The Right Answer to Global Warming

Conn Carroll /

The Bush Administration may have struck out on their decision to list the polar bear as “threatened” pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. But they hit a home run with their promise to veto what ever carbon cap bill comes out of the Senate’s debate on the Lieberman-Warner legislation. Heritage scholar Ben Lieberman summarizes the White House’s statement:

Not only did the White House threaten to veto this economy-damaging bill, but it spelled out all the right considerations that should remain central to any future debate over climate change.

  1. Economic pain must be avoided – The last thing people struggling with $4.00 a gallon gasoline need is a new law like S. 3036 that would raise pump prices even further in the years ahead. Ditto electricity and natural gas prices, both of which would also be sharply impacted by the bill. And any measure that kills jobs, especially good paying manufacturing jobs, out to be a dealbreaker. The SAP states this in no uncertain terms.
  2. The answer is technology not mandates – we need further research into means of producing the affordable energy the nation needs in ways that emit less carbon. S. 3036 puts the cart before the horse in that it demands emissions reductions before that technology is available. The administration’s technology-first approach is a good one.
  3. The current hodgepodge of provisions potentially applicable to global warming needs to be rectified before a major bill is added – The President is right to mention the use (some might say misuse) of existing statutes like the Endangered Species Act and Clean Air Act as a way of regulating greenhouse gas emission. This should be dealt with before more climate measures are added.
  4. The focus should be global not unilateral – Given sharp increases in emissions from China and other fast developing nations, the unilateral measures in S. 3036 would do little. Even assuming the worst of global warming, emissions would still go up, and the impact on the earth’s future temperature would likely be too small to even verify – quite remarkable given the multi-trillion dollar price tag.
  5. The bill should not grossly expand the federal government – S. 3036 would create a new bureaucracy with the power to raise and distribute literally trillions of dollars in the revenues raised from energy users. It is as if global warming is being used as an excuse for a new round of big government.