Planet Gore

Even the cheapest global warming bill ain’t cheap

A report released yesterday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be opening some eyes to the true costs and ultimate ineffectiveness of proposed domestic legislation to fight global warming.

The study is an analysis of the economic impact of New Mexico Democratic senator Jeff Bingaman’s version of climate legislation. It is important to note that Bingaman’s bill is widely considered to be the least stringent climate bill, with less aggressive carbon-emission-reduction targets than any other proposal. Even so, the EPA estimates that Bingaman’s bill would cause gas prices to rise 22 cents per gallon by 2030 and 57 cents per gallon by 2050. In addition, it would spark a 19-percent rise in electricity prices by 2030 ticking up to 21 percent by 2050. All told, Bingaman’s legislation would cut between 0.5 percent and 1.4 percent ($124 billion to $370 billion) from the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
Reaching the emission targets set in the Bingaman bill would require a 150-percent increase in nuclear power and the replacement of coal-fired power plants with newer plants that can capture and store CO2. Most people believe that even with new nuclear power plants coming on line, the industry will struggle to maintain its current 20-percent share of power generated, much less increase by 150 percent. And as for carbon sequestration, the technology doesn’t exist now, and the EPA is unsure whether it will exist in time to meet the targets (if ever).
Even if Bingaman’s bill becomes law and successfully meets its carbon targets, the EPA estimates that it will only reduce CO2 concentrations by an insignificant 11 parts per million. So thanks to Bingaman’s landmark legislation will keep CO2 concentrations to an estimated 707 ppm, rather than the estimated 718 ppm without it: a 1.5-percent reduction for the low, low annual price of $124 billion — $370 billion, tops.
Critics of the EPA’s analysis will — with a straight face, mind you — try to claim that, in relation to the entire economy, the $124 billion to $370 billion price tag is relatively small. But try telling that to the poorest Americans, who are struggling to pay their power bills now (and screaming for relief, which every presidential candidate is promising). The poor, and those on fixed incomes, spend a greater portion of their income on fuel than the more affluent — and those in energy-intensive industries may very well lose their jobs. Like all the proposed climate bills, Bingaman’s “moderate” bill amounts to a highly regressive tax on energy. And it delivers very little in CO2 reductions — the purported cause of the purported crisis that is global warming.

H. Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education institute in Dallas, Texas. While he works ...

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