Even a $600-a-year increase in utility bills would be a “hardship” for 78% of American families, notes a recent Lauer Johnson Research poll. They should be so lucky.

If the pending Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill (HR 2454) becomes law, utility bills will soar. Farm and business energy costs will skyrocket — and be passed on to consumers, or defrayed by layoffs. Everything Americans grow, make, buy and do will be far pricier. And bureaucrats will control our lives.

Compared to no cap-and-tax regime, Waxman-Markey would cost the United States a cumulative $9.6 trillion in real GDP losses by 2035, concludes a study by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. The bill would also cause an additional 1.1 million job losses each year, raise electricity rates 90% after adjusting for inflation, provoke a 74% hike in inflation-adjusted gasoline prices, and add $1,500 to the average family’s annual energy bill, says Heritage.

The Congressional Budget Office says the poorest one-fifth of families could see annual energy costs rise $700 — while high-income families could see costs rise $2,200. Harvard economist Martin Feldstein estimates that the average person could pay an extra $1,500 per year for energy. And those are just direct energy costs.

Where will families find that extra cash? “What do I tell a single mom, making $8 an hour?” asked North Carolina congressman G. K. Butterfield.

That was a few days before he, his Democrat colleagues and one Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to approve Waxman-Markey. They also defeated amendments that would have suspended its punitive provisions if electricity prices go up 10% after inflation, unemployment reaches 15% or gasoline prices hit $5.

The bill would radically “transform” our energy and economic systems; tax and hobble hydrocarbon use; mandate and subsidize “green” energy; and dole out innumerable preferences — and penalties.

No wonder 2,300 energy/climate lobbyists have descended on Washington. Companies are desperate to have a “seat at the negotiating table,” and thus happy to pay $400-$850 per hour to help cut deals that benefit them, hobble competitors and enact cap-tax-and-trade rules that will make mortgage derivatives markets look like child’s play.

Written largely by professional environmentalists, the numbingly complex 942-page bill would require an 83% reduction in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 — a level last seen in 1908. That’s before accounting for the far lower population levels and nigh-antediluvian manufacturing, transportation and electrification systems of a century ago. Its costly provisions would dictate every aspect of our lives.

Even worse, the draconian rules would have no detectable benefits, even assuming CO2 does cause climate change. Using global warming alarmists’ own computer models, research climatologist Chip Knappenberger calculated that the painful 83% reductions would result in global temperatures rising a mere 0.1 degrees F less by 2050 than doing nothing. That’s because Chinese and Indian emissions would quickly dwarf America’s job-killing reductions.

A key Waxman-Markey goal is to replace hydrocarbons with wind power. But that would require billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies; hundreds of thousands of turbines, across millions of acres of scenic land, habitats and sea lanes; thousands of miles of new transmission lines and towers; and billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper and fiberglass — plus raw materials and natural gas for backup generators.

Spanish taxpayers spent $754,000 for each new wind energy job, mostly installing towering turbines, Dr. Gabriel Calzada calculated. But switching to wind destroyed 2.2 regular jobs for each “green” job, largely because pricey “renewable” electricity forced companies to lay off workers, to stay in business.

White House and congressional leaders don’t want to hear any of this.

President Obama says the Bush administration “made decisions based upon fear, rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.” He and his congressional allies should take that critique to heart on global warming.

We need a serious, robust debate on this intrusive legislation — and on a rapidly growing body of scientific evidence that says planetary temperatures are actually falling, carbon dioxide plays only a minor role in climate change, and we do not face worse floods, droughts, storms or other disasters.

To inflict intense pain for no environmental gain is immoral. To ram such legislation through with backroom deals and no substantive debate — and unleash bureaucrats to control our energy use and lives — is dictatorial and un-American. When The People finally catch on, it won’t be a pretty sight.


  • Paul Driessen

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