May 15, 2008 | Commentary on Energy and Environment
Think energy is expensive now? Wait until Congress plugs in the "Climate Security Act of 2007."
That's the leading piece of legislation on Capitol Hill designed to combat "climate change."Lawmakers have cooked up an expensive solution to a hyped-up rallying cry against a "problem" thatscientists can't even agree exists in the first place. Of course, Congress is doing what Congress seems to do best -- pass laws in response to the latest craze. In this case, if the politicians are successful, you may find yourself nostalgic for the days of $3.60 gasoline.
And that would be only the start. The overall economic costs could be staggering.
Economists at The Heritage Foundation rolled up their sleeves and got under the hood of current proposal. They've run the numbers -- and what they found will make all Americans want to buckle up.If the Climate Security Act becomes law, lawmakers would thrust our economy downhill in a hurry.
First, a quick look at what the legislation aims to do: Strictly limit the amount of greenhouses gases (primarily carbon dioxide, or CO2) each power plant, factory, refinery or other regulated company could emit. Those who cut emissions below what the government allows annually could sell their excess "allowances" to other companies. It sounds like a sick joke -- sort of like saying such emissions are sins, but if you don't indulge in yours as much as Big Brother says you can, then you can sell your "sin rights"to others. My goodness, has Washingtonreally gotten that absurd?
It gets worse. The limits in the bill rely on "multiple, untested and undeveloped technologies" that "will lead to severe restrictions on energy use and large increases in energy costs," according to Heritage researchers William Beach, David Kreutzer, Ben Lieberman and Nicolas Loris. All in all, the legislation -- sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) -- "represents an extraordinary level of economic interference by the federal government," the researchers write.
The bill also would take a serious gamble: Rely on what the researchers call "a critical but unproven technology" known as "carbon capture and sequestration." That's a fancy way of saying carbon would be caught and stored underground, rather than continuing to be released into the atmosphere. The Lieberman-Warner bill assumes it won't be ready for another 10 years -- an assumption that the Heritage researchers consider too optimistic.
So how would Lieberman-Warner affect our economy? Start with something we can all relate to: personal income. Under the bill, income in the U.S. would drop significantly, starting in 2012, from a decline of more than $30 billion that year to $121.9 billion in 2016. Or, to put it another way: All other things being equal, by 2016, the annual household income for a family of four would fall by $1,494 -- about what that family pays now for two months of food.
Gross domestic product would start to take a nosedive in 2012 as well. By 2030, GDP would be $436 billion less than it would be if the bill hadn't become law.
Energy prices would spike, too. Heating oil would go from $2,120 annually per household in 2012 to $2,728 by 2030. Over the same period, electricity would rise from $1,213 per year to $1,860, and natural gas would go from $1,090 to $1,393. By 2030, the Heritage researchers write, "the total energy bill for the average American consumer has gone up $8,870."
How would Lieberman-Warner affect employment? The Heritage analysis shows that annual job losses exceed 500,000 before 2030 and could approach 1 million. Factory jobs would decline sharply; we'd lose 2.3 million jobs in durable-goods manufacturing in 2029 as the changes forced the economy rapidly away from that sector.
What about the "green-collar" jobs the bill is expected to create? The researchers did find an initial bump in employment as firms buy the equipment they need to make themselves more CO2-friendly. "However, any 'green-collar' jobs created are more than offset by other job losses," Heritage experts note. "The initial uptick is small compared to the hundreds of thousands of lost jobs in later years."
Lost income. Higher energy costs. Fewer jobs. Even for Congress, that's quite a list of unintended consequences -- and all to satisfy the mass-hysteria fueled by junk science, Hollywood and an out-of-control public-education system that's brainwashing an entire generation of kids to think we're all going to burn to a crisp. Seems the only thing that truly fried at the moment is common sense.
Rebecca Hagelin, a vice president at The Heritage Foundation, is the author of "Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad" and runs the Web site HomeInvasion.org .