Congress All Talk On Global Warming

Rhetoric is Free; Turning Rhetoric into Policy is Costly, Says NCPA's Burnett


DALLAS (July 11, 2007) - From former Vice President Al Gore's recent turn as movie producer and rock concert promoter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's specially created climate change committee, politicians often go to great lengths to propagate the belief that energy use must be reduced to combat catastrophic global warming.  Few, however, ever take steps to turn that rhetoric into public policy, according to H. Sterling Burnett, Senior Fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). 

Yet if the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee gets his way, that may change.  Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) has announced that he plans to introduce as early as this week a new tax on carbon emissions.  His point is to force his colleagues -- and the voters -- to be more honest about the cost of their global-warming posturing.

"When it comes to global warming, Congress has been long on talk but short on action," Burnett said.  "The special climate change committee has been a bust, yielding more press statements and photo ops than concrete proposals.

"By introducing a bill significantly hiking energy taxes to reduce energy use - and thus slow greenhouse gas emissions - he will lay bare the hypocrisy in Congress.  After all, at a time when consumer's are screaming for relief from high prices at the gas pump and on their electric bills, it is unlikely they are going to support candidates who vote to increase the costs of energy; thus it is unlikely a new energy tax will get a majority of support in this, or any, Congress, despite their rhetoric otherwise.

"The most important point he is making is that there is no such thing as a free lunch in fighting climate change.  Regardless of whether we attempt to slow warming through new energy taxes or a cap-and-trade approach, the costs will be quite high, will harm the poor the most, and, by most estimates will do little or nothing to prevent global warming."