Facts Are Stubborn Things

Posted November 12, 2009 | folder icon Print this page

Last week the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-1 to pass the Kerry-Boxer cap-and-trade energy tax.   Some of the Committee’s members wanted to delay that vote until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts a complete economic analysis of the bill’s expected costs to American consumers and the nation’s economy, but Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer refused to wait, arguing that EPA has already done a “full-blown analysis” of the legislation.

Not true, as you can see here.

This week Senator John Kerry, the lead author of the legislation, told the Senate Finance Committee that “the reason” we need to pass his cap-and-trade energy tax is that “over the last eight years, emissions in the United States of America in greenhouse gases went up four times faster than in the 1990s.”  Also not true.  In fact, he’s off by a factor of 32.

As the video shows, greenhouse gas emissions increased far slower in the 2000s than the 1990s. According to data from the Energy Information Administration,[1] U.S. carbon dioxide emissions increased by 15.14% between 1990 and 1999, but from 2001 to 2008 carbon dioxide emissions only increased by 1.88%. If Senator Kerry were correct, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would have increased by 60.5% over the last 8 years, but they only increased by 1.88%.  Senator Kerry overestimated U.S. emissions by a factor of 32.

These are the authors of the Kerry-Boxer cap-and-trade energy tax legislation.  If our leaders can’t stick to the basic facts to support their argument for a national energy tax, and the lead author of the bill is this far off the mark on “the reason” Congress needs to pass it, Americans might reasonably question the validity of their estimates on how much the bill will cost them and our nation’s already-struggling economy.

Even more troubling, Senator Lindsey Graham is now working with Senator Kerry on a “compromise” in which Senators’ would accept the cap-and-trade plan in exchange for “opening new areas for offshore drilling.”  This would have been a bad compromise last year, but given the fact that the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is now open—and has been since Congress allowed its ban on offshore drilling to expire on October 1, 2008—it appears to be an even worse compromise this year.

If the compromise is anything like the “Gang of 10” plan offered last year in the months before the Congressional ban on drilling in 85 percent of the OCS was set to expire, the only thing we’d be compromising is the progress we’ve already made. That’s because the Gang of 10 plan would have created a permanent ban on drilling in 78 percent of our offshore areas—areas that are now open.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the compromise may be.  The long-term costs cap-and-trade legislation would inflict on our economy and our way of life would be so devastating, that no compromise – offshore drilling or anything else – would justify its passage.


[1] The total includes the row titled “Total Energy” and “Electric Power Generation.”

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  • Kramer

    I think the author of this story needs to be careful, Kerry said “greenhouse gaseS” which probably includes other emissions.

    Here are the other greenhouse gases caused by humans:

    Carbon dioxide (CO2)
    Methane (CH4)
    Nitrous oxide (N2O)
    Industrial Gases:
    Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
    Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
    Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)

    Source: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=environment_about_ghg

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  • admin

    Sen. Kerry was indeed referring to total greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, he was also referring to total greenhouse gases “over the last eight years”, and since EIA only has data for total emissions through 2007, we used carbon dioxide emissions only. EIA is expected to release the 2008 data for total U.S. emissions in early December.

    Having said that, carbon dioxide emissions between 2007 and 2008 decreased by 2.6 percent, and it is likely the recession lead to decreases in other greenhouse gases as well. Whether we use carbon dioxide emissions or total greenhouse gas emissions, Sen. Kerry’s statement is fatally flawed.

    Sen. Kerry said “over the last eight years, emissions in the U.S. in greenhouse gases grew four times as fast as they did in the 1990s.” If we look at total greenhouse gas emissions, using the data EIA has published, from 1990 through 1999, total greenhouse gas emissions increased by 12.4 percent and from 2000 through 2007 total greenhouse gas emissions increased by only 3.4 percent. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/

    For Sen. Kerry’s statement to be accurate, the 2008 data for “other” greenhouse gas emissions would have to show an increase of more than 300 percent between 2007 and 2008. And given the fact that U.S. emissions of other greenhouse gases have increased by roughly 3 percent over the last 27 years, it is unlikely that the updated data will bolster the validity of Sen. Kerry’s statement.

  • sandra brown

    I live on $602 disability plus $94 SSI a month. I can not afford another $14 to $15 dollars a month(a postage stamp a day)cost! Thank you for your organized effort to stop this insanity.

  • Phil Bolles

    C’mon. Do you really expect a politician with an agenda to tell the truth? Lying is their stock-in-trade. How else could legislation be passed?

  • http://www.firetherulingclass.org Jill Friedersdorf

    Sadly, people, there is but one real way to stop the insanity that pervades our legislative system, and that is to VOTE these lying, self-seeking, power-hungry people out of office. Do you know that over 90% of our legislators get voted in again and again, and then the people who voted them in WHINE about their dishonesty and ineptness and corruption in the House and Senate. FIRE THE RULING CLASS!!! We need term limits, obviously, as we have enabled our politicians to become lukewarm and power hungry as they become CAREER politicians. Only a handful remain honest and truly representative of the people who elect them. Why is everyone so afraid to elect new Legislators?????

  • http://www.jimwilsonphotography.com James Wilson

    Let’s be bipartisan, fire all of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Myrna Maseth

    December 2, 2009

    I call this the CRAP & CON bill.