Amisguided environmental-policy bill meandering through the Senate would slap U.S. businesses with piein-the-sky requirements for cutting greenhouse gases by unattainable amounts. The proposed bill introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and John Warner, Virginia Republican, would require companies to scale back greenhouse-gas emissions to 2005 levels by 2012 and 1990 levels by 2020. Over the longer haul, the bill would mandate a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Companies that wish to exceed the greenhouse-gas limits would be allowed to purchase credits from companies whose emissions meet the standards, purportedly to offset their environmental impact.
Titled the “America’s Climate Security Act,” the bill’s end results would cause serious damage to our economic security and at best have a negligible impact on the world’s rising greenhouse-gas emission levels. It also does nothing to boost nuclearenergy development, one of the cleanest and most efficient energy sources. The bill fails to compensate and protect consumers from rising natural gas prices and harms job security by encouraging companies to move overseas to nations with less draconian standards. In short, the bill’s effects would land a crippling encroachment on U.S. power plants, factories and transportation sectors.
One analysis by CRA International estimates the Lieberman-Warner bill will cost $4 to $6 trillion over 40 years. The American Council for Capital Formation has concluded that the legislation’s emissionsswapping scheme would lead to “higher energy prices, lost jobs and reduced [gross domestic product].” During testimony before a House committee, Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), stated that such swapping programs known as “cap-and-trade” would create “windfall” profits — profits that have even been denounced by presidential candidate John Edwards. The CBO has also cautioned that “price increases would disproportionately affect people at the lower end of the income scale.” It is baffling that congressional Democrats, who never cease to spout their populist rhetoric, are ignoring such a clarion call for ensur- ing economic stability among low and middle-income families.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in his new book, “The Age of Turbulence,“ described how these programs have unintended effects when he wrote that “[c]ap-and-trade systems or carbon taxes are likely to be popular only until real people lose real jobs as their consequence. There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy,” he argued. Democrats in Congress would do well to listen to Mr. Greenspan’s cogent views.
The rhetoric surrounding the issue of greenhouse gases has been fraught with emotion rather than reason.
“We would never leave a child alone in a hot, locked car, and I believe the [committee] will not leave this issue of global warming burning for another generation to address,“ said Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, in a fit of melodrama from the Senate floor when the bill was introduced last month.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Boxer chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is overseeing the bill’s movement. Last week a subcommittee of the panel advanced the Lieberman-Warner bill by a 4-3 vote.
In a letter to Sens. Lieberman and Warner last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pointed out that this flawed bill does not address the international nature of emission standards.
“Chinese emissions are projected to increase 119 percent and Indian emissions 131 percent between 2004 and 2030,” the chamber wrote. “Without participation by developing nations, the carbon constraints imposed by [Lieberman-Warner] would penalize domestic businesses attempting to compete in the world market while nonparticipating developing nations continue to get a free ride.”
Even the British environmental journal Nature last month suggested that Europeans should trash the Kyoto Protocol because it has failed to substantially reduce global greenhouse gases. It is puzzling that Congress is now seeking to adopt Kyoto-type standards, which will do nothing to help our Earth and do much to harm its citizens.