Climate bill on the cusp - The Packer

Climate bill on the cusp

06/26/2009 06:00:17 AM
Tom Karst

The big climate change bill comes up for a vote in the House of Representatives today, with some predicting enough votes for passage. Of course, there remains a real divergence of political opinion about the bill, which aims for a 17% reduction from 2005 greenhouse gas levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050.  Either the “sky is falling” to “salvation is at hand.” Some Republicans estimate the legislation will cost Americans $3,100 per household, while the Congressional Budget Office estimated an average cost of $175 per family. Despite the fact that the USDA will manage carbon offset programs for farmers - instead of the EPA - Republicans are not impressed.
Note that House Agriculture Committee ranking member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., put out this news release yesterday;

"I don't know where the President is getting his information, but the record speaks for itself.  The Waxman-Markey bill remains the single, largest, economic threat to farmers and rural Americans in decades.  And, the speed in which this bill is moving through Congress is a disgrace to the American people," said Ranking Member Frank Lucas. 

President Obama:   "Instead of increasing the deficit, it's paid for by the polluters who currently emit dangerous carbon emissions"

Reality: 
• Senator Obama as a candidate for President told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008 that "under [his] plan of a cap and tax system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket…that will cost money.  They will pass that money on to consumers…"
• In a CNBC interview yesterday, Warren Buffet said cap and trade is "a huge tax…and…a fairly regressive tax."  It will mean "very poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity."
• Two weeks ago at a public hearing, the Fertilizer Institute told the full Agriculture Committee that this bill "would place U.S. fertilizer producers at a competitive disadvantage and force them to make a stark choice between losing market share to imports or moving production overseas."
• Everyone is going to pay who consumes energy. 

President Obama:  "This legislation has been written carefully to express the concerns of the past."

Reality: 
• The bill that Congress will vote on was not made available until two days ago and had grown by several hundred pages.
• The Agriculture Committee did not see the Rep. Collin Peterson's amendment to the bill until this morning, which is one day before the full House is expected to vote on this legislation.
• Only one of nine committees with jurisdiction over this bill has been able to hold a markup because Speaker Nancy Pelosi told committee chairmen they had until June 19 to consider H.R. 2454. 
• The Agriculture Committee has been able to hold only one public hearing on the bill.

President Obama:  "It gives rural communities and farmers the opportunity to participate in climate solutions and generate new income."

\Reality: 
• A Heritage Foundation study shows that farmers' average net income will drop by 57 percent by 2035.  Also, by 2035, gasoline and diesel costs are expected to be 58 percent higher and electric rates 90 percent higher.
• Secretary Vilsack told the Agriculture Committee that USDA had not done an economic analysis of how this bill will impact farmers, but said "I think it is fair to say there may be additional costs associated with a farming operation, but it is very difficult to quantify."

President Obama:  "This legislation is so balanced and sensible; it's already attracted a remarkable coalition of consumer and environmental groups, labor, and business leaders, Democrats and Republicans."

Reality: 
• 116 agriculture and food groups have publicly opposed this bill.  Even with Rep. Peterson's amendment, the American Farm Bureau Federation said it could not support the bill because "there are simply too many flaws in the underlying bill."

 

TK: We can't be afraid of the future, President Obama says. But this bill does look a lot like a massive tax hike on energy in the guise of feel good  and populist enviornmentalism.
 



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