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06-01-08, 11:34 AM #1
New Congressional "Carbon Cap" Energy Bill May Mean $8.00/gallon Gas Prices and Corporate Failures
This was billed as a "Manhattan-type" project to create and perfect new cheap energy sources like Fusion, more economical solar, and better batteries to power electric cars.
But what we're GETTING is another tax, this time on fuel use to force companies to use old expensive alternate energy technology, plus a huge new "Carbon Cops" bureacracy.
Congress is doing what it does best - screwing up a great idea, and then turning the screw-up into a tax.
Congress debates major limits on energy use
Critics fear effects on economy.
By Bob Keefe
WEST COAST BUREAU
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Congress is scheduled to begin debate this week on what could become the most sweeping and costly environmental legislation the United States has known.
Depending on who's talking, it could help save the planet or help bankrupt the country.
Proponents say the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act could reduce global warming by requiring power companies, manufacturers and other big polluters to dramatically cut their emissions and shift from fossil fuels to more expensive renewable energy sources beginning in 2012.
The mere progress of the bill so far marks a major shift in U.S. climate change policy that could help reverse America's image as a laggard in the fight against global warming.
But opponents, led by big business groups, say the costs associated with the plan could send the already fragile economy into free fall.
"We're bankrupting our economy for very little gain" if the legislation passes, said Keith McCoy, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, which strongly opposes the proposed legislation.
McCoy's group predicts the country's economic output could fall nearly $670 billion, or about 1 percent, by 2030 as power plants, refineries, manufacturers and other businesses are forced to deal with new requirements and use cleaner but more expensive renewable energy sources, such as solar power or wind.
Gas prices could hit $8 a gallon and home electricity bills could rise 150 percent, the group predicts.
As many as 4 million jobs could disappear by 2030, the group says. The economic hit to Texas could force companies to cut as many as 335,000 jobs to pay for added costs, according to the manufacturers' group. Only California would see more job losses, it predicts.
Proponents say the economic consequences aren't nearly that dire. If the U.S. doesn't quickly do something to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the economic impact could be even worse, they argue.
"We still have the opportunity to avoid damages (from global warming), but our window of opportunity is running out," said Dan Lashof, global warming specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
A comprehensive national strategy is needed, Lashof said.
In its own study, the environmental group predicts that real estate losses, higher energy and water costs and other global warming-related problems could result in $3.8 trillion in economic losses by the end of the century if the Lieberman-Warner legislation isn't passed.
"If you think it's expensive to do something about climate change, this tells you how expensive it will be to do nothing about climate change," said Tufts University economist Frank Ackerman, who conducted the Natural Resources Defense Council study.
The Lieberman-Warner legislation has a long way to go.
The House has yet to introduce a companion bill. And given current economic problems, the bill could face a tough fight in the Senate.
"As American families and American workers are faced with an economic downturn, the slumping housing market and rising gas prices, they are unlikely to tolerate a 'de-stimulus' climate bill ... (that) will further exacerbate economic pain," Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., an opponent, said in a statement.
In the past, while other countries were taking steps to address climate change, the Bush administration and others denied that global warming was a problem or was even occurring.
All of the major U.S. presidential candidates say they support a carbon "cap-and-trade" system like the one laid out in the Lieberman-Warner bill.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., who sponsored the bill with Sen. John Warner, R-Va., calls it the nation's next Manhattan Project or Apollo Project.
In cost, complexity and potential, the proposed legislation could exceed those national initiatives.
Under the bill, the nation's big polluters would be required to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions — the "cap" part of the plan — 4 percent below 2005 levels beginning in 2012 and 71 percent by 2050.
To do so, businesses could switch from fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, to more environmentally friendly sources, such as solar, wind or biomass, which are more expensive.
Some of the biggest polluters, including manufacturers, power plants and refineries, would be given carbon "credits" they could use to soften the blow of new carbon reduction requirements. They also would get billions of dollars in government assistance.
If they still can't meet their caps, companies could purchase more credits through a government auction or buy and sell them — the "trade" part of the plan — through a new stock market-like system regulated by the government.
The bill's authors estimate the auctioning of credits could raise more than $1 trillion in government revenue.
That money in turn would be used to help fund energy technology research and conservation programs and to train renewable energy workers. The funds also would help provide tax incentives and other government assistance for affected manufacturers, utilities and refineries.
Under the bill, the government also would set aside nearly $800 billion in tax credits for low-income consumers who could be most affected by rising energy prices.
The Lieberman-Warner proposal is modeled after a generally successful cap-and-trade system implemented in the 1990s designed to cut U.S. utilities' sulfur dioxide emissions, which cause acid rain. Other countries have implemented similar cap-and-trade systems as they try to meet the emission caps outlined in the Kyoto Protocol.
A recent analysis by the federal Energy Information Administration estimates consumers' average annual power bills would rise $30 to $325 by 2020 under the legislation. Some utilities predict they would rise much more.
Many Texas lawmakers have adopted a wait-and-see approach on the Washington legislation, effectively putting a hold on any statewide or regional carbon caps. A greenhouse gas study bill authored by state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, in the last legislative session died in a House committee after clearing a Senate vote.
State lawmakers have sounded glum about the prospect of a mandate coming down from Capitol Hill.
"The governor hopes Congress carefully considers the economic impact to Texas and the country and balances that with proven environmental benefit from such a proposal," said Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for the governor.
"Misguided and unrealistic mandates force employers to divert resources in the near-term rather than promote spending for long-term technology innovations to reduce greenhouse gases and increase efficiency," Tony Bennett, chairman of the Texas Association of Manufacturers, wrote in a recent opinion piece.
Austin Energy has taken no position on the Lieberman-Warner bill, but it does support a national cap-and-trade system, said Carlos Cordova, a spokesman for the city-owned utility.
The Austin City Council has set goals to cut carbon emissions. The council has directed Austin Energy to get 30 percent of its power from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2020. And the city is weighing whether to require homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements before selling their homes.
Jim Marston, head of the Austin office of the Environmental Defense Fund, said Texas should act early on global warming legislation rather than wait.
"You've got to play in order to affect the game," Marston said. "We don't have the political leadership to undertake an important role. We're too short-sighted to get into the game. Then we're going to whine and say we're getting a California or Connecticut or Florida-regulated regime imposed on us. Yes, and it'll be because we didn't do anything."
Along with costs, critics say the Lieberman-Warner plan does too much too quickly.
The technology necessary to replace fossil fuels with affordable renewable energy in mass quantities isn't available yet, they say. Setting up a massive new bureaucracy to manage such a program would be expensive and could take decades, critics add.
"The fact is, when you're making the biggest economic decision the world will probably ever make, you need to make sure it's right," said Bill Kovacs, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In advertisements, Kovacs' business advocacy group shows people sleeping in earmuffs and overcoats, cooking over candles and walking or jogging to work because energy costs have risen too much.
"What (bill proponents) are saying is, 'Trust us. We're going to do this and then somebody somewhere is going to find the technology to really solve this problem,'" Kovacs said.
"You can't play with the economy like that," he said.
Additional material from staff writer Asher Price
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06-01-08, 12:26 PM #2GrasshopperVerified LEO
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While I agree that something has to be done to divert the nation as a whole away from fossil fuels and carbon based technology, the congress and seemingly OPEC is trying to force the issue too fast. The push needs to be towards incentives to companies creating technology that becomes more efficent and less fossil/carbon based, not creating situations that cause the average consumer to suffer. As it is now, people that are trying to make it the right way (be it the young college student trying to commute so they can live at home and work through college or the minimum wage earner trying to provide for their family the only way they can) are finding it almost impossible to live anywhere but walking distance from work. This is going to cause an increase in populations in the cities, which is going to cause higher crime. The effects of these new policies and new hikes in everything are only going to further the degradation of a society that is already on a down hill slide. The disparity between rich and the poor becomes greater, gradually eliminating the middle class. I dread the day that comes when I become the middle man between the extreme rich and the extreme poor.And Shepards we shall be,
for thee, My Lord, for thee,
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So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
And teeming with souls will it ever be.
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06-01-08, 06:15 PM #3
The liberals won't be happy until every one of us is crammed into apartment buildings in the city, utilizing the hell out of mass transit....just like socialist Europe.
I love having the freedom to choose to drive a long ass way to work if I want. I love my SUV that only gets 15mpg on a good day. Fuck the politicians!The views expressed in the above post are the sole opinion of the author and do not reflect any official position by the author's employer and/or municipality.
06-01-08, 10:25 PM #4Officer First ClassVerified LEO
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I just saw gas at $ 4.59 per gallon in NYC..
The Mike Dimone Show
06-02-08, 12:06 AM #5
I just talked to our match director yesterday - He had bought a big Deisel Pickup with dual tanks and all that to pull trailers. Since he makes steel targets for rifle & pistols comercially and sometimes has to deliver them out of state as well as hauling armor plate steel back and forth to the plasma cutter, he has a big honking engine.
It gets 17 MPG, but with Deisel at $4.70/gal, that works out to 28 cents per mile, and if he gets empty, it takes over $250 to fill it up.
I was behind a commercial flatbed delivery truck the other day, and he put $400 in that thing. At that price, he bought some special fuel caps that he could padlock, and his welder put a steel shield around the tank - He said he had someone poke a hole in his tank to siphon out deisel, but they couldn't use it all so he estimates that over $200 eaked into the parking lot.
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06-03-08, 08:56 AM #6
Global warming is BS, one volcano puts out more that we do.
06-03-08, 02:10 PM #7
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