Like the health care and financial reform efforts, energy and climate change legislation will be another Big F _ _ _ ing deal. Accordingly, the political gamesmanship in Washington continues with the mid-term elections right around the corner.
The Senate’s version of the Waxman-Hartley Clean Energy bill in the House is called the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1713). The bill provides for the establish- ment of a cap-and-trade system for green- house gas emission allowances and sets goals for reducing these emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050. It’s been pending debate in the Senate for more than a year now with legislators’ efforts committed first to the health care issue and most recently to financial reform (seems like the wheels of progress in Washington can only travel down one major road at a time).
Like the health care and financial reform efforts, energy and climate change legislation will be another Big F _ _ _ ing deal. Accordingly, the political gamesmanship in Washington continues with the mid-term elections right around the corner. Whether this or the immigration issue will be tackled next is anyone’s guess, however.
Following last week’s pronouncements by the bill’s sponsor, John Kerry and likely co-sponsor, Joe Lieberman, the distortions from the right started flowing faster than oil from BP’s on-going disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. One came in the form of an email from Newt Gingrich’s 527 political action committee (PAC), American Solutions For Winning the Future. The email sums up the main distortions from those fighting reform in a single word: tax. Big Oil lobbyists and their politician spokespersons use that word repeatedly. In fact, in a single sentence of Newt’s email, he uses some form of the word five times. But repeating something over and over again doesn’t make it true. The truth is that there is no energy tax in the bill at all.
Newt’s a master politician. He knows what he’s doing. He knows that his constituents are fearful of new taxes and he knows that if he harps on the subject enough, more and more Americans will begin to believe it. But he also knows that taxes are not part of this legislation so he’s confusing taxes (the levy of financial charges by government upon an individual or a legal entity such that failure to pay is punishable by law) with the specter of rising energy costs. But energy costs for both businesses and consumers, according to a new study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a private, non-partisan, non-profit think tank, could actually go down, offset by improvements in energy efficiency over the long-haul. The study counters another claim that Gingrich’s PAC hints at too, warnings of harm to our economy. The truth is that the American Power Act would add over 200,000 new clean energy jobs every year to the American economy. But maybe most important, the Peterson study concludes that the American Power Act would lower our imports of foreign oil by 40%, thus putting America back in charge of our own energy, curbing our addiction to oil, stemming the flow of American dollars to countries that don’t like us, and reducing our trade deficit which dimishes the rate at which our economy can grow. What we pay for foreign oil accounts for half or more of our annual trade deficit.
Less oil, reduced risk to the environment and to other sectors of our economy, more jobs, and lower total energy costs in the long-run. That’s the truth about the American Power Act, not the misleading claims of Newt Gingrich’s PAC and others lobbying on behalf of the unsustainable status-quo and big profits for coal and oil companies. But you don’t have to take my word for it, read the Peterson Institute’s study for yourself.
Please feel free to post a comment whether you agree that we need a comprehensive energy plan or not.