May 20, 2008

May 20, 2008 | WebMemo on Energy and Environment

How District of Columbia Will Be Affected by the Lieberman-Warner Global Climate Change Legislation

Workers and families in the state of District of Columbia may be wondering how climate change legislation before Congress will affect their income, their jobs, and the cost of energy. Members of Congress are considering a number of bills designed to address climate change. Chief among them is S. 2191, America's Climate Security Act of 2007, introduced by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA). 1

The Lieberman-Warner legislation promises extraordinary perils for the American economy, should it become law, all for very little change in global temperatureā€¦perhaps even smaller than the .07 of a degree Celsius drop in temperature that many scientists expected from worldwide compliance with the Kyoto climate change accords. S. 2191 imposes strict upper limits on the emission of six greenhouse gases (GHG) with the primary emphasis on carbon dioxide (CO2). The mechanism for capping these emissions requires emitters to acquire federally created permits (called allowances) for each ton emitted.

Arbitrary restrictions predicated on multiple untested and undeveloped technologies will lead to severe restrictions on energy use and large increases in energy costs. In addition to the direct impact on consumers' budgets, these higher energy costs will spread through the economy, injecting unnecessary inefficiencies at virtually every stage of production and consumption.

Implementing S. 2191 will be very costly in District of Columbia, even given the most generous assumptions. Notable costs are listed below in Table 1:

Table 1: Estimated Economic Impact of S. 2191 in District of Columbia


Gross State Product Loss (Millions)

Non-Farm Employment Loss

Manufacturing Jobs Lost

Personal Income Lost (Millions)





















Consumers will be hard hit. Table 2 shows the expected increases in retail energy prices (adjusted to 2006 dollars to eliminate the impact of inflation) in 2025 for District of Columbia. Between 2012, when the restrictions first apply, and 2025, the prices of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline could rise by nearly 20 percent nationally when compared to prices in a world without S. 2191.

Table 2: Changes in Household Energy Prices in District of Columbia Due to S. 2191

Current Cost

2025 with current law in place

2025 with Leiberman-Warner in place

Dollar difference






Natural Gas










Note: The current annual cost of natural gas is based on consumption and prices as of 2006, the most recent data available. The annual cost of gasoline is based on the average price of regular unleaded in each state on May 20, 2008.

In addition to taking a bite out of consumers' pocketbooks, the high energy prices throw a monkey wrench into the production side of the economy. Contrary to the claims of an economic boost from "green" investment and "green-collar" job creation, S. 2191 reduces economic growth, gross domestic product (GDP), and employment.

[1]To learn more about the economic effects of the Lieberman-Warner legislation, see "The Economic Costs of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Change Legislation", CDA Report published on May 12, 2008. This Report is available at The authors gratefully acknowledge the work of Dr. Shanea Watkins in preparing the maps used in this briefing memo.

About the Author

William W. Beach Director, Center for Data Analysis and Lazof Family Fellow
Center for Data Analysis

David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. Senior Research Fellow, Energy Economics and Climate Change
Center for Data Analysis

Ben Lieberman Senior Policy Analyst, Energy and Environment
Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Nicolas Loris Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in Energy and Environmental Policy
Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies