Guest column: A clear power grab on climate

David W. Kreutzer The Heritage Foundation

Recently, President Obama visited Alaska to drum up support for his climate agenda. But it’s becoming clear this agenda is not, in fact, about climate. Instead, it’s the typical Washington story of power and money— other people’s money.

Alaska provided the apparent novelty
of ice that melts in the summer, which was used as a theatrical prop for the president. His photo op in front of the retreating Exit Glacier glossed over another bit of reality: The Exit Glacier started retreating more than 100 years before the start of significant man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

In a bit of bonus irony, the climate research center at the University of Alaska’s data show there has been no warming trend in Alaska since 1977. In fact, the trend is slightly negative.

All this misdirection is for promoting an agenda with its most prominent part being the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The agenda and the CPP are based on three bits of, shall we say, “fraudiness.”

The first bit is the assertion that carbon dioxide is dirty. Carbon dioxide is a color– less, odorless and non-toxic gas. The president and his supporters keep referring to it as “carbon pollution.” They also assert that, until the formation of the CPP, there were no regulations on the amount of “carbon pollution” power plants could emit.

To be sure, there is carbon pollution, but it is not carbon dioxide. The common name for carbon pollution is “soot,” and there have been regulatory limits on soot for decades. Due to these limits and the general improvement in technology, a modern coal-fired power plant cuts soot emissions by more than 99 percent compared to plants without the new technology. In spite of the phenomenal increase in power production since the late 1970s, total air pollution has actually declined significantly.

Second, virtually all extreme weather is blamed on global warming, with the inevi- table prediction of worsening conditions to come. However, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contradict this fear-mongering. They show no trend in hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts or floods.

The third bit is that the CPP is a climate policy. Using the EPA’s own climate model, climatologists at the Cato Institute calculated the impact of the CPP on world temperature. The result? By the end of this century, the CPP’s maximum impact would reduce world temperature by 0.019 of a degree—well within the margin of error. The projected impact on sea-level rise is equally ridiculous—just 0.01 inches by 2100.

The CPP’s climate benefit may be negli gible and distant, but the CPP’s economic cost will be large and immediate. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), in the decade of the 2020s, lost GDP will total $1 trillion and total employment will fall by as much as 500,000 jobs.

However, while our country’s economic pie will be shrinking, it will be recut in ways that bring great wealth to some. The tools
of carbon policy—taxes, mandates, government loans, subsidies, cap and trade, etc.— divert the flow of wealth towards those with the necessary political power.

The CPP is just another plan to grab power and money—your money. 

David W. Kreutzer is an author and researcher for The Heritage Foundation.