental justice” and “sustainability” benefits.

Other agencies are inflicting still more rules, and more crushing paperwork burdens. Obamacare alone will add 127,602,371 more hours per year to the federal paperwork burden for American businesses and families. That’s enough time to carve 1,039 Mount Rushmore monuments, says the Washington Examiner. Even at $25 per hour, that’s $32 billion a year. On top of that, there are the Dodd-Frank financial requirements and myriad other costly, time-consuming, economy-sapping, job-killing rules.

Nothing at all suggests that Congress would reverse or modify even one of these laws, regulations and taxes, as part of a carbon tax deal – or that Mr. Obama would refrain from vetoing any attempted change. Nothing whatsoever suggests that Congress, the President or environmentalists will ease their opposition to issuing leases and drilling and fracking permits for more of our vast onshore and offshore oil and gas deposits, which could generate millions of  jobs and billions in royalties and tax revenues. Or that they won’t ultimately enact a punitive cap-and-trade law on top of all of this.

Instead of real energy for real jobs and revenues, President Obama wants to redouble spending on “green” energy – extracting billions of dollars from still productive sectors of our economy, and transferring the money to crony corporatists and campaign contributors, whose operations are exempted from endangered species and other laws that are imposed routinely and punitively on oil, mining and other companies.

Meanwhile, federal “discretionary” spending skyrocketed another $129 billion annually in just four years under Obama. That’s comparable to what carbon tax snake oil salesmen claim a $25-per-ton tax would raise each year, several years into a steadily escalating tax, using static analyses that ignore all these “concrete lifesaver” effects.

The CBO Congressional Budget Office says the US economy will grow by a miserly 1.4% for the next several years, and official unemployment will remain stuck at 7.5% (plus extensive involuntary underemployment and people who have given up looking). Washington Post economics analyst Neil Irwin worries that the United States doesn’t just have a $1-trillion budget deficit. Largely because of government restrictions, regulations, red tape and taxes, it also has a $1-trillion “output gap,” between what it is capable of producing and what it actually produces.

To top it off, if Congress and the White House get more money, they will spend more money!

The net result of a carbon tax will not be new federal revenues. It will be more economic strangulation, a more bloated federal bureaucracy, more layoffs, sharply higher unemployment, food stamp and welfare payouts, reduced corporate and personal income tax receipts  – and thus reduced federal revenues.

And for what? The Kyoto Protocol is dead. Japan and many other countries are rejecting any new binding emission targets. China, India, other rapidly developing nations, and even Germany and Europe are burning more coal, emitting more carbon dioxide, and sending atmospheric CO2 levels higher.

And yet, average planetary temperatures show no trend up or down, and global hurricane activity stands at a near-record low. There’s no change in big tornadoes, droughts or rains averaged over the USA for the past century. Polar sea ice is down slightly in the Northern Hemisphere, but up in the Southern. And sea levels show no measurable deviation from trends over the last hundred years.

The only thing that will happen if carbon taxes are inflicted on the US economy is that American jobs, economic growth, living standards, health, dreams and lives will be sacrificed for nothing.

We need to stop basing laws and policies on hallucinations – and start basing them on reality.

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About the Author: Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

  • Peter F. Alexander

    Well said Paul…did the UK drop in GDP and the Euro GDP drop happen to occur at the same time they drank the carbon devil cool aid ?
    YES

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dill-Weed/100000216524046 Dill Weed

    You may have missed this in your review of the science, but arctic sea ice has dropped to 1/5 of its 1980 volume. There is a graph that shows the volume decrease in an original and compelling way. This has been confirmed by measurements from satellites and by actual physical measurements so it is not a claimed based on a model.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/14/1594211/death-spiral-bombshell-cryosat-2-confirms-arctic-sea-ice-volume-has-collapsed/

    The findings were published online in Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d). In a U. of Washington news release, polar scientist and coauthor Axel Schweiger said:
    “Other people had argued that 75 to 80 percent ice volume loss was too aggressive. What this new paper shows is that our ice loss estimates may have been too conservative, and that the recent decline is possibly more rapid.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Craig-J-Townsend/100003945426141 Craig J. Townsend

      And in the 1930s
      the sea ice was just as low as we have now and a huge temp increase back then
      that is hidden by the media and the AGW. One report does not an eco-tastrophe
      make! There are so many scientific studies that refute the meta-narrative and
      they cannot get published in sci-journals because the AGW paradigm took them
      over. yet reports show it is unraveling The director of the IPCC himself just came
      out and confirmed the temp decline that so many AGW state is a lie. The MET and
      the NOAA have both said that hurricanes and extreme weather events are down,
      not up. Antarctic sea ice is at an all-time high. Spending $1.4 T a year to save 0.3 degree rise
      by 2100 is insane.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dill-Weed/100000216524046 Dill Weed

        There aren’t accurate records from then as there are now. How is the media hiding temperature records from the 30s? If what you are claiming is true, the next IPCC report should verify your position.

  • TonyfromOz

    Paul,

    great article.

    Here in Australia, our Government has already committed us to a Tax on CO2 emissions, and the same thing is being said about this Tax. We are told it is to be paid by the dirty polluters, and this is a fallacy spread with spin.

    As we are aware, quite a large percentage of those emissions come from the electrical power generating sector, the the vast bulk of them from coal fired power generation.

    True, those generating entities do have to pay the tax. (set here at $23 per ton) However, those generating entities pass on that cost in full to the entities that sell electricity at retail to all consumers, and those retailers selling the electricity pass on that full impost directly down to all consumers, in the three sectors that consume electricity, Residential (38%) Commerce (37%) and Industrial (24%).

    So, while the spin says that the polluters will pay, all costs are in fact paid by the public in increased costs for the electricity that they consume, and here in Australia, it has worked out to around 3 cents per KWH (KiloWattHour).

    So, while your household electricity price rises, all those other areas such as in every place you shop (the Commerce Sector) their prices will also rise as they seek to recover what are now higher overheads.

    So, the meme that only the dirty polluters will pay is a false one that is spin from the Government who will be making a huge windfall from this.

    Tony.

  • colleenf

    Great article! Share, email this article to all your liberal friends and family…..guaranteed to make them go bonkers!
    The only reason these libs want a carbon tax is to just impose another tax to soak us all.

  • jameshrust

    We are about to be bombarded from climate alarmists their latest news the volume of sea ice in the Arctic has declined by 80 percent from 1979 to the autumn of 2012. This is based on recent studies on Arctic sea ice thickness published early February 2013. The studies are by scientists using NASA satellites and underwater sonar stations to measure thickness of Arctic sea ice. Consult an article by NASA about their studies shown by this url or other NASA or JPL labeled references:
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-057&rn=news.xml&amp

    This paper states measurements have been made for two years and the data should not be used to forecast a trend. Autumn sea ice volume in 2012 is 36 percent smaller than a few earlier years. Winter sea volume is 9 percent smaller than a few earlier years. A large hurricane originating in Alaska swept over the North Pole in August 2012 and tore up Arctic sea ice and propelled a lot of the sea ice southward where it melted. This would make a large reduction in sea ice volume for late September 2012. NASA reported the hurricane September 18, 2012 and mentioned this is a rare event; but they do occur every once in a while. Since September 2012, Arctic sea ice has been restored at a record pace and by late February 2013 the sea ice extent is within 3 percent its average.

    So don’t get too upset about the announcement of changes in Arctic sea ice volume. The albedo effect of sea ice reflecting the incoming sun’s radiation back to outer space in the summer has to do with the sea ice surface area; not volume. Also remember the sun only shines in the Arctic six months of the year. For May, June, July, and early August the sun shines 24 hours a day. For late October through early February the sun doesn’t shine at all in the Arctic. If you visit the Arctic in the winter, take a flashlight.

    Typicaly Arctic sea ice ranges from a maximum of 16 million square kilometers in late March to a minimum of 4 million square kilometers September 16. Thus sea ice volume has to normally be reduced by 75 percent. Climate alarmists are trying to use something that normally happens to be construed as a problem due to carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

    Worries about salt changes in Arctic waters due to sea ice having no salt have to be questionable. Salt is removed from ice as it freezes and stays in the water that didn’t freeze. The volume of Arctic waters that become ice at the time of maximum sea ice extent in late March has to be insignificant compared to the total volume of water in the Arctic Ocean.
    Be wary reading reports about Arctic sea ice losses from climate alarmist sources.
    James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dill-Weed/100000216524046 Dill Weed

      Recovery of arctic extent to within in 3% of its average, but the ice is thinner, will melt faster, is more vulnerable to storms, and will when it melts expose much more of the arctic waters to sunlight. Volume does affect albedo.
      These measurements are important because they validate satellite measurements. The trend for arctic sea ice has been established over the last 30 years and continues downward. This study documents the current state and the continuing downward trend. What we are experiencing is not simply normal freezing and melting. We are witnessing a change in the state of the arctic. The trend has been identified and has been accelerating. Where it will stop remains to be seen.