Moving out smartly on dealing with climate change has huge benefits from creating jobs, to improving health situations, to improving national security, to so many other things that it almost doesn’t even take the implications of catastrophic climate change to drive thoughtful people to the conclusion that energy efficiency and renewable energy are the path to go. Yet, as John Podesta put it forcefully the other day, “Let me remind you, the cost of doing nothing is far more expensive than doing something.”
Sadly, there are those who are rejecting sensible discussion and, finding themselves on such shaky ground, can only resort to deceptions and outright deceit. Republican talking points on the “cost” of climate action are exactly that: outright deceit. They refuse to speak to benefits, only to costs. The situation has gone to such an extreme that an author of a study that the Republicans are citing, Professor John Reilly, MIT, has written a letter essentially pleading for the Republicans to end their falsehoods. Republicans are ranting and raving, to anyone who will listen (and, sadly, there are too many) that Cap & Trade will cost $3100+/year per family, citing Reilly’s work as the basis for comments. Reilly’s actual estimate: about 20 cents per day (rather than near $10/day) per family or $79/year. Despite this direct rejection, the Republicans won’t stop.
The Majority Staff of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has produced a brief analysis of “Republican and Energy Distortions: “Wrong in so many ways.””
The Republican campaign to kill clean energy legislation uses the names of respected organizations like the Congressional Budget Office and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then distorts their trusted analyses. It takes the gloom and doom predictions from industry-hired consultants like Charles River Associates to prey on fears of hard-working Americans over the future of our economy.
And while the Republicans are offering no real alternatives, this energy misinformation campaign assumes that no actual benefits will result from moving to a clean, energy efficient future or from reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. It assumes American ingenuity and technological innovation are dead. It depends on recycling all the stale arguments and policies that have led to America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil and harmed our national security.
At least one Democratic member of Congress, Representative Earl Blumenauer has simply had enough of this deception. He directly challenged the Republican deception on the floor of the House:
“This is a canard and ought to be rejected …”
This is two minutes worth the watch.
Earl is not alone in his outrage. Even Republicans are getting disgusted with this deceit. The “Republicans for Environmental Protection” issued a press release calling on Republicans to abide by more honest economic analysis and state that Republican tactics are “a disservice to Americans”.
Such tactics, which are designed to score political points and gain headlines, are a disservice to American citizens, who urgently need Congress to debate the climate issue constructively.
Follow after the fold for the full memo.
‘Energy Tax’ Rhetoric Ill Serves Debate on Climate Legislation
Republican members of Congress have taken to calling cap-and-trade legislation an “energy tax” or a “light switch tax” on American families and businesses.
Most recently, congressional Republicans misrepresented a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study analyzing cap-and-trade proposals. They distorted the study’s conclusions to exaggerate the costs of cap-and-trade legislation on individual households, by making faulty calculations based on erroneous assumptions and by ignoring a basic principle of economics – the time value of money.
Conservatives, of all people, should not ignore basic principles of economics.
Such tactics, which are designed to score political points and gain headlines, are a disservice to American citizens, who urgently need Congress to debate the climate issue constructively. Voters are counting on their elected representatives to work together across party lines to develop balanced legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower America’s dangerous dependence on oil, and help us move more quickly to a more diversified, robust energy economy.
The scientific evidence for a human role in climate change is compelling enough to warrant prudent measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many religious leaders and business executives agree. An ethic of traditional conservatism is to exercise proper stewardship over the environment that supports our economy and to reduce risks of environmental harm.
A cap-and-trade bill, or competing alternatives such as cap-and-dividend or carbon tax measures, would take the fundamental step of putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions, thus sending a signal that CO2 emissions carry a cost and free disposal in the atmosphere is no longer appropriate.
Environmental legislation works to reduce harmful emissions by putting a price on those emissions, either directly or more commonly, by limiting their disposal into the environment. The Clean Air Act put a price on sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other harmful air pollutants. The Clean Water Act put a price on sewage, hazardous chemical wastes, and other types of water pollution.
Few except special interests and politicians who do their bidding would argue that limiting emissions that put human health and the environment at risk puts a burdensome “tax” on American families and businesses.
And even if lawmakers are sincerely doubtful about the human role in climate change, there are sound reasons for reducing fossil fuel dependence anyway. Our heavy dependence on oil is a strategic liability. It’s only a matter of time before oil prices spike upward again. A large share of remaining global oil reserves is located in politically unstable parts of the world. Sticking to an energy path of high oil dependence will leave the U.S. chronically vulnerable to overseas political turmoil over which our country has little control.
The recent Republican tactics to fight climate legislation show a dangerous unwillingness to learn the right lessons from the election debacles of 2006 and 2008. A refusal to face facts, acknowledge risks, and make responsible policy choices for the greater good is not conservative. It is reckless endangerment of our country and it must stop.