The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

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.

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