Emissions bill would derail economic recovery

Freedom New Mexico

A cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gas emissions and financially penalize businesses emitting them faces new opposition among moderate Senate Democrats, apparently worried about voter backlash in next year’s election.

Cap-and-trade, along with sweeping changes in health care, are the Obama administration’s two principle initiatives, but polls already show more Americans oppose (55 percent) than support (40 percent) the yet-to-be-approved health program, Rasmussen Reports reported Monday.

Worries about further alienating voters who are struggling in a down economy prompted “at least a half dozen” moderate Democratic senators to urge the White House to give up its ambitious plan to force conversion from fossil-based fuels to alternative energy, the Web site Politico.com reported.

Few, if any, Senate Republicans are expected to support the measure. Without moderate Democrats, it is highly unlikely cap-and-trade can pass the Senate, even though a version passed the House last summer.

In a mere half year, much has changed. There was Climategate, the controversy over leaked documents from the U.K.’s East Anglia University Climate Research Center that seem to show at the least that climate scientists systematically blackballed dissenting views while manipulating and perhaps destroying data to make a case that global warming had occurred at an alarming rate.

Then there was the Copenhagen climate summit fiasco this month in which 193 nations had hoped to agree on worldwide greenhouse gas emission curbs. But the summit fizzled when only a handful of major nations agreed merely to keep working independently to cut their own emissions but, even then, without enforcement guarantees.

Developing nations, including China, now the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter, refused to agree to any absolute reduction goals, but nevertheless insisted developed nations like the U.S. must pay them tens of billions annually to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, on which they, like the rest of the world, now rely.

More recently, a Russian think tank alleged temperature data from that nation used by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was cherry-picked, grossly inflating readings for nearly half a century. Russians called for a complete re-evaluation of the entire global temperature record, upon which the global warming theory is based.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., among other moderate Senate Democrats, essentially told the White House and party leaders “it’s time to jettison the centerpiece of their party’s plan to curb global warming,” Politico reported.

“Less than 10 days after claiming a breakthrough on climate change in Copenhagen, President Obama is facing a mutiny from senior Democrats who are imploring him to postpone or even abandon his cap-and-trade bill,” agreed the U.K.’s TimesOnline.com

Moderate Democrats may fear voter backlash if they approve another sweeping government program, effectively imposing higher energy prices. They may fear voters more than the lobbying clout of environmental groups and huge utilities that back the cap-and-trade scheme, which would give the government power to artificially create a “market” for carbon emission allowances that companies could buy and sell, as they switch to alternative fuel sources.

Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh called passage of any economywide cap-and-trade plan “unlikely.” His colleague, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said: “I’d just as soon see that set aside until we work through the economy. What we don’t want to do is have anything get in the way of working to resolve the problems with the economy.”

Meanwhile, some Democrats are scurrying for alternatives to cap-and-trade, such as taxing emissions, with proceeds passed on to consumers, or taxing only power plants.

Given growing public awareness of global warming’s problematic scientific justification and the lingering economic downturn, the Senate should shelve plans to regulate ubiquitous CO2 emissions — at least until the scientific issues are resolved, and until the recession ends.