by Marita Noon
The flurry of Christmas activities, shopping, and parties may occupy more of your brain space than news events. Even if you follow the news, health care fills the political reporting as it should. It has the potential to radically change an enormous portion of the American economy. However, there are other issues that need frequent attention lest, as the Wall Street Journal cites, the legislation quietly "rolls through."
I refer to the various energy policies, legislation, or regulation that are currently on the table. While healthcare may represent 1/6 of the economy, energy is the economy as energy usage and GDP go hand-in-hand. There are three major energy issues that require diligence: Cap and Trade, Climategate/Copenhagen, and Carbon Rulings.
Cap and Trade has been a news item, reaching its current pinnacle in July, when the House passed the Waxman-Markey Bill-under which US producers (primarily energy sources) would receive tradable permits to emit greenhouse gases. It aims to cut manmade emissions from the United States by 83% by 2050. Remember, energy use and GDP are intricately connected. Energy cuts will have an economic impact and reduce jobs. The Waxman-Markey Bill turned out to be unpopular once the public got wind of the significant costs. Those who voted for the bill were booed back at home. Now, the Senate is unenthusiastic about its own version of Cap and Trade. Many say it is "dead on arrival." If it comes up in the Senate at all, most are suggesting that it will be late spring. I called Senator Bingaman's office and they could not give me a potential date. Instead, they said, we are "doing healthcare now." Udall's office did not respond.
In the midst of the quiet on Cap and Trade, days before the start of the Copenhagen Climate Conference, e-mails were leaked from the Climate Research Unit--now known as "Climategate." These e-mails bring the entire issue of "climate change" into question. One has to wonder, why would the scientists hide or adjust data if they were as convinced of the strength of their case as they claim to be? The e-mails show a blacklisting of dissenting opinions, manipulating of peer review, and avoidance of freedom of information requests. Despite this, the Copenhagen Climate Conference is going full-speed-ahead in the hope of coming away with a treaty that will change the world as we know it.
Hope springs eternal. While on his Asian tour, Obama acknowledged that the best one could hope for is a political agreement. He is going back to the Scandinavian region with the promise of an 83% cut in US greenhouse gas emissions--about which WSJ says, "are only possible when everyone knows they will not happen." If the goals of the Copenhagen Conference are achieved, they will have America paying reparations for an imaginary climate debt accumulated while building the greatest economy of all times. There is little "hope" that China, India and even the Gulf Arab States will comply, thus making Copenhagen just a massive fossil-fuel-burning, carbon-emitting dog and pony show.
With the above scenarios as accepted fact, the Environmental Protection Agency had to do something to give President Obama cover. On December 7 (the opening day of the Copenhagen Conference), they announced that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of the American people." Using the Clean Air Act that was written decades ago and was never, as the author agrees, intended to apply to carbon, EPA has given Obama a meaningless piece of paper to wave around in Copenhagen. While many businesses have sided with cap and trade thinking it will be less onerous than EPA regulations, it is widely agreed that the Clean Air Act is the wrong vehicle for the task. As Congress is in the midst of addressing the issue, the EPA's saber-rattling is typical administrative overreach, violating statutory authority. The ruling gives EPA's non-elected bureaucrats the ability to threaten business and recalcitrant Democrats--making it clear that they'd best toe the line. Meanwhile, the EPA decision will be tied up for years--if not decades--in the courts.
Whew! While energy is not dominating the news cycle, it is still charged up. During this Christmas season, hang your lights, cook your feast, and stay warm inside! If each of these issues moves forward without push back, it may be your last year to do so.
Marita Noon is the Executive Director at CARE (Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy), the nonprofit organization working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. Find out more at www.responsiblenergy.org.
----- Editor's Note -----
It was more than just a little humorous that President Obama was forced to cut short his Copenhagen Catastrophe Conference on global warming in order avoid getting stuck chilling in Copenhagen due to a major east coast snow storm.
The climate has always changed and it always will. This is not consensus it's simple fact backed up by empirical data. How did some of us become so arrogant as to actually believe that we could destroy the planet by burning carbon based fuels? Sheesh!