The proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act, which narrowly passed the House last Friday, is a “public policy abomination” that “should be opposed by open-minded climate scientists and climate economists of all political persuasions,” an executive told the Texas Energy Summit Wednesday.
The summit, held at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, brought together energy experts and elected officials to discuss HR 2454 and its possible impacts on Texas and the nation. The bill cleared the House by a vote of 219-212 and now awaits Senate action (see Daily GPI, June 30; June 29).
Robert L. Bradley Jr., CEO of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), spared nothing in his criticism of the legislation. The nonprofit IER, which also has blasted cap-and-trade emissions plans and disputed job creation figures for green industries, maintains that freely functioning energy markets provide the “most efficient and effective” solutions to global energy and environmental challenges. HR 2454 doesn’t pass muster, Bradley said.
“HR 2454 is a recipe for public policy failure and wealth destruction,” Bradley said. It “is all pain and no gain; it is punitive regulation for its own sake. There is no public purpose in this proposal, because it cannot pass a realistic cost/benefit test.”
As far as benefits, the legislation is “climatically inconsequential,” he said. “Even the unrealistic aspirational goal of an 83% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions by 2050 would avoid only .09 of one degree Fahrenheit warming if you believe the high-climate-sensitivity climate models — and even that estimate may be too high.”
A “federal renewable mandate would force unneeded, uneconomic energies into the grid — sources that are more expensive to produce, still more expensive to transmit and unreliable or intermittent,” he said. “Consumers and taxpayers lose, as do those states with less renewable infrastructure and/or potential.”
However, Bradley, who once worked on public policy analysis for Enron Corp., said the “real danger” of the bill “is that it puts in place the machinery of economic and social control that will be very difficult to undo…New regulatory regimes typically expand, not shrink and disappear. Waxman-Markey [the HR 2454 bill] is just the opening stanza of something that is likely to grow and worsen once in place.”
The climate bill, in Bradley’s opinion, “is easily the worst piece of federal legislation since the passage of the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973, which put Americans in the gasoline lines in 1974 and 1979 and replaced domestic production with OPEC imports barrel-for-barrel.”
Patrick French, senior vice president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP), said the legislation would damage the state’s energy industry.
“Texans will be hit especially hard, because Texas is the largest consumer of energy and producer of crude oil and natural gas in the country,” French told the summit participants.
“Texas Comptroller Susan Combs recently estimated that in 2012 Texas could lose 135,000 to as many as 275,000 jobs,” French said of the climate bill’s impact. “And by 2030 job loss in Texas could exceed 400,000. The cost to the Texas economy would be $20 billion annually in direct economic activity and growing each year because the legislation becomes more restrictive in later years.”
The 3,200 members of TAEP “find it hard to believe that nine members of the House from Texas voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the bill,” French said. “If those nine had voted with the other 23 Texans, the bill would have failed.”
With a global recession pressuring U.S. companies, “now is a very bad time to pass this bill that will definitely create more volatility in energy prices, increase fossil fuel prices and send the economy into a deeper recession,” French said. “The alliance encourages the Senate to move cautiously before enacting such legislation.”
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