'At a time when the economy is struggling . . . this giant tax would be an unbearable burden'

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), after introduction of the Boxer substitute to the Lieberman-Warner global climate change bill on the Senate floor on June 2.

Jun 6th, 2008

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), after introduction of the Boxer substitute to the Lieberman-Warner global climate change bill on the Senate floor on June 2:

"Having spent most of the past week in Kentucky, I can say with a pretty high level of confidence that the single most important issue to the people of my state is the fact that they're paying about twice as much for a gallon of gasoline than they were last year.

"I'm also fairly confident that Kentuckians aren't alone in their frustration. Gas prices are, without doubt, the single most pressing issue for Americans at the moment.

"And that's why it's so hard to comprehend the majority's decision to move to a bill, at the start of the summer driving season, that would raise the price of gas by as much as $1.40 a gallon, home electricity bills by about 44%t, and natural gas prices by about 20%.

"Now, of all times, is not the time to be increasing the burden on American consumers. Now is the time to be considering overdue legislation that would send gas prices down, not up.

"Now is the time to be considering, and approving, legislation that would allow Americans to increase energy production within our own borders, and to accelerate the process of moving to clean nuclear energy. Now is the time to do something about $4 a gallon gasoline, not something that would give us $6 a gallon gas down the road.

"So the timing of this bill could not be worse. And the substance is just as bad.

"Let's be clear on something at the outset of this debate: The Senate supports reducing carbon emissions. Just last year, we took serious, bipartisan steps to increase fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, increase the use of renewable fuels, and expand research into advanced technologies to reduce pollution and stress on the environment.

"But in everything we've done, we've kept a couple of non-negotiable principles in mind: First, any legislation that reduces carbon emissions can't kill US jobs. And second, any legislation in this area must promote innovation here at home.

"This legislation fails both tests miserably. If passed, it would have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy. It is, at its heart, a stealth and giant tax on virtually every aspect of industrial and consumer life. It would result in massive job losses. And it seeks to radically alter consumer behavior, without any measurable benefit to the environment in return.

"Overall, it's expected to result in [gross domestic product] losses totaling as much as $2.9 trillion by 2050.

"If our economy were running on all cylinders, this bill would be terrible economically. At a time when the economy is struggling, when the price of gas, food, and power bills, are skyrocketing, this giant tax would be an unbearable new burden for Americans to bear.

"The Senate has already expressed its willingness to cut carbon emissions. This Congress has acted in a bipartisan way to reduce greenhouse gases by tightening automobile fuel economy standards, and by requiring increased use of alternative fuels in last year's energy bill. But moving forward, we should agree, with gas prices as high as they are, that any further action in this area must protect American consumers and American jobs.

"This means investing in new, clean energy technologies, including clean coal technologies which can capture and store carbon emissions. This means encouraging the construction of new, zero-emission nuclear power plants, and ensuring continued domestic sources of enriched uranium. And it means developing countries must also participate — countries like India and China, which already exceeds the US in greenhouse gas emissions . . .

"At a time when Americans are struggling to pay their bills and when the price of gas seems to be rising higher and higher every day, the Democrat leadership is showing itself to be laughably out of touch by moving to a bill that would raise the price of gas even higher.

"This proposed climate tax legislation would be a bad idea even if its impact were beyond dispute. The fact that experts tell us its actual impact on reducing global temperatures is hardly measurable — and will be negligible if China and India do not approve similar measures — makes the wisdom of moving to it at this time even more questionable.

"Why would we raise the price of gas, the cost of electricity, the cost of food, and put the brakes on our economy – when it will all be for nothing if China and India aren't willing to do the same?

"And who exactly expects these developing nations to take similar action to slow their economic growth and raise prices for their consumers? No one. No one seriously expects that they will approve anything similar to this legislation which means that for American consumers, the Boxer bill is all cost and no benefit.

"There is a better way to move forward. Climate change is a serious issue, and we should continue taking action to address it, as we did in last year's energy bill.

"But the way to proceed is to invest in clean energy technologies that allow us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming our economy, sending jobs overseas, and raising energy prices across the board for US workers, families, farmers, and truckers.

"Republicans are eager to begin this debate, and we will have amendments that protect consumers from the price increases and job losses in the Boxer Substitute.

"I will be voting in favor of cloture on the motion to proceed, and it's my expectation that once we get on the bill, the majority will allow for amendments, and for what I expect will be a rather robust debate on the merits of this climate tax legislation."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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