Amidst the Healthcare Hubbub, Cap-and-Trade Moves Ahead | Citizens Against Government Waste
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Amidst the Healthcare Hubbub, Cap-and-Trade Moves Ahead

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact

While Congress and the American public remain fixated on the contentious healthcare debate, little attention has been paid to S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, better known as the Kerry-Boxer cap-and-trade bill.  Democrats have used this distraction to their advantage, steadily pushing the onerous climate change legislation forward.

On November 5, the Kerry-Boxer bill was passed through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) by an 11-1 vote.  Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) voted against the legislation, citing concerns about a 20 percent emissions reduction.  Republicans, who protested over whether the cost of the legislation had been fully examined by the Environmental Protection Agency, boycotted the vote. 

The hasty vote on the Kerry-Boxer bill was intended to show progress on climate change before the December 7 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where nations will try to work out a new global climate treaty.

Despite many similarities between the bills, the Kerry-Boxer legislation is even more stringent than its counterpart, the Waxman-Markey bill, which passed in the House on June 26 by a narrow 219-212 vote.  Under Kerry-Boxer, the nation will be forced to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in 2020, an even bigger hurdle than the 17 percent reduction under the House bill.  The legislation also calls for an 83 percent cut in emissions by 2050.  These goals are not only burdensome, they are extremely unrealistic, as much of the technology needed to control carbon dioxide emissions has yet to be developed.

Like the Waxman-Markey bill, Kerry-Boxer will result in new regulations, higher taxes, job losses, and massive increases in energy prices that will, without a doubt, contribute to the nation’s economic downturn.  The Heritage Foundation estimates that aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) losses will grow to $9.6 trillion, an average loss of about $400 billion per year over the first 24 years of the 40-year program.  Family energy costs are projected to rise by nearly $900 per year, totaling more than $21,000 over the first 24 years.

In an analysis of the less costly House bill, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that gasoline prices could increase by as much as 33.5 percent above projected 2030 levels and could push pump prices above $5 a gallon.

Additionally, sections 705 and 707 of the Kerry-Boxer bill would require federal agencies to terminate permits for any activity that results in greenhouse gas emissions if global greenhouse gas concentrations rise above 450 parts per million (ppm).  Under these mandates, the president would be required to direct agencies to use every regulatory tool at their disposal to reduce emissions below the 450 ppm threshold.  The language in these provisions changes present discretionary authority to a presidential mandate, forcing federal action without consideration of the nation’s economic and political security.  Since greenhouse gas concentrations are already at 430 ppm and rising steadily each year, it is a certainty that this dangerous trigger will go into effect, shutting down economic growth and development.

EPW Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) acknowledged that she is willing to alter the bill in order to get the 60 votes needed to pass the full Senate.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has publicly announced his support for climate change legislation, and has agreed to work with Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a compromise bill.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with many of its individual members, has also announced its support for climate change legislation.

If enacted without changes, the Kerry-Boxer bill would have devastating effects on the nation’s economy.  Lawmakers are eager to please the international environmental community, yet have ignored the best interests of their own constituents.  A cap-and-trade system would encourage domestic businesses to ship jobs overseas, merely shifting carbon emissions from the U.S. to countries like China, India, and Russia at the expense of hardworking Americans.  This boondoggle program would do nothing to address the supposed global warming crisis. 

Passing climate change legislation will only guarantee an explosion of the already bloated federal bureaucracy, a dramatic increase in energy prices, and the implementation of stiff regulations on businesses that will ultimately kill jobs and send America to the bottom of the international powerhouse list.  It’s no wonder foreign nations have applauded America’s efforts to be the greenhouse gas guinea pigs.

  -- Erica Gordon


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