NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 30, 2007

Unable to reach their Kyoto commitments, many European countries have set themselves up for a head-on collision between eco-ideology and economic reality.  With the new Democratic Congress poised to ram through heavy-handed climate legislation, the United States may be heading down the same path, says Paul Driessen, a senior fellow with the Grassroot Institute.

What those legislators don't seem to realize is that abundant, reliable, affordable energy is the backbone of the entire U.S. economy and tampering with it puts jobs and families at risk, says Driessen:

  • Cutting access to fossil fuels would terminate millions of jobs, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and send living standards tumbling, while giving every U.S. citizen a "carbon allowance" akin to what other parts of the world now "enjoy" (2.3 tons of CO2 per year in Cuba or 1.2 in India, versus our current 19.8 or Canada's 17.9). 
  • The elderly and minority workers and families would be especially hard hit; deaths from winter cold and summer heat waves would soar, as energy prices rise and heating and air-conditioning become luxury items.

Other than fossil fuels, no technologies exist to provide the 100,000 megawatts of new electricity the US will need during the next decade:

  • Nuclear plants can't come online that quickly, even if Congress streamlines the glacial approval process.
  • Even the best wind turbines would require some 2 million acres (Delaware plus Rhode Island) to provide 100,000 MW of intermittent electricity that requires gas-powered generators (and drilling off our coasts) as backup.

We can and should develop new technologies, to further improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution and enter a new era of energy generation, says Driessen.  But we need not and must not rush to judgment, trash our economy or slash our living standards, just to "do something" about a speculative climate change "catastrophe."

Source: Paul Driessen, "An Economic Suicide Pact for Europe and the U.S.," Grassroots Institute, January 24, 2007.

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