Lieberman-Warner: 'Most Massive Bureaucratic Intrusion' Since IRS - Gas Prices 'Too Low?' - 'Train Wreck' - Round Up
May 29, 2008
Inhofe EPW Press Blog
Lieberman-Warner: 'Most Massive Bureaucratic Intrusion' Since IRS - Gas Prices 'Too Low?'- 'Train Wreck'
A sampling of the latest news now included on the new web page is provided below:
Sampling of Latest News on Lieberman-Warner
(By Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety)
Excerpt: The decisions made could result in the most massive bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of Americans since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service. […] There is a gathering storm on the horizon for Ohio - a storm that could deal a destructive blow to our state's already struggling economy and your quality of life. In its wake, Ohioans could see the loss of thousands of goodpaying jobs, shocking increases in natural gas, electricity and gasoline prices and pocketnumbing decreases in household incomes. This storm comes in the form of current legislative efforts in Washington to mandate massive reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The debate is not about whether or not these reductions are necessary - most agree that we must act quickly to address climate change. The debate is about whether or not to invest the time and effort necessary to do it in a responsible, comprehensive and pro-growth fashion as opposed to rushing through an irresponsible, piecemeal plan that will raise energy costs on already-hurting families, send jobs overseas and fail to help the environment as intended. […] The smart way to go about addressing this problem isn't through unilateral actions that would hurt our economy and drive jobs overseas. But the policy proposal now under consideration in the Senate - the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act - would do exactly that. […] Americans should not suffer for symbolism while countries like China and India emit increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases without consequences. Ohioans are already struggling with the cost of living due to higher prices for gasoline, home heating fuel, electricity, food and health care. Lieberman- Warner will only make things worse. We cannot tolerate policies that harm our economy and drive business overseas to countries that do not recognize their environmental responsibilities, or just do not have the political will to act. We will then be worse off on two counts - fewer jobs and an environment that isn't any cleaner than when we started.
Excerpt: Gingrich told Fox News Lieberman-Warner should be called the “China and India Full Employment Act” because it will ship American industry overseas (even though most serious studies find little risk of large-scale “carbon leakage,” as that kind of outsourcing is known.) […] It’s shaping up to be a Dickensian summer on the Hill. What seemed just a few months ago like the best of times to pass ambitious climate-change legislation has suddenly turned into the worst of times. Nobel-prize momentum has given way to hand-wringing over the economy. That makes the difficult balancing act of crafting politically palatable but still effective climate laws even tougher. The big worry now? By trying to sugarcoat the Lieberman-Warner bill enough to garner a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate, proponents of climate-legislation run the risk of making the new law a paper tiger. That could mean plenty of costs with few environmental benefits—and ensures nobody’s happy. Conservatives fret over the former; environmentalists are livid over the latter. […] That, says the World Resources Institute, means that over the next dozen years—despite all the cost and complexity of implementing a big program to regulate the whole economy—the net result would be the same as having no new program at all.
Excerpt: Now, when I redo the math, it seems the most likely outcome of this bill is that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2025 would be about the same as they are now, and possibly higher. If that's the best we can do for a piece of legislation that's deader than a dead parrot, why bother?
Excerpt: Millions of vacationers paid record prices for gasoline as they hit the roads on Memorial Day weekend, and only those who've been in the sun too long would like to see prices climb even higher. Yet several members of Congress seem determined to guarantee that they will. They're trying to pass a bill that would raise pump prices. Why? Because they think it would force people to use less. The America's Climate Security Act, sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman and John Warner, would also increase electricity and natural gas costs, all in the name of supposedly fighting global warming. The bill, scheduled to be debated in the Senate on June 2, essentially places limits on the amount of gasoline and other fossil fuels Americans can use. The aim is to cut our emissions of carbon dioxide, which is blamed for warming the planet. […] Consider Western Europe, which already has similar global-warming measures in place. Fuel there costs more than $8 a gallon, yet even at that level, usage is still rising. As a result, few European Union nations are in compliance with their emissions-reductions targets. If $8 isn't high enough to reduce emissions there, what will it take here? In truth, nobody knows for sure how much prices would rise here if we adopted the European-style energy regulations in the Lieberman-Warner bill. But if it passes, we'll find out the hard way. […] But even assuming the worst-case scenarios of runaway warming, this bill would make little difference. Many other nations, including fast-growing China and India, are doing nothing to reduce their energy use. Thus, any efforts to force Americans to use less energy would be offset by big increases elsewhere. According to Margo Thorning, senior vice president and chief economist of the American Council for Capital Formation, Lieberman-Warner would cut global concentrations of carbon dioxide by only 4 percent below where they would otherwise be by the end of the century. Thus, at most, this bill would reduce the Earth's future temperature by a small fraction of a degree--too little to even verify that it happened. In other words, America's Climate Security Act promises lots of economic pain for almost no environmental gain. Congress has been criticized before for making things worse. But taking up a measure that would boost gas prices--only days after the most expensive Memorial Day Weekend ever? That would represent a new low. Or, considering what it would do to gas prices, should we say high?
Excerpt: Next week, the Senate will vote on the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade climate control bill. The proposed statute is a nightmare that would devastate our economy. The Wall Street Journal calls it "the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s." The EPA estimates that by 2030 it will reduce GDP by 0.9% to 3.8%, and that is based on assumptions that appear hopelessly optimistic. Even the EPA's assumptions contemplate an additional increase of 44% in the cost of electricity over what would occur without Lieberman-Warner. The Chamber of Commerce has charted the various regulations, mandates and timelines that Liberman-Warner would dictate; click to enlarge: The idea that American voters can change the Earth's climate is folly. The danger that voters could choose to cripple our economy is, however, very real.
Excerpt: A new study by international consulting firm ICF International has concluded that the pending Senate climate bill authored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) will dramatically reduce U.S. natural gas production by as much as 40 percent, according to a press release from Americans for American Energy (AAE). If passed into law, the bill would dramatically increase U.S. imports of crude oil and refined products because the cost to American refineries would be so high as to drive U.S. refining investment overseas, AAE said. The study projects tens of billions of dollars in added compliance costs for American oil and natural gas companies which are likely to transfer their investments in new oil and gas production and refining to countries with less-stringent environmental laws, should the Lieberman-Warner bill become law. “Whether or not you support the idea of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, this study shows that the U.S. will pay a very heavy price for doing so under the Lieberman-Warner bill," said Greg Schnacke, AAE President and CEO. AAE is a non-profit, grassroots educational group that works to inform the public and policymakers of the need for the United States to become energy independent. ICF International predicts that the estimated new compliance costs required to implement the Lieberman-Warner bill, expected to be heard by the U.S. Senate next month, would result in a 40 percent drop in U.S. natural gas production by 2030. In addition, estimated U.S. refinery investment could be reduced by as much as $11.5 billion per year by 2020, translating to a reduction of 3 million barrels per day of petroleum throughput. The resulting increase in American imports of foreign crude oil and refined products is estimated to rise from a 2020 level of 15 percent to 29 percent. “This bill is an energy train wreck for America,” said Schnacke. “We have the most stringent environmental laws that protect our citizens now. I don't see how it can be argued that this is an acceptable tradeoff -- cutting American energy supplies, raising energy prices and lessening our national security, in exchange for dubious environmental protection.”
Excerpt: A Senate Republican who has flirted with placing his support behind global warming legislation today detailed amendments he wants to offer when the issue reaches the floor next week.
Tennessee's Bob Corker complained that the pending bill, "America's Climate Security Act," focuses too much on creating new government programs that will cost trillions of dollars but does not take into account the consumers who presumably will face higher energy and transportation fuel costs because of the legislation. "Since day one, my goal has been to support a bill that addresses climate security and energy security in a balanced way," Corker said in a press release. "This bill is not that and, in my opinion, is not ready for prime time."
Excerpt: The cost of a gallon of gas gets all the headlines, but the natural gas that will heat many American homes next winter is going up in price as fast or faster.That fact makes the scene in the languid, alligator-infested marshland here in coastal Louisiana all the more remarkable. Only a month after Cheniere Energy inaugurated its $1.4 billion liquefied natural gas terminal here, an empty supertanker sat in its berth with no place to go while workers painted empty storage tanks. The nearly idle terminal is a monument to a stalled experiment, one that was supposed to import so much L.N.G. from around the world that homes would be heated and factories humming at bargain prices. But now L.N.G. shipments to the United States are slowing to a trickle, and Cheniere and other companies have dropped plans to build more terminals. A longstanding assumption of American energy policy has been that natural gas would be plentiful abroad, and therefore readily available for importation, as production falls off in North America, where many fields are tapped out.
Excerpt: One takeaway: Lieberman-Warner can cut a big chunk of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions without killing the economy. Estimates vary between about 0.5% of GDP and about 2% of GDP by 2030. The biggest question mark for most experts is how quickly industry can develop and deploy new clean-energy technology, like "clean coal." If clean coal doesn't materialize and the nuclear renaissance gets derailed, for example, the bill's cost to the U.S. economy will be twice as large over the next two decades, the EPA said.
Overwhelming Majority of Americans Oppose Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Proposal, New Poll Suggests – May 28, 2008
Excerpt: According to the Heritage Foundation, the Lieberman-Warner bill will produce “very little change in global temperature,” perhaps even less than .07 degrees Celsius. However, if passed, the amendment to the original bill could harm American citizens financially, said Wheeler. “The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act calls for the largest tax increase in American political history and, arguably, is the largest re-distribution of wealth ever,” Wheeler said. […] Indeed, Congressional acts such as Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act entail cutting energy sources over time, and according to Robinson these restrictions will have profound effects on the people of the world. “The currency of technological progress is energy,” he said. “When you deprive the world of energy, you deprive the world of technology, and if you deprive the world of technology, people will die.”
Excerpt: Everybody in the U.S. with a dog in the climate-change fight is shouting themselves hoarse over just how to curb emissions of greenhouse gases without stripping the gears of the economy. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s amendment to the Lieberman-Warner bill is ten times longer than the U.S. Constitution. There really is an easier way. You can implode economically, which tends to cut greenhouse-gas emissions without resorting to complicated legislative schemes. Or you can play with numbers to massage results. Or you can be like Eastern Europe and do both. Hungary is leading a charge by seven Eastern European countries who want their economic meltdown of the 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, to count as “emissions reductions” as Europe starts tallying progress on the climate front. The battle is over whether countries start cutting from 1990, like Russia, Japan, and all the other signatories of the Kyoto Protocol do, or from 2005, as Europe wants its new members to do.
Excerpt: The international fight to control climate change heads to a new arena in June when the Senate is to debate a bill that could cut total U.S. global warming emissions by 66 percent by 2050. Environmentalists are supportive but want more in the legislation, the business community questions the economic impact, and the politicians who have shepherded it seem gratified that it has managed to get this far -- even though it is unlikely to become law this year.
Excerpt: The Club for Growth says it will begin airing television and radio ads today in Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Montana opposing the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill. The ads will call on Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to vote against the legislation when the Senate considers it next. Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced the legislation in 2007 to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a program to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The Club for Growth says the bill's proposals to limit those emissions would be disastrous for the economy.
Excerpt: The Lieberman-Warner bill supposedly would cut emissions by 70% by 2050. A closer examination of cap and trade reveals the pitfalls of such a system. Even if it works perfectly, which is unlikely, it essentially amounts to a new tax on energy. In its analysis of the Lieberman-Warner bill, the Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would increase federal revenue by $1.21 trillion from 2009 to 2018—money that can best be described as a tax increase. Several studies of the cap-and-trade proposal reveal its high costs. The Heritage Foundation last week released its analysis of Lieberman-Warner, showing skyrocketing energy costs, millions of jobs lost and falling middle-class income. “The burden would be shouldered by the average American,” the study’s authors conclude. “The bill would have the same effect as a major new energy tax—only worse. Increases are set by forces beyond legislative control.” […] Manufacturing would be among the hardest hit with 2.3 million lost jobs in 2029 as a result of government-imposed changes to the economy. Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Illinois and Maryland are forecast for the biggest losses in the short term, according to the Heritage analysis.
UK’s Globe and Mail: Protests in England, France and Spain prompt politicians to question ambitious emission-control policies - May 28, 2008
Excerpt: Mr. Brown had joined other European leaders two years ago in placing targeted taxes on large vehicles, fuel, plastic bags and air travel with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, in accordance with the Kyoto agreement. Experts had said that even with these policies, that target would be difficult to meet. But European voters have begun to rebel against these measures. […] After hundreds of angry drivers shut down highways in England Tuesday in protest against green automobile taxes, and drivers and fishermen in France and Spain paralyzed their ports and roads in a fuel-tax protest, politicians began to signal Europe's ambitious emission-control policies may soon have to be abandoned. While Europe has led the way in using tax incentives to encourage people to buy low-emission cars and to build carbon-neutral houses in order to meet Kyoto targets, it has become increasingly apparent that inflation-battered voters are no longer willing to go along. Political leaders in Britain and France are seeking the reversal of tax policies designed to make polluting vehicles more expensive, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and some British ministers calling on their own governments and the European Union to relax ecologically friendly taxes in order to give relief to citizens suffering from fast-rising food and fuel prices.
Excerpt: Billions of pounds are being wasted in paying industries in developing countries to reduce climate change emissions, according to two analyses of the UN's carbon offsetting programme.
Excerpt: The United Nations will propose creating a new type of bond that could encourage renewable-energy investment. Developing countries would sell the climate bonds to investors, and the proceeds would finance carbon-cutting projects, said the U.N.'s top climate-change official, Yvo de Boer. Mature bonds could be converted into emissions credits, he said. The money generated by the bonds would depend on the greenhouse-gas limits set in climate talks due to produce a new treaty by the end of next year.
Excerpt: The Journal argues that cap-and-trade “would impose the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s,” including a huge tax increase, higher prices across-the-board, and significant losses to economic growth in the decades ahead. But why do we need a planned economy for energy or anything else? Why not a fully deregulated free market for energy where prices allocate production and consumption? And why not allow the current $130-a-barrel oil price to open the door to a full portfolio of energy resources, including offshore drilling, Alaska, nuclear power, oil shale, conversion of coal and natural gas to liquid fuel, and the development of so-called alternative-energy sources such as solar, wind, and various cellulosic investments (although this latter group may never contribute more than 10 percent to our energy needs)? A true free-market approach wouldn’t pick winners and losers with heavy subsidies or penalties. […] The coal story is so important simply because the U.S. has massively undeveloped coal resources. With 27 percent of the world’s coal reserves estimated at 270 billion tons, the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal. And yet cap-and-trade would destroy this critical sector. New coal technologies being developed right now wouldn’t even be allowed to flourish under cap-and-trade. Synthetic-fuel-developed coal, through the Fisher-Tropsch technology, is a proven gas-to-liquid process that sequesters coal carbon. It could power the American economy for generations. […] But the great risk is that cap-and-trade will stop these technologies dead in the water, right in their tracks. That would be a tragedy.
Excerpt: As the Senate gears up for a major debate on climate change the week of June 2, the National Association of Manufacturers is advocating an alternative strategy that focuses on squeezing more energy efficiency gains out of the nation's economy. NAM President John Engler said May 28 that he and representatives of his trade association have visited at least one-half of the Senate to express their opposition to cap-and-trade legislation that will be debated on the Senate floor. "This is the beginning of the debate," Engler said at a briefing on NAM's energy and climate agenda. "We welcome the debate. Our intent is to pull up a chair and have a seat at the table." The Senate is bracing for what will be a spirited debate on the leading Senate climate change bill (S. 2191) introduced in 2007 by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.).
Recently floated changes to Senate climate change legislation appear designed to bolster support for the bill among coal-state lawmakers, senators from coastal and manufacturing states, and lawmakers concerned about the economic and spending implications of the program. At the same time, longstanding divisions on Capitol Hill over controversial elements of the legislation still point to significant hurdles in winning passage, as critics attack the perceived costs of the measure and questions persist about thorny issues such as the role of nuclear energy and the interaction of the cap-and-trade plan with existing federal and state greenhouse gas regulations. Many observers also question whether the plan will come to a final vote in the Senate in June given the potential for numerous amendments on the complicated measure and concerns that the bill may exacerbate already high energy prices.
Excerpt: A carbon tax on imports is likely to pass as part of any U.S. cap-and-trade legislation, a leading climate expert said yesterday. But unless Congress also creates incentives for fast-developing countries like China and India to reduce their emissions, the measure will be divisive and ineffective, a top European Union negotiator and business leader agreed. In the international context, it's not going to play," Ned Helme, president of the Center for Clean Air Policy, said at a forum yesterday in Washington, D.C., on international competitiveness. Helme added, "In terms of a motivator for action by China and others, it's very questionable. The proposed tariff is a key part of sweeping climate change legislation proposed by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.). By imposing a tax on imports from all countries that do not have similar carbon emission caps -- like China -- lawmakers have said they hope to prevent foreign importers from gaining an unfair competitive advantage.
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