Inhofe: "We Don't Need a Climate Tax on the Poor" - Wall Street Journal
June 3, 2008
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The Wall Street Journal
We Don't Need a Climate Tax on the Poor
By JAMES INHOFE
June 3, 2008
With average gas prices across the country approaching $4 a gallon, it may be hard to believe, but the U.S. Senate is considering legislation this week that will further drive up the cost at the pump.
The Senate is debating a global warming bill that will create the largest expansion of the federal government since FDR's New Deal, complete with a brand new, unelected bureaucracy. The Lieberman-Warner bill (America's Climate Security Act) represents the largest tax increase in U.S. history and the biggest pork bill ever contemplated with trillions of dollars in giveaways. Well-heeled lobbyists are already plotting how to divide up the federal largesse. The handouts offered by the sponsors of this bill come straight from the pockets of families and workers in the form of lost jobs, higher gas, power and heating bills, and more expensive consumer goods.
Various analyses show that Lieberman-Warner would result in higher prices at the gas pump, between 41 cents and $1 per gallon by 2030. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says Lieberman-Warner would effectively raise taxes on Americans by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. The federal Energy Information Administration says the bill would result in a 9.5% drop in manufacturing output and higher energy costs.
Carbon caps will have an especially harmful impact on low-income Americans and those with fixed incomes. A recent CBO report found: "Most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households."
The poor already face energy costs as a much higher percentage of their income than wealthier Americans. While most Americans spend about 4% of their monthly budget on heating their homes or other energy needs, the poorest fifth of Americans spend 19%. A 2006 survey of Colorado homeless families with children found that high energy bills were cited as one of the two main reasons they became homeless.
Lieberman-Warner will also hinder U.S. competitiveness, transferring American jobs overseas to places where environmental regulations are much more lenient. Instead of working to eliminate trade barriers on clean energy and lower emitting technologies, the bill imposes a "green," tariff-style tax on imported goods. This could provoke international retaliatory actions by our trade partners, threatening our own export markets and further driving up the costs of consumer goods.
My colleague, Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), warned last week that Lieberman-Warner "could result in the most massive bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of Americans since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service." Mandating burdensome new layers of federal bureaucracy is not the solution to America's energy challenges.
This bill is ultimately about certainty. We are certain of the huge negative impact on the economy as detailed by numerous government and private analyses. We are certain of the massive expansion of the federal bureaucracy.
And we are certain the bill will not have a detectable impact on the climate. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's own analysis, by 2050 Lieberman-Warner would only lower global CO2 concentrations by less than 1.4% without additional international action. In fact, this bill, often touted as an "insurance policy" against global warming, is instead all economic pain for no climate gain.
Why are many in Washington proposing a bill that will do so much economic harm? The answer is simple. The American people are being asked to pay significantly more for energy merely so some lawmakers in Washington can say they did something about global warming.
I have been battling global warming alarmism since 2003, when I became chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. It has been a lonely battle at times, but it now appears that many of my colleagues are waking up to the reality of cap-and-trade legislation.
The better way forward is an energy policy that emphasizes technology and includes developing nations such as China and India. Tomorrow's energy mix must include more natural gas, wind and geothermal, but it must also include oil, coal and nuclear power, which is the world's largest source of emission-free energy. Developing and expanding domestic energy sources will translate into energy security and ensure stable supplies and well-paying jobs for Americans.
Let me end with a challenge to my colleagues. Will you dare stand on the Senate floor in these uncertain economic times and vote in favor of significantly increasing the price of gas at the pump, losing millions of American jobs, creating a huge new bureaucracy and raising taxes by record amounts? The American people deserve and expect a full debate on this legislation.
Mr. Inhofe, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, is ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Read More About the Impacts of Lieberman-Warner: www.epw.senate.gov/lieberman-warnerbillexposed