The Wall Street Journal
We Don't Need a Climate Tax on the Poor
By JAMES INHOFE
With average gas prices across the country approaching $4 a gallon, it may be hard to believe, but the U.S. Senate is considering legislation this week that will further drive up the cost at the pump.
The Senate is debating a global warming bill that will create the largest expansion of the federal government since FDR's New Deal, complete with a brand new, unelected bureaucracy. The Lieberman-Warner bill (America's Climate Security Act) represents the largest tax increase in U.S. history and the biggest pork bill ever contemplated with trillions of dollars in giveaways. Well-heeled lobbyists are already plotting how to divide up the federal largesse. The handouts offered by the sponsors of this bill come straight from the pockets of families and workers in the form of lost jobs, higher gas, power and heating bills, and more expensive consumer goods.
Various analyses show that Lieberman-Warner would result in higher prices at the gas pump, between 41 cents and $1 per gallon by 2030. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says Lieberman-Warner would effectively raise taxes on Americans by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. The federal Energy Information Administration says the bill would result in a 9.5% drop in manufacturing output and higher energy costs.
Carbon caps will have an especially harmful impact on low-income Americans and those with fixed incomes. A recent CBO report found: "Most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households."
The poor already face energy costs as a much higher percentage of their income than wealthier Americans. While most Americans spend about 4% of their monthly budget on heating their homes or other energy needs, the poorest fifth of Americans spend 19%. A 2006 survey of Colorado homeless families with children found that high energy bills were cited as one of the two main reasons they became homeless.
Lieberman-Warner will also hinder U.S. competitiveness, transferring American jobs overseas to places where environmental regulations are much more lenient. Instead of working to eliminate trade barriers on clean energy and lower emitting technologies, the bill imposes a "green," tariff-style tax on imported goods. This could provoke international retaliatory actions by our trade partners, threatening our own export markets and further driving up the costs of consumer goods.
My colleague, Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), warned last week that Lieberman-Warner "could result in the most massive bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of Americans since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service." Mandating burdensome new layers of federal bureaucracy is not the solution to America 's energy challenges.
This bill is ultimately about certainty. We are certain of the huge negative impact on the economy as detailed by numerous government and private analyses. We are certain of the massive expansion of the federal bureaucracy.
And we are certain the bill will not have a detectable impact on the climate. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's own analysis, by 2050 Lieberman-Warner would only lower global CO2 concentrations by less than 1.4% without additional international action. In fact, this bill, often touted as an "insurance policy" against global warming, is instead all economic pain for no climate gain.
Why are many in Washington proposing a bill that will do so much economic harm? The answer is simple. The American people are being asked to pay significantly more for energy merely so some lawmakers in Washington can say they did something about global warming.
I have been battling global warming alarmism since 2003, when I became chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. It has been a lonely battle at times, but it now appears that many of my colleagues are waking up to the reality of cap-and-trade legislation.
The better way forward is an energy policy that emphasizes technology and includes developing nations such as China and India . Tomorrow's energy mix must include more natural gas, wind and geothermal, but it must also include oil, coal and nuclear power, which is the world's largest source of emission-free energy. Developing and expanding domestic energy sources will translate into energy security and ensure stable supplies and well-paying jobs for Americans.
Let me end with a challenge to my colleagues. Will you dare stand on the Senate floor in these uncertain economic times and vote in favor of significantly increasing the price of gas at the pump, losing millions of American jobs, creating a huge new bureaucracy and raising taxes by record amounts? The American people deserve and expect a full debate on this legislation.
Related: More Inhofe Standing Up For Oklahoman and American Families and Workers:
Senate Debate Begins: Inhofe Senate Floor Remarks Focuses on Protecting Oklahoman and American Families and Workers (Click Here To Watch) June 2, 2008
Inhofe Press Release: New Study Shows Lieberman-Warner Would Impose Massive Tax Increases on Oklahoma’s Agricultural Community; Inhofe Standing Strong For Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers, June 2, 2008 Excerpt: WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today commented on a new study by Doane Advisory Services that shows America's Climate Security Act – S.2191 (Lieberman-Warner), soon to be amended to S. 3036 (Boxer Substitute), would impose significant increases in production costs for eight major crops (Corn, Rice, Soybeans, Sorghum, Wheat, Barley, Cotton, and Oats) that comprise of approximately 95% of all agricultural goods other than hay. According to the new study, Lieberman-Warner would equate to an agriculture tax on the eight crops between $6 billion and $12 billion in 2020 alone.
Inhofe Blog Post: The High Cost of Lieberman-Warner on Oklahoma Families; Inhofe to Lead Opposition Against Largest Tax Increase In American History May 30, 2008 Excerpt: With gas prices in Oklahoma and across the country approaching $4 a gallon, it may be hard to believe, but the United States Senate will likely take up legislation next week that will further drive up the cost at the pump. Beginning on June 2, 2008, the United States Senate will begin debate on a global warming cap-and-trade bill, the America's Climate Security Act (Lieberman-Warner) that if it were to become law, would impose severe economic constraints on Oklahoma families and Oklahoma workers for no environmental gain. Further, as the Wall Street Journal noted in a May 27, 2008 editorial, “Warner-Lieberman would impose the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s.” Because of the disastrous consequences of this bill on Oklahoma and the nation, Senator Inhofe has pledged to lead the fight against this legislation on the Senate floor.
Oklahoman: Senate to discuss measure to control climate change June 1, 2008 : Excerpt: Opponents of the bill, including Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, could stop the Senate from even considering it, since it will take 60 votes to begin the debate. But they're not expected to slow it down at first, preferring instead to have a debate about the massive changes to the nation's energy production and usage that would result from the bill. Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey said, "Senator Inhofe supports a full and open debate on the merits of the bill and is confident that when his colleagues examine the facts about the enormous economic burdens this bill will impose on the American people, they, too, will oppose it.”
New York Times: Senate Opens Debate on Politically Risky Bill Addressing Global Warming June 3, 2008: Excerpt: "Any action has to provide real protections for the American economy and jobs, and we must protect the American families," said Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma. "Any action should not raise the cost of gasoline or energy to American families, particularly the low-income and elderly who are most susceptible to energy costs."
Washington Post: Climate Bill Underlines Obstacles to Capping Greenhouse Gases. June 1, 2008 Excerpt: All of this has left opponents of the bill, such as Environment and Public Works ranking member and global warming skeptic James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), gloating. Andrew Wheeler, the panel's GOP staff director, said in an interview that Republicans will not filibuster the bill this week because they relish the chance to offer amendments highlighting the bill's effect on energy costs. "People are looking at this; they're seeing that it's going to do destructive things to energy prices and gasoline prices," Wheeler said. […] More than a dozen key senators -- including freshmen Democrats Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) -- have yet to endorse the bill. And Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) , who supports the bill, is staying neutral rather than pushing recalcitrant members of his caucus to back it. "Generally, I believe that global warming is a serious issue and that we need to address it," said Dorgan, whose state produces lignite coal as well as wind power. But he added that he is still "digesting" the complicated bill, which he fears would not do enough to spur technology that would enable the country to continue burning coal. "We thought and hoped we'd be in a more serious place, but most people are using it as an opportunity to vet ideas and advance ideas for the debate to come in the next Congress," said Tim Profeta, who directs Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. "Not many people see this as a serious piece of legislation that will become law this year."
Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill Exposed: www.epw.senate.gov/lieberman-warnerbillexposed