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March 16, 2012

Climate Change Denial is About Maintaining Control of the Wealth

By Roberta Seldon

The Waxman-Markey climate bill is a good investment for the United States to make in our own economic future and in the future of the planet, an NYU study reports. Yet Congressional Republicans continue to fight climate change legislation every step of the way -- all for the sake of big oil.


In a video I posted last month, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told Fox News Radio's Alan Colmes that "the bureaucratic dream is to control carbon," he said in reference to the notion that global warming is merely a hoax. Liberals want government to control our lives, and "if you control carbon, you control life," he added.

Well, Inhofe was certainly right about one thing -- the debate over global warming/climate change is about control; but not government control. It's about the 1 percent maintaining control over the country's wealth.

According to KCET -- the nation's largest independent public television station -- Inhofe and two other senators known for their stance against addressing climate change "received a large chunk of their campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry."

"For Inhofe" the oil and gas industry is his largest contributor, giving more than $1.2 million since 1989. His third-largest individual donor is Koch Industries, the Wichita oil and gas giant that has been recruiting Congressional Republicans to stand up to greenhouse gas regulations," KCET reported.

Moreover, Politico reported that staffers of Inhofe and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, held a secret meeting in January with lobbyists from the American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and others who wanted to block federal and state climate rules. That meeting led to the creation of the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, also known as H.R.910, is a piece of legislation aimed at amending the Clean Air Act "to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas due to concerns regarding possible climate change."

According to a press release on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's website, H.R.910 would "protect American jobs and manufacturers from overreaching EPA regulations that hinder our ability to compete with China and other countries." The legislation would also:

Stop EPA bureaucrats from making legislative decisions that should be made by Congress;

Clarify that the Clean Air Act was not written by Congress to address climate change; and

Stop EPA bureaucrats from imposing a backdoor cap-and-trade tax that would make gasoline, electricity, fertilizer, and groceries more expensive for consumers.

"With this draft proposal, we are initiating a deliberative, transparent process that we hope will prevent EPA from imposing by regulation the massive cap-and-trade tax that Congress rejected last year. We firmly believe federal bureaucrats should not be unilaterally setting national climate change policy, and with good reason: EPA's cap-and-trade tax agenda will cost jobs, undermine the competitiveness of America's manufacturers, and, as EPA has conceded, will have no meaningful impact on climate. In other words, all cost with no benefit," Inhofe, Upton and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky), Chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, who also had a hand in drafting the legislation, said in a joint statement, according to the press release.

But studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York University suggest that the phrase "all cost with no benefit" couldn't be any further from the truth. According to the EPA, a 2003 Office of Management and Budget study found that the Acid Rain Program (ARP), a national cap and trade program, accounted for the largest quantified human health benefits -- over $70 billion annually -- of any federal regulatory program implemented in the last 10 years, with annual benefits exceeding costs by more than 40:1. In other words, "for every dollar spent on implementing this cap and trade program, 40 dollars are returned in health and environmental benefits." Additionally, a 2005 study estimated ARP's benefits at $122 billion annually in 2010, while cost estimates are around $3 billion annually (in 2000 dollars).

In September 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported that a brief out from NYU Law School's Institute for Policy Integrity said: "From almost any perspective and under almost any assumption, H.R. 2454 [the Waxman-Markey climate bill] is a good investment for the United States to make in our own economic future and in the future of the planet."

To reach that conclusion, the researchers set out to determine how much a ton of carbon not emitted into the atmosphere is worth to society in terms of avoiding climate change. Its worth came out to about $19 a ton.

"So, given that the Waxman-Markey bill would curb emissions over the next 40 years, it's a pretty simple job to tally up the potential benefits: about $1.5 trillion on the middle-of-the-road estimate. The benefits could be as low as $382 billion or as high as $5.2 trillion, depending on how you fiddle with the numbers.

"Since Waxman-Markey is meant to cost about $660 billion, that means the bill provides $2.27 in benefits for every dollar spent, the brief concludes. That doesn't include extra benefits -- cleaner air from a cleaned-up power sector, for instance. And it suggests that even tougher greenhouse-gas targets in the Senate version of the bill would make an even more compelling economic argument," The Wall Street Journal wrote.

Moreover, in 2010, The Brookings Institution reported: "The U.S. government recently examined the full range of scientific and economic data and developed a new way to measure the costs of releasing greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. The government's central conclusion is that the release of an additional ton of carbon dioxide today will cause about $21 of damage globally. This is referred to as the social cost of carbon. It finally puts a monetary value on the expected damages from climate change, including shortened life spans, reduced agricultural yields, and increased property damage due to higher sea levels.

"The social cost of carbon confirms that the price of inaction is substantial. Assuming that all nations continue on their current emissions path, the average annual damages from the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, relative to 2010 emissions, is expected to be about $100 billion over the next decade. As the chart reveals, the annual damages by 2050 would be equal to nearly $1.3 trillion. If caps are not put in place, the average annual damages from greenhouse gas emissions would be about $570 billion over the next four decades.

"The projected economic damages for the United States alone are estimated to reach $200 billion annually by 2050. Over the next four decades, the average annual damages are projected at $85 billion."

Given the many benefits of climate change mitigation, one would have to wonder why Inhofe and others alike are so against combating global warming. Could it be they are, as Inhofe said, merely trying to prevent government from controlling our lives or are they simply trying to maintain control of the nation"s wealth? What do you think?

This article was published originally by the Security and Sustainability Forum

Submitters Bio:
Roberta Seldon is the blogger at Security and Sustainability Forum, a website that provides free online seminars and useful information related to corporate sustainability, national security and climate change. Roberta Seldon is also a volunteer editor at