Written by Paul Driessen
June 8, 2009
US energy and climate plans would drag us back to 1905 - or 1862
by Paul Driessen
President Obama wants to prevent "runaway global warming," by slashing US carbon dioxide emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. According to Oak Ridge National Laboratory data, this reduction would return the United States to emission levels last seen in those halcyon days of 1905!
But America's 1905 population was 84 million, versus 308 million today. We didn't drive or fly, or generate electricity for offices, factories, schools and hospitals. To account for those factors, we'd have to send CO2 emissions back to 1862 levels.
The Civil War was raging. The industrial revolution was in its infancy. Malaria, typhus and cholera killed thousands every year. Life expectancy was 40 - half of what abundant, affordable energy have helped make it today.
No matter. The 648-page Waxman-Markey climate bill would compel an 80% CO2 reduction, by imposing punitive cap-and-tax restrictions on virtually every hydrocarbon-using business, motorist and family.
That's making some legislators nervous, as they ponder the health, economic and employment effects of restricting energy supplies and driving up the cost of everything we eat, drink, make and do - especially in 20 states that get 60-98% of their electricity from coal.
So to prod Congress into action, or achieve the 80% target via regulatory edict, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency has decreed that plant-enhancing, life-sustaining carbon dioxide "endangers human health and welfare."
The authoritarian actions it is contemplating would regulate cars, trains, boats and planes; pave the way for regulating farms and factories, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, malls and lawn mowers; and send energy prices skyrocketing.
Thousands of climate experts say there is no crisis, computer model scenarios and predictions are meaningless, and CO2 plays little or no substantive role in climate change. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 48% of American voters now believe climate change is caused by natural forces; only 34% now think it's due to humans.
Climate realists also recognize that, even if America eliminated all of its greenhouse gas emissions, soaring Chinese and Indian carbon dioxide emissions would promptly offset our draconian cuts.
This alarms climate alarmists. They fear it's now or never to wrest control over energy and the economic, manufacturing and transportation activities it fuels. Now or never to profit from cap-and-tax laws and renewable energy mandates.
Corporate groups like the Carbon Offset Providers Coalition are banking on passage of Waxman-Markey. They want a "rigorous and efficient" CO2 scheme, to foster high carbon prices, maximum subsidies and strong profits.
President Obama says cap-and-trade will "raise" $656 billion over the next decade. The National Economic Council and other analysts put the tax bite at $1.3 to $3.0 trillion.
This is not monetary manna. The wealth will be extracted from every hydrocarbon-using business, motorist and family.
The intrusive energy rules and taxes will clobber households, manufacturers, farmers, truckers and airlines. The poorest families will get energy welfare, to offset part of their $500-3,000 increase in annual heating, cooling, transportation and food expenses. Everyone else will have to trim health, vacation, charity, college and retirement budgets to pay the higher costs.
Every increase in energy prices will result in more businesses laying off workers or closing their doors, more jobs sent overseas, more families forced into welfare, more school districts, hospitals and churches into whirlpools of red ink. Exactly how will they eliminate 80% of CO2 emissions by 2050, and pay skyrocketing fuel bills?
Where will we site hundreds of thousands of towering onshore and offshore wind turbines - to replace electricity we get from coal? Where will we get billions of tons of steel, concrete, copper and fiberglass to build and install the expensive, unreliable, subsidized monsters?
My grandmother used to say, The only good thing about the "good old days" is that they're gone.
Few Americans will be enthralled by the prospect of returning to that era. Fewer will relish the hefty price tag - and damage to their freedoms, budgets, jobs, living standards and environment.
The White House, EPA and Congress need a serious reality check.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.