There are only three things you need to know about the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill that was released Wednesday—it will accomplish nothing for the environment; it will cost a lot of money and it will financially enrich and politically empower a host of scoundrels.
Regardless of what you think about manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, it is undeniable that the emissions reductions contemplated by Kerry-Lieberman don’t amount to a hill of beans. The goal of Kerry-Lieberman, like the goal of the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill, is to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2050.
But rather than such paltry emissions cuts, let’s say that starting next year, we just shut down America—zero emissions—and kept it shut down for the next 100 years. What difference would that make atmosphere-wise?
Roughly speaking, U.S. energy use (at 2005 levels) adds to atmospheric CO2 at a rate of about 1 part per million every three years. So after 100 years, U.S. energy use would add about 33 ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere. Is that a lot?
Well, atmospheric CO2 has increased by over 35 ppm since 1995 without producing any global warming at all—that’s according to IPCC contributor and Captain Climategate himself, the University of East Anglia’s Phil Jones. Moreover, physicists agree that every molecule of CO2 added to the atmosphere has less global warming potential than the molecule that preceded it. So the next 35 ppm of atmospheric CO2 will have less impact than the preceding 35ppm, which had no discernible effect.
None of this is a secret, the EPA did this analysis for itself in 2007.
Back to Kerry-Lieberman, it carbon emissions reduction provisions would obviously be nowhere near as severe as the shuting-down-America-for-100-years-scenario.
So what will Kerry-Lieberman cost us to accomplish nothing?
Based on the Waxman-Markey bill, which Kerry-Lieberman is modeled after, the Brookings Institution (hardly a hotbed of climate skeptics or Chicago-school economic thought) estimated that between 2012 and 2050, mandatory CO2 emission reductions would make energy cost $9 trillion more—this works out to a cost of about $3,100 per year for a family of four.
This of course doesn’t take into account the inflationary aspects of making energy cost more—after all, all goods and services are produced with energy and energy that costs more will necessary inflate the cost of everything. Americans will have a hard time paying these costs given all the jobs that will flee overseas to places like China, India and Mexico where carbon caps won’t exist, and energy and labor prices will be lower.
But surely someone will benefit from Kerry-Lieberman, right? That $9 trillion, after all, must go somewhere.
Sales of permits to emit CO2 will fill federal coffers with more money for politicians to hand out to special interest groups. Many CO2 emission permits will be handed out for free to special interests who will be able to turn around and sell them in the market for guaranteed profits. Wall Street will get to profit from the trading—just assume that every time you switch on a light a bell will ring at Goldman Sachs notifying it of yet more profits from nonproductive financial shenanigans. Al Gore’s venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins has invested more than a billion dollars in dozens of companies that are Kerry-Lieberman dependent. Talk about Gore-porate greed.
Kerry Lieberman contains a host of mandates and programs for energy efficiency, so-called green technologies and other corporate welfare programs. Companies like GE would profit from electric utilities being forced to buy expensive “renewable” technologies and from consumers being forced to buy more expensive appliances.
Worse than the transfer of wealth from the hard-working to the hardly-working, is the transfer of power from Americans over their own lives and businesses to governmental goons and busy-bodies. The Environmental Protection Agency—the most rogue federal agency of all —would be responsible for administering Kerry-Lieberman. While EPA control over the economy and the power to enforce that control would be immensely expanded, American business and individuals would have essentially the same ability as now to defend themselves against the EPA—pretty much none.
Although Kerry-Lieberman is a loser of a bill for the vast majority of America, we will have our hands full fighting its financial and political beneficiaries. Even if the bill fails to pass before the election, there is talk on Capitol Hill of procedural shenanigans by which a lameduck Congress could pass it regardless of what Americans have to say in November.
Rise up America, while you still can.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery 2009).