Planet Gore

The Economic Benefits of Saddling U.S. Industry?

In an article today with a uniquely sensible headline – “House preparing for climate bill this year despite gloomy economic forecasts” – Platts says the following:

Virginia Democrat Rick Boucher, a key member of the House of Representatives charged with drafting comprehensive climate change legislation, vowed last week to move legislation through Congress and to the president’s desk this year. And gloomy economic forecasts would not slow the pace of getting the GHG cap-and-trade bill through Congress, he said.

 

To the contrary, the climate bill would lead to a significant economic boom for the United States, according to Boucher, based in part on the volume of low-emission technologies that would hit the market, creating thousands of jobs and making the US a major exporter of these goods.

This is a common theme and one that is well worth discussing.  By this I mean both the “green jobs” chimera and the companion notion that, once the U.S. imposes some restrictions on ourselves – which so far only Europe has imposed on itself – the world will suddenly want goods that the U.S. manufacturers will suddenly produce … but produced only on condition of mandates on the domestic market, mind you.

 

The “root cause” of this thinking seems to be a strain of American exceptionalism that says once the U.S. government applies the spurs to U.S. industry in the form of a threat to their competitiveness – possibly styled as a market opportunity for innovators – we will answer the call and produce stunning advances in “new” technologies pioneered anywhere from millennia (wind) to centuries (solar) ago.

 

Such thinking, increasingly fashionable on Capitol Hill, represents a keen understanding of rent-seeking if not of the actual market economy.  Above all, it represents an amazing triumph of hope over experience.  There may be something to that notion that the last people we want making laws affecting the economy are the lawmakers.

 

I am a firm believer in U.S. exceptionalism, but not to the point of folly such as this requires. Why is the above fantasy implausible? The EU economy, despite having long mandated all sorts of global warming-style gadgets (the industries producing which being among the most feverish of Kyotophiles both here and there), they still are mired in deep unemployment when they apparently should be busy selling everyone windmills.  What happened?

 

Is it, as John Kerry said in his global warming “debate” with Newt Gingrich, that the U.S. knows how to, e.g., “do cap and trade” but Europe doesn’t, and when we further strangle our available domestic energy sources on this front — just as we have strangled domestic oil and gas E&P — we will suddenly show the world they couldn’t live without our solar panels?

 

I would like to hear some reasoned comments supporting this, preferably not from anyone associated with the windmill or solar-panel industries or their affiliated advocacy groups.

 

Please begin by telling me which countries have found themselves prosperous as a result of imposing GHG restrictions.  The more detail the better – I’ve spent enough time looking to despair of ever finding this Wirtschaftwunder on my own – with particular attention paid to the baselines you are using to support your claim.

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