Energy Battle Heats Up | Citizens Against Government Waste

Energy Battle Heats Up

The WasteWatcher

Americans are feeling some relief from the drop in gas prices, which were more than $4.00 per gallon last summer and now hover around $2.25 per gallon.  After expectations that winter home heating costs would rise dramatically above the prior year, they rose less than predicted.  Some argue there is an “energy dividend” that is helping the economy by putting more money into consumers’ wallets.

But all of this relatively good news could be obliterated if the Obama Administration and some members of Congress get their way.  Americans will pay $646 billion over the next eight years to heat or cool their homes and use electricity with a hidden “light switch” tax.

President Obama’s fiscal year 2010 budget is chock-full of proposals to curtail fossil-fuel production, including the $646 billion cap-and-trade system to limit CO2 emissions, increased taxes on petroleum companies, and limitations on energy companies’ access to domestic oil and natural gas both offshore and on federal lands.  It is an all-out attack on carbon-based fuels.  This may seem like a good idea that echoes calls for an end to dependence on foreign oil, but it goes much further than that.

According to the Department of Energy, fossil fuels supply 85 percent of the energy consumed in the United States and will continue to do so far into the future.  Approximately 50 percent of the nation’s electricity is provided by coal-fired plants.  Even if the nation doubled its wind and solar power by 2012, it would only amount to about 2 percent of all electricity use.

Last year, the Senate briefly considered a cap-and-trade proposal, S. 2191 that was co-sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.).  A study released in March 2008 by the American Council for Capital Formation determined that the cost of such a cap-and-trade system could be as high $3,100 per family by 2020.  The bill died in the Senate.  Reports indicate that the cost of the Obama plan could be at least $3,600 per household.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the American Clean Energy and Security Act in early April.  The bill calls for a cut in greenhouse gas emissions cut by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, 42 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050.  This is a faster pace in greenhouse gas reductions than President Obama’s proposed 15 percent reduction by 2020.

What the legislation does not address is the most controversial issue:  how to distribute the emission allowances that would be traded between industries.  Rep. Waxman hopes to mark-up the bill in May but he is already facing resistance from elected officials in states whose industries and populations rely heavily on coal.  In fact, The Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio uncovered a vote-trading scheme by Chairman Waxman.  Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) told Ms. Ferrechio on April 23 that Chairman Waxman is “trying to entice him into voting for the bill by giving some refineries favorable treatment in the administration’s ‘cap and trade’ system, which is expected to generate hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming years.  Under the plan, companies would pay for the right to emit carbon dioxide, but Green and other lawmakers are angling to get a free pass for refineries in their districts.”

The Obama Administration was hoping to ram through cap-and-trade legislation this year by encouraging Congress to use a parliamentary procedure, called budget reconciliation, to avoid a Senate filibuster and limit debate.  Several members of the Senate pushed back and it appears that cap-and-trade legislation will be considered through a normal legislative process.  While this may slow down implementation of this hidden tax on energy, it does not mean businesses and taxpayers are out of danger.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an endangerment finding under the Clean Air Act that CO2 emissions from tailpipes are a pollutant that can harm public health.  This finding will force an industry that is already in deep trouble to produce “green cars” but it will not stop with vehicles.  The finding will begin a cascade of regulations across the entire spectrum of the U.S. economy to control CO2 emissions.

Anything that uses fossil fuels such as airplanes, tractors, hospitals, and even lawnmowers, will be subject to EPA oversight, requiring permits that are labor intensive and expensive in order to limit CO2 emissions.  Since there is no technology available that can sufficiently limit CO2 emissions to meet President Obama’s goal to reduce GHG emissions by 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, the result will be a forced rationing of energy use that will stifle the nation’s economy.  This is already occurring under the cap-and-trade plan now in place in Europe, where some otherwise energy efficient companies have closed down plants for certain hours of the day due to dramatic increases in utility costs.

The effort to control CO2 emissions is occurring because of a supposed scientific consensus that man and CO2 are causing global warming.  Yet, more and more scientists are speaking out, declaring that most global warming is not man-made but a natural and cyclic occurrence and that CO2 is not a pollutant, but a gas that is necessary for life on earth.  Before taxpayers send hundreds of billions of their dollars to government bureaucrats and politicians that want to control their activities and redistribute their wealth to politically-favored policies, there should be a debate on whether CO2 and global warming warrant such a drastic and expensive response.

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