It's Really About Controlling Our Lives

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"Low carbon
fuel standards" mean higher costs, few environmental benefits
and less liberty

Within days,
Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to bring sweeping energy and
climate legislation to the Senate floor. He won’t call it cap-and-trade
or cap-tax-and-trade, and certainly not a carbon tax.

words are not in my vocabulary," he says. "We’re going
to work on pollution."

Senator Reid’s
twenty-pound bill will be laden with lofty language about "clean
energy," energy conservation, "green jobs," reducing
"dangerous" power plant emissions, ending our "addiction"
to oil, creating a renewable economy, and saving the planet from
"imminent climate disaster."

euphemisms aside, however, the legislation is really about imposing
national "low carbon fuel standards" (LCFS) and forcing
dramatic reductions in the use of oil, natural gas and especially
coal. It would expand on existing laws, regulations and decrees,
like the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that carbon dioxide
somehow "endangers human health and welfare," EPA’s June
30 invalidation of flexible air quality permits for Texas refineries,
Interior Secretary Salazar’s offshore drilling moratorium, multiple
state and federal renewable energy standards and mandates, and various
state and regional "greenhouse gas initiatives" that restrict
emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.

The EPA, Energy
Information Administration, White House and Mr. Reid insist that
America can easily limit hydrocarbon use and switch to "eco-friendly"
wind, solar and biofuel energy – at low cost and minimal harm
to families, businesses and jobs. However, their self-serving, other-planet
claims are flatly contradicted by a host of studies by reputable
analysts with a solid history of integrity and accuracy.

The most recent
is a June 17 report by Charles River Associates, examining the "Economic
and Energy Impacts Resulting from a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard."
Prepared for the Consumer Energy Alliance, the study looked only
at transportation fuels. (Including coal for electricity generation
and other uses would dramatically increase its cost estimates.)
Nevertheless, the study found that national standards implemented
in 2015 would:

  • Increase
    average gasoline and diesel prices by up to 80% in five years,
    and 170% within ten years – sending regular gasoline prices
    soaring to nearly $5 per gallon by 2020 and $7.50 per gallon by
    2025 (assuming other international price pressures remain unchanged);
  • Spur sharp
    cost increases for petrochemicals in plastics, pharmaceuticals
    and other vital products;

  • Reduce
    employment and consumer demand significantly, by increasing the
    cost of transporting people, equipment, supplies, raw materials,
    food and finished products – for work, school, healthcare,
    business, manufacturing, vacation and other purposes;
  • Cut business
    investment by $200–320 billion annually, compared to the no-LCFS
  • Slash gross
    domestic product by $410–750 billion annually by 2025;
  • Cost 2.3
    million to 4.5 million American jobs, including up to 1.5 million
    in manufacturing and 3.0 million in the service sector; and
  • Force household
    purchasing power downward by $1,400 to $2,400 for a family of
    four by 2025 – impacting minority, elderly and other low
    and fixed income families worst of all.

None of this
should be surprising. As President Obama himself has said, the very
purpose of energy and climate policies like LCFS is to ensure that
prices "necessarily skyrocket." It is to force people
to use less fuel, compel companies to change power generation and
use practices, drive coal companies and utilities out of business,
and force the development of new fuels and technologies that may
or may not work.

the rest of the article

31, 2010

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