June 2009

Like a snowball that gains momentum down a steep hillside, the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security Act (a.k.a “energy tax”) keeps getting bigger and fatter and more dangerous as it works its way through the Democratic caucus to a vote before the full House by the end of the week.

Consider: In only the past seven days, the text of the bill has grown by 300 pages!

Part of the added girth comes from powerful committees that have partial jurisdiction over the bill, and their input has been uniformly awful.

Originally, the Clean Energy and Security Act was designed to tax energy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions thought to cause so-called global warming, but Democrats on the Agriculture Committee negotiated pro-ethanol provisions into the legislation, which made a bad bill worse. By forcing Americans to use ever more corn-fuel in their gas tanks, the Congress raises grocery bills (by increasing the price of food) and gives drivers more pain at the pump (ethanol is more expensive that gas). So now Americans face the prospect of an energy tax for so-called global warming, plus an ethanol tax on food and fuel, all in the same bill.

The bill is likely to become even more harmful when the Ways and Means Committee weighs in. The members of that influential Committee want to add language that would force the President to impose carbon tariffs on imports from developing countries such as China and India. They would undoubtedly retaliate with tariffs on imports from American manufacturers. History informs us that a trade war would inflict severe damage on a global economy that is already ailing.

Many of the added pages to the Clean Energy and Security Act result from the House leadership’s aggressive push to buy off members of the Democratic Party with the hundreds of billions of dollars in energy taxes that the federal government would reap from the cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme in the legislation. It’s politically dangerous for many Democratic moderates to vote for an energy tax, so leadership has to make it worth their while. These giveaways and favors, of course, come at the expense of American taxpayer.

And the bill continues to grow, because House leadership still hasn’t accumulated enough votes to pass the bill. There are more people to buy off, more pages to write, and more money to take from Americans.

That is, according to a poll of blacks by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Some findings per NCPPR’s press release:

The poll, released today, suggests anxiety in the black community over Waxman-Markey-style regulations.

The survey of 800 African-Americans included 640 self-identified Democrats (80%) and 32 Republicans (4%).

Among the poll’s key findings:

* 76% of African-Americans want Congress to make economic recovery its top priority, even if it delays action on climate change;

* 38% believe job losses resulting from climate change legislation would fall heaviest on the African-American community.  Only 7% believe job losses would fall heaviest on Hispanics and only 2% believe they would fall heaviest on whites;

* 56% believe Washington policymakers have failed to adequately take into account the economic and quality of life concerns of the African-American community when formulating climate change policy;

* 52% of respondents aren’t willing pay anything more for either gasoline or electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  73% are unwilling to pay more than 50 cents more for a gallon of gas and 76% are unwilling to pay more than $50 more per year for electricity to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions;

* African-Americans are virtually deadlocked on whether to proceed with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if doing so increases consumer prices and unemployment.

As NCPPR vice president (and my friend) David Ridenour says, “If concern about a Waxman-Markey-style climate change bill is running this high among group of predominantly Obama voters, it’s bound to be much higher among the general population….If Speaker Pelosi ignores these signs of discontent within her party’s base, she does so at her own peril.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute today charged that a senior official of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency actively suppressed a scientific analysis of climate change because of political pressure to support the Administration’s policy agenda of regulating carbon dioxide.

As part of a just-ended public comment period, CEI submitted a set of four EPA emails, dated March 12-17, 2009, which indicate that a significant internal critique of the agency’s global warming position was put under wraps and concealed.

The study the emails refer to, which ran counter to the administration’s views on carbon dioxide and climate change, was kept from circulating within the agency, was never disclosed to the public, and was not added to the body of materials relevant to EPA’s current “endangerment” proceeding. The emails further show that the study was treated in this manner not because of any problem with its quality, but for political reasons.

“This suppression of valid science for political reasons is beyond belief,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “EPA’s conduct is even more outlandish because it flies in the face of the President’s widely-touted claim that ‘the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.'”

CEI’s filing requests that EPA make the suppressed study public, place it into the endangerment docket, and extend the comment period to allow public response to the new information. CEI is also requesting that EPA publicly declare that it will engage in no reprisals against the study’s author, a senior analyst who has worked at EPA for over 35 years.

Yesterday, I announced “It’s on!,” in reference to the upcoming battle on the floor of the House of Representatives over a humongous energy tax co-written by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), the Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), the Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Security and Global Warming. The bill they wrote, the Clean Energy and Security Act,  is a Frankenstein-like patchwork of anti-energy and energy rationing measures designed to make energy more expensive and less reliable, which is why Waxman had a heck of a time getting the bill out of his own Committee last month. In fact, he had to buy off moderate Committee members from his own party, one by one, with the hundreds of billions of dollars that the federal government would tax American energy consumers over the life of the legislation.

Moving it out of his own Committee was a slow process, and earlier this week, few observers thought that Waxman had the time to buy off all the moderate members of the majority party caucus before the July 4th vacation. But two nights ago, House leadership took the procedural steps to put the energy tax before the full House for vote by Friday.

As of yesterday afternoon, the bill’s passage still seemed uncertain, because almost all Republicans were lined up against it, and a band of moderate and rural Democrats, perhaps as many as 45, had expressed a variety of misgivings and were negotiating with Waxman through Rep Colin Peterson (D-Minnesota), the powerful Chairman of the House Ag Committee. Waxman and the House leadership need 218 votes to pass the anti-energy bill, so it was far from certain that they had the numbers.

That changed last night, when Waxman and Peterson reached a deal, according to E&E News (Subscription required). It wasn’t a very even transaction: Waxman caved, and Peterson won everything he wanted. The terms of the deal are wonkinsh but the take-home points are simple-farmers get regulatory support for ethanol (which raises our food bills and increases the price of our gas), farmers will get paid to grow nothing (because doing nothing has low carbon footprint), and Waxman gets the votes for his bill (which will raise the price of everything made from energy, which is everything).

After round 1, our side (i.e., supporters of affordable energy and opponents of energy rationing) is wobbly. YET THERE IS STILL HOPE! For moderates in the majority party, this bill is a career-killer. Just because Waxman has bought the agribusiness special interests, doesn’t mean there isn’t within the majority party a silent minority that is terrified of the electoral consequences of voting for a bill that hurts all American consumers and all American businesses.

Word has it that the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade/energy tax bill is finally hitting the floor of the House, probably this Friday. CEI is decidedly in the “anti” camp. To that end, we released a statement this morning by Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy Myron Ebell on the legislation and its potential impacts:

Waxman-Markey is a 1,201-page economic suicide note. Those Members of the House who vote for it are voting for long-term economic decline and for turning the United States into a second-rate economy.

Take that, Henry and Ed! But there’s more. Yesterday The Hill published an op-ed on cap and trade by Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy and a member of CEI’s advisory council:

Perhaps the most destructive legislation in our country’s history will soon be voted on in the House — the Waxman-Markey tax bill in the guise of addressing climate change. It will have dire consequences for every American. It will raise the cost of energy with little or no environmental benefit. Independent experts estimate that it will cost Americans more than $2 trillion in just over eight years.

CEI and the Cooler Heads Coalition were also mentioned in a story on the Waxman-Markey bill (”Lobbying Frenzy Begins as House Climate Bill Heads for Floor”) by Greenwire reporter Darren Samuelsohn which was republished online by the New York Times:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to bring a major climate and energy measure to the floor Friday has prompted a whirlwind of lobbying.


Opponents are also readying themselves for the floor battle, with the Cooler Heads Coalition, an ad hoc group of scientific skeptics and legislative critics, planning a special meeting today to organize for the vote. “It’s gonna be fun,” Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote in an e-mail announcing the meeting.

That’s CEI for you – we’re merry warriors for freedom. More links and background info below.

6/23/09 –Did the CBO Underestimate the Cost of the Waxman-Markey Energy Tax? by William Yeatman

6/9/09 – Behind the Cap and Trade Curtain by Max Schulz (Manhattan Institute)

6/1/09 – Corporate Welfare on a Vast Scale: Obama’s Cap-and-Trade Scam Threatens Economy by Hans Bader

5/7/09 – CEI Sponsors Anti-Climate Tax Pledge by William Yeatman

5/5/09 – Chris Horner on the White House Energy Summit [TV interview]

4/23/09 – CEI Expert Warns Aginst Central Planning in Testimony Against Cap and Trade, by Kevin Mooney

4/22/09 – Testimony Before the Committee on Energy and Commerce by Myron Ebell

4/6/09 – Myron Ebell on Cap and Trade [TV interview]

3/24/09 – $2 Trillion Tax from Obama: Hidden Costs of “Cap-and-Trade” Scheme by Hans Bader

Before the House of Representatives votes on the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security bill (a.k.a, the “biggest tax increase in the history of mankind”), members of Congress should know how much the legislation would cost American consumers in the form of higher energy prices. To that end, the Congressional Budget Office recently “scored” the Waxman-Markey energy tax, and it found that the bill would cost a seemingly affordable $175 per household. The green lobby rejoiced-this was just the “proof” it needed to convince legislators wary of a voting for a politically dangerous tax hike.

But is the CBO’s figure reliable? According to the Heritage Foundation, the Congress is getting conned by the CBO, which “grossly” underestimated the costs of the Waxman-Markey energy tax.

Click here, for a post by Heritage scholars that explains why the CBO’s estimate of the Waxman-Markey energy tax is far too conservative.

Check out this great letter to The Hill, on how the stakes for the Waxman-Markey energy tax couldn’t be any higher, from a gentleman who fights on the front lines against this awful legislation.

(From The Hill)
Perhaps the most destructive legislation in our country’s history will soon be voted on in the House – the Waxman-Markey tax bill in the guise of addressing climate change. It will have dire consequences for every American. It will raise the cost of energy with little or no environmental benefit. Independent experts estimate that it will cost Americans more than $2 trillion in just over eight years.

The Midwest, South and Rocky Mountain regions will be most drastically affected because the climate change legislation will destroy the nation’s coal industry and the availability of low-cost electricity. Wealth will be transferred away from almost every state to the West Coast and New England.

The most abundant and by far least-expensive energy source in our country for generating electricity is coal. America’s coal reserves rival the energy potential of Saudi Arabian oil. Unfortunately, the proposed climate change legislation in the House forces America to throw away this tremendous resource, and our low-cost electricity with it.

The Waxman-Markey bill sets an unattainable cap on carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, with the first reductions due by 2012. Under the program, businesses that emit carbon dioxide would be required to purchase or obtain from the government special carbon dioxide credits. This carbon dioxide cap will force utilities to switch from lower-cost coal to natural gas or other, more expensive energy sources. Reliable estimates show this bill will increase the cost of energy for each American family by at least $3,000 each year, notwithstanding the $2 trillion cost to the economy in just eight years.

The supporters of this misguided legislation point to two provisions that they claim will help coal. The first is that they give electric utilities free credits. However, those credits are worth millions of dollars, and the utilities will be free to sell the credits and use the proceeds to build more expensive natural gas or nuclear power plants, and not use our lowest-cost fuel – coal. Second, the authors of the legislation invest money in carbon capture and storage technology, claiming that this will save jobs. But, this technology will not be commercially available for at least 15 to 20 years, long after the reductions are required in 2012 – and long after our coal plants are shut down and our manufacturing jobs are exported to China, India and other countries.

It is not too late to tell Congress to kill this flawed bill. Everyone should call their congressional representatives and ask them to vote no on the Waxman-Markey climate bill and to support affordable energy, American jobs and our quality of life.

By Robert E. Murray, chairman, president and CEO, Murray Energy Corp.
Pepper Pike, Ohio

It’s On!

In an unexpected move, House leadership last night took the procedural steps to hold a vote on the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security Act by the end of the week.

The bill is designed to make energy more expensive, so it has engendered opposition from politicians that want to keep their jobs. Last month, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) passed the legislation out of the Energy and Commerce Committee he chairs only after buying off moderate democrats, one by one, with the federal proceeds from the energy tax (up to $2 trillion from 2012-2020, according to an official in President Barack Obama’s administration). In this fashion, for the last three weeks, Waxman has been trying to buy enough support in the Democratic caucus to pass the bill in the House.

These negotiations have been slow and difficult, which is why everyone, myself included, had assumed that this expensive energy bill would fail to come to the House floor for a vote before July 4th-the leadership’s self-imposed deadline.

Last night, however, House leadership submitted the bill to the Rules Committee for guidelines to structure the debate on the floor, which paves the way for a vote by Friday on the 1,000+ page Waxman Markey expensive energy bill.

According to E&E News (subscription required), House leadership intends to severely limit debate on the bill, presumably to avoid having vulnerable members of the Democratic make politically sensitive votes on amendments offered by Republicans. That’s a pity for anyone who buys into Obama’s “change” theme, because leadership had promised unfettered debate when it rode into power in 2006.

In a perfect world, Waxman fails to buy enough support for this energy tax and it dies a spectacular, front-page death. As of this morning, it’s unclear whether he’s collected enough voted for critical mass. With hope, there are enough responsible Congressmen to sink this trillion dollar energy tax before it has a chance to ruin the American economy.


The deadline for the public comment period on the EPA’s proposed finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare is June 23rd. You may submit comments here.

In the News

The Big Chill
Pete Du Pont, Wall Street Journal, 19 June 2009

Scared Silly by Global Warming Alarmism
Bjorn Lomborg, The Korea Times, 19 June 2009

Commandeered by Climate Alarmists
Paul Chesser, American Spectator, 19 June 2009

California Unions Muscle in on Green Jobs
Todd Woody, New York Times, 18 June 2009

Map: How Much Will Waxman-Markey Cost Your State?
Chris Horner, Planet Gore, 18 June 2009

Reasons To Distrust Your Government
Alan Caruba, Warning Signs, 18 June 2009

Utilities Could Cash in on Climate Bill
Andy Stone & Jonathan Fahey, Forbes, 17 June 2009

Global Warming Bill Is a Job Killer
Investor’s Business Daily editorial, 17 June 2009

Waxman-Markey: A Dog That Won’t Hunt
Robert Murphy, MasterResource.org, 17 June 2009

Obama Ressurrects Illinois Green Energy Boondoggle
Tim Carney, Washington Examiner, 17 June 2009

Ethanol vs. Enviros
William Yeatman & Jeremy Lott, American Spectator, 17 June 2009

Global Cooling
Colorado Springs Gazette editorial, 16 June 2009

Breaking Down the Cost of Waxman-Markey Energy Rationing Bill
Nick Loris, The Foundry, 15 June 2009

News You Can Use

Rasmussen Poll: Voters Want More Energy

According to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, voters believe that finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume by a 60% to 32% margin.

Inside the Beltway

Myron Ebell

Update on Waxman-Markey Energy Rationing Bill

The Waxman-Markey energy-rationing bill may come to the House floor next week. Or it may not.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Representative Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, are still negotiating with a farm-state faction led by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, to gain enough votes to pass the bill. Press reports suggest that they are further from making a deal today than a couple days ago.  That may be true, but at this point comments from Waxman, Pelosi, and Peterson may not accurately reflect the state of their negotiations. It’s a poker game now. As I write, Roll Call and E and E News PM both report that floor action is unlikely next week because the deal isn’t done yet.  But maybe it will be over the weekend or on Monday.

The National Rural Electric Co-operative Association is also raising a fuss since they discovered that they weren’t close enough to the trough when the free ration coupons were handed out. It has been reported that NRECA may drop their potential opposition to the bill if the co-operatives are given 1% of the coupons. It’s not much, but it may be enough for the president of NRECA, Glenn English, to quiet down his members. English is a former Democratic Congressman from Oklahoma. Former Members promote themselves on the basis of the access they have to their former colleagues. However, it is my experience that access is often a liability. It seems to me that English is so eager to agree to a deal with Waxman and Pelosi because if he doesn’t their doors will be closed the next time he stops by.

Focus Groups: Public Is Not Buying “Green Jobs” Nonsense

As Waxman-Markey inches closer to passage by the House, a memo has surfaced in the press that reports that the public isn’t buying global warming or cap-and-trade legislation.  According to the results of “a set of 12 focus groups with swing voters in six states,” Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Third Way (a “progressive” public policy group) advise that the public are eager for dramatic change in energy policy, but that they “are not yet engaged on the issue and are susceptible to the argument that the progressive policy proposal [that is, cap-and-trade] amounts to a big energy tax.”  Well, yes, people are susceptible to that argument because cap-and-trade does amount to a big energy tax on them.

So how to sell this big energy tax?  The memo advises less emphasis on global warming and green jobs and more on clean energy.  They suggest the slogan, Get America running on clean energy.  That’s what worked with the focus groups.  My slogan is, It’s a tax!  We’ll see which one is more effective.

The Government’s Winners and Losers

Julie Walsh

Government subsidies, tariffs, and special treatment for certain industries make an uneven playing field for competing energy options for consumers. This creates winners and losers based on the government’s favors. The government’s track record picking winners and losers hasn’t been good.

Winners: Wind and Solar

Wind and solar energy have been receiving government subsidies since the ’70s, currently now at the rate of $23 per megawatt hour. Coal-fired power only costs around $25 per megawatt hour and receives a 44 cent per megawatt hour subsidy.

Loser:  Thorium energy

Proponents of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors believe they can provide energy cheaper than from coal. And there are enough thorium reserves to power the world for centuries. A thorium reactor produces less than 1% of the radioactive waste of today’s nuclear power plants and can even consume the existing nuclear waste. In the 1990s the Megatons to Megawatts program spent millions of dollars to develop this design under a federal grant to a private company that did most of its research in Russia in order to keep former Soviet scientists busy so that they wouldn’t be forced to sell their expertise to terrorists.

The Science

Dr. Doom Unveils Doomsday Report

On June 17, the U. S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released a report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.”  The report was prepared by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is headed by Dr. John P. Holdren, a doomsday theorist who once suggested that climate change will kill a billion people by 2020. As such, it’s unsurprising that the report is as alarming as it is flawed.

The first key finding of the report is, “Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.”  Yet global temperatures have not increased statistically since 1995, despite a steady increase in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (the supposed cause of so-called global warming), so it’s hard to see how global warming is “unequivocal.”

Many projections made by the report depend upon climate models that have no skill in regional forecasting. Many scientists agree that the models currently have no predictive ability on the regional scale, and therefore should not be relied upon for policy decisions.

Across the States

California Renewable Requirement=Expensive Energy

E&E News (subscription required) reported this week on a new study from the California Public Utilities Commission showing that utility bills for California homes will increase by 24% under a requirement that renewable energy sources generate a third of the Golden State’s electricity by 2020. The Waxman-Markey energy rationing bill would require the nation’s electric utilities to use at least 20% renewable power by 2020.

Last month we heard from the New York Times about the poll testing by the firm ecoAmerica that found the term “global warming” is no longer useful or scary enough for alarmists to use:

The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is “global warming.”

The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.

Now comes the Washington Times today with another report from Democratic advisers who confirm ecoAmerica’s findings, and suggest that other terms being used to push a cap-and-trade emissions reduction scheme are hurting their cause also:

House Democrats neared a deal Thursday on a bill to combat global warming, but a top party strategist warned that to sell any plan to voters they’ll need to change the way they pitch it — including curbing the use of the term “green” jobs and even talk of “global warming.”

In a strategy memo, Democratic think tank Third Way and top party strategist Stanley Greenberg warned Democrats that swing voters don’t care about fighting global warming, and said terms like “cap-and-trade” are useless. Instead, the memo suggests that Democrats tap into Americans’ optimism that clean energy can help improve the faltering economy.

“For most voters, global warming is not significant enough on its own to drive support for major energy reform,” the memo says. “So while it can be part of the story that reform advocates are telling, global warming should be used only in addition to the broader economic frame, not in place of it….”

But the strategists, in their memo, said the term “cap-and-trade” is “worse than meaningless” and is unfavorable to voters. Instead, Third Way and Mr. Greenberg’s firm argue for terms like “clean energy” and for branding the push against global warming under a new slogan of “Get America running on clean energy.”

What a farce. These clowns won Oscars and Grammys based on “global warming”; they pushed “cap-and-trade” because they said it promoted a “market-based” reduction plan; and they embraced “green” jobs because it implied the best of both worlds — high employment and a clean energy economy.

Now that they’ve captured all the government power, the terms they used to win their trophies are — as I wrote last month — a giant boat anchor. They can’t lie with the old terms any more so they have to make up new ones. And like the phony language they use, their cap-and-trade plan is also “worse than meaningless” — it’s destructive.

Cross-posted at American Spectator.