Thursday, December 6, 2007

US and Climate Change

Something of substance at the federal level may finally be coming out of the endless political rhetoric regarding climate change. In a vote that fell largely along party lines, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11 to 8 in favor of legislation that would set caps on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from electric utility, transportation and manufacturing industries beginning in 2012. The legislation aims at cutting emissions 60 percent by 2050. The bill would establish an incentive system that would give credits to industries that cut pollution while forcing industries not in compliance to buy credits from others.

Whether or not this landmark legislation will ever become law remains to be seen. Not surprisingly Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.) has been outspoken in his criticism of the bill, “The thing I think that will kill this will be the same thing that killed the McCain-Lieberman bill two years ago and that is this constitutes – or that bill constituted – a tax increase 10 times greater than the Clinton-Gore tax increase of 1993. Now this is far greater than that, and yet there’s really no guaranteed benefits from it.”

First it should be noted that Senator Inhofe is consistently at the forefront of opposition to any legislation that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He has referred to global warming as "the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state." Senator Inhofe also happens to represent Oklahoma, the only state with active oil derricks on the grounds of its state capitol. (See photograph, no that’s not photoshopped).

In regard to the Senator’s economic analysis, it has been estimated by the Washington Times that such legislation could cost each American $494 a year in the form of higher energy cost. However to put this figure in perspective the Congressional Joint Economic Committee has estimated that the Iraq War has cost the average American family of four $16,500. Oddly enough Senator Inhofe has not mentioned the cost of the Iraq War in his ostensible crusade of fiscal conservatism.

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