There's no other way to describe the House of Representatives passing the Waxman-Markey Bill. And if the Senate passes it, there will be a lot of Senators out of work the next time they come up for re-election...
Waxman's Economy Killer
by Steven Milloy
The House of Representatives will vote Friday on the so-called “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” -- a.k.a the “Waxman-Markey” global warming bill. But whatever you want to call this legislative atrocity, if enacted into law, it will go down in history as the death knell of the American standard of living and way of life. If you hate America, this bill is for you.
After decades of fierce battling between rabid greens -- that is, left-wingers masquerading as “environmentalists” -- and the global warming skeptics, few Americans seem to have bought into the bill’s premise that manmade emissions of carbon dioxide are causing the planet to run a fever, as Al Gore is fond of saying. Just this week, a public relations firm advising House Democrats recommended that the notion of “global warming” be dropped as a primary message since “almost no one in our focus groups expressed such concern.”
So despite all the frantic global warming alarmism and the vicious smears of skeptics by Gore and his fanatic green activists (they liken skeptics to Holocaust-deniers and many in the media repeat the smear) -- the out-manned and out-gunned skeptics have largely succeeded in being heard by Americans and in changing their minds.
Yet that is not stopping House Democrats who are under pressure not only from the greens who see the bill as the best way to advance their political agenda (Marxist? Socialist? Venezuelan?), but also big businesses who have given up on capitalism in favor of federal laws requiring that taxpayers and consumers pay through the nose for products and services they don’t need or want.
What would Waxman-Markey mean to you? It starts with much higher cost of living, less personal freedom and a less comfortable, convenient, dignified and hopeful existence.Waxman-Markey is fundamentally anti-economic growth in nature. If you don’t yet grasp the significance of national economic growth, just look around at the recession we and the rest of the world are now enduring. Waxman-Markey would be a permanent clampdown on economic growth. The bill does this by making energy, the life blood of our economy, much more expensive and scarce.
Waxman-Markey will add $9 trillion in costs to the production of energy between 2012 and 2050 -- that works out to almost $800 per American per year for the next 38 years. Those are just the direct costs imposed by the bill’s cap-and-trade regime. These costs will ripple throughout the American economy -- everyone uses energy -- making all goods and services more expensive.
Electric utilities will be required to produce 20 percent of their power through so-called “renewable” energy sources, like wind and solar, by 2020. But such technology is incredibly expensive and requires heavy taxpayer subsidies -- 100 times greater than for fossil fuels. At the scale required by Waxman-Markey, such energy is more imaginary than renewable.Worse than the increased cost of energy, perhaps, is that the Waxman-Markey bill will essentially result in artificial limits on electricity production and, ultimately, electricity rationing. The bill will create a permanent energy crisis.
In addition to the limits imposed by the renewable energy requirement, Waxman-Markey essentially phases out coal-generated electricity (50% of our current supply) while failing to guarantee the construction of the only realistic substitute for coal -- nuclear power. In the end, what we’ll have is an energy grid constrained by the supply of natural gas -- much of which will have to be imported. Even so, there’s simply not enough natural gas to affordably meet all our energy needs, so supplies will have to be rationed somehow.
Waxman-Markey tries to head-off the path to rationing by requiring that everything from cars to new buildings to appliances become dramatically more energy efficient. This may sound good, but it’s a fool’s errand that can only end in higher prices for inferior products. The only way to make cars get better gas mileage is to shrink them, making them more dangerous, less useful and less comfortable. New buildings will have to be more 50% more efficient by 2016; if it can be done, it will be very, perhaps prohibitively, expensive. All of this ignores the fact that, since the 1970s and despite all out leaps forward in technology, we’ve only increased energy efficiency on a societal basis by about 7% or so, according to the Congressional Research Service.
What will you get for all the pain associated with Waxman-Markey? The bill will not improve the environment one iota. For those who insist that carbon dioxide emissions are somehow bad for the climate, even if the U.S. cuts its emissions as prescribed by Waxman-Markey, China, India and other developing countries will not cut their emissions as they refuse to sacrifice vital economic growth. If you plug this scenario into the existing climate models, their gloom-and-doom forecasts don’t change.
Moreover, since it is the wealthiest nations that have the cleanest environments -- consider the dirty China and India, for example -- Waxman-Markey is more likely to damage the environment as it retards U.S. economic growth and wealth creation, and saps funding for environmental protection on an individual and societal basis.
Waxman-Markey necessarily supersizes government and increases its intrusiveness. In addition to expanded authorities and budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and other existing federal behemoths, the bill creates a whole new bureaucracy of government agencies and boards that will dictate who can use how much energy. There’s the Offsets Integrity Advisory Board, Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel, National Climate Service, and the Centers for Energy and Environmental Knowledge and Outreach to name a few.
America under the 1,200-page-long Waxman-Markey bill -- and the hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations that would necessarily follow it -- would be a fantasy world for central planners and their oppressive tendencies. Given the 20th century’s horrific experience with central planning, that should be enough reason for House members to vote ‘NO’ on Friday.
Editor's Note: the House voted 'YES' on Friday.
Mr. Milloy is the founder and publisher of JunkScience.com, co-founder of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, and co-director of the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research. His columns and op-ed pieces have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of "Green Hell," a new book from Regnery Publishing.