Yes, Even Sanford

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on October 7, 2008

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

You've got to wonder if there's any room for climate sanity left in governance and politics if a man recognized as one of the most conservative governors in America has bought into global warming alarmism. That's what has happened with Gov. Mark Sanford in South Carolina, who last year created the Climate, Energy, and Commerce Advisory Committee to gin up some plans (extracted from the ideas of the Center for Climate Strategies) to cut down on carbon emissions in the state. You might think that Sanford did so as a political nod to the environmentalists in his state, but his executive order (PDF) that created CECAC reflected a passionate tone:

For the last twenty years of my life, I have seen the ever-so-gradual effects of rising ocean levels at our farm in Beaufort County. In some cases, it's been watching pine trees die in that fragile zone between uplands and salt marsh; in other cases it's meant finding roots in areas that would never grow a tree, given the current salt water levels. While I understand very clearly the debate on whether or not these events come as a result of man's activity — or just the effects of nature taking its course – I've had other personal experiences that strongly suggest to me that man is having an impact on the environment. The last time I was in Beijing on a trade trip, we happened to be there on a bad smog day. When I went outside I could see no more than a quarter of a mile and my eyes watered.

Man is quite clearly having an impact in that part of the world, and while it's been my longtime belief as a conservative that I should exercise as many rights and freedoms as possible, those rights and freedoms end when they begin to infringe upon the rights of others.

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago when CECAC released its final report, which included 51 policy recommendations to reduce greenhouse gases in South Carolina. Here's what Sanford had to say:

“Some of these recommendations will make a whole lot of sense for South Carolina and others won’t. But we believe this report is an excellent place to begin the conversation and debate – and it is our sincere hope that many of these findings will be implemented in South Carolina.”

The governor's press release added that with the CECAC process he hoped South Carolina "could begin to act on those issues on its own, before being saddled with costly future mandates from Washington, D.C." — as if any state could avoid that burden. As for CCS/CECAC's assertions about its final recommendations, they claim to have done an economic analysis of 33 of its 51 proposals and found that if implemented they would cost approximately $1.6 billion by the year 2020. This is a big change from the kinds of economic claims CCS used to make with commissions in other states, when they would boast that their ideas would produce net gains in state economies (billions of dollars)  and net increases in jobs (hundreds of thousands). They don't do that so much any more. As for the other 18 recommendations they don't quantify, well, I guess they don't want to make it appear the state will be that bad off because of carbon mitigation measures.

Still, it appears that even those numbers in the Palmetto State are short in their estimations, and thank God for the South Carolina Policy Council and the Beacon Hill Institute for bringing some reality to the discussion. The upshot:

Economic analysis of the Climate, Energy and Commerce Advisory Committee (CECAC) report would cost taxpayers billions of dollars while offering a negligible environmental benefit, according to the Policy Council study performed by economists at the Beacon Hill Institute. The Center for Climate Strategies, authors of the CECAC report, propose tax increases and heavier regulations on businesses.

Findings from the study:

-CECAC recommendations would cost South Carolina taxpayers $11.9 billion between 2008 and 2020.
-In 2009 the recommendations would cost the state 13,542 jobs.
-In 2009 private investment would drop by $204 million
-In 2009 the average South Carolina family would incur a direct cost of $1,836.
-Projected global emissions for 2025 would be reduced just 0.012 percent.

And Gov. Sanford thinks this "is an excellent place to begin the conversation and debate?"

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