August 10, 2022

It’s a Climate Change Emergency!

The Son of Build Back Better is another boondoggle focused on climate change.

Joe Biden couldn’t get Congress to approve his Build Back Better platform initially, so the Democrats went back to the drawing board and changed … the name and the dollar amount. While it still has to go back to the House because the Senate amended it, that’s considered a formality after the bill passed the Senate on a straight partisan vote, 51-50, with Kamala Harris breaking the tie.

It’s now deceitfully dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Our focus here isn’t going to be the tax increases or thousands of new IRS agents included in the bill, as we’ve covered these things elsewhere. Instead, with a little help from some trusted friends, we’ll look at this particular aspect of the Green New Deal enactment and its effects.

These bills are notorious for last-minute changes, but last week the Tax Foundation did an analysis of the IRA and decreed that, excluding tax credits, there’s $116 billion in spending on energy and climate in the bill to go with $282.3 billion in energy-related tax credits (read: Solyndra on steroids) for the government to give out like candy to favored interests over the next decade. That number doesn’t quite jibe with the Democrats’ announced spending — oh, sorry, they call it “investment” — on the package, which they peg at $369 billion, but it’s close. And what’s a few billion among friends?

So what will all these giveaways pay for? Earlier this summer, those in the know were treated to a lengthy analysis by The Heritage Foundation that calculated “The Unsustainable Costs of President Biden’s Climate Agenda,” of which the IRA is certainly a part. Its three key takeaways were that the Biden administration’s climate goals are unrealistic, attempting to get to those goals through a carbon tax would reduce both our GDP and employment, and all of that damage would result in little change to global temperatures.

This is the current state of play, as Heritage sees it in discussing our compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement, in particular our National Determined Contribution (NDC):

In April 2021, the Biden Administration submitted a new NDC for the U.S. to reduce GHG emissions by 50 percent to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Further, the Administration set a goal of fully decarbonizing the electricity sector by 2035, and to reach economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050. While the Administration frequently refers to these as “our” goals, Americans’ representatives in Congress have not acceded to them either in the form of the “advice and consent” of the Senate required for a treaty, nor through concurring and supporting legislation and appropriations.

Though other countries, particularly developing ones, have made commitments without legally binding frameworks, America’s targets likely will be binding in practice through domestic laws, regulations, and executive actions. Extreme environmental organizations also are almost certain to sue federal regulatory agencies, states, and private companies to enforce the Biden Administration’s NDC should the U.S. not meet it. To date, the federal courts have adopted a variety of responses to the Biden and previous Administrations’ climate-related regulations, granting deference to some regulatory agencies and checking executive action in others.

Remember, this was a “new” NDC because President Donald Trump wisely backed us out of the Paris Climate Agreement upon taking office.

In looking at these goals, Heritage found them so unrealistic that compliance broke their model, which is essentially, with a few modest tweaks, a clone of the federal Energy Information Administration’s National Energy Modeling System. That model could not handle a carbon tax of over $300 a ton, which if enacted would still only achieve a 44% reduction in CO2 emissions, short of the 50% Biden promised the Paris Climate Agreement organizers. Yet the costs would be staggering: an overall job loss of 1.2 million, with an average family of four taking a $5,100 income hit each year. Over the period 2022-2040, Heritage projected, our aggregate GDP loss would be $7.7 trillion, and families would be paying an average of $2 more a gallon for gas and 23% more for electricity.

We’ll grant that the tax credits being passed out by the Biden regime will act a little differently than a strict carbon tax as studied by The Heritage Foundation, but there will still be a significant effect on the energy market as we continue to subsidize unreliable wind and solar power at the expense of reliable — and in the case of nuclear, carbon-free — sources of energy.

And yet it won’t be enough for some. There are a growing number of climate alarmists who fret that the science isn’t taking into account a climate doomsday scenario. These alarmists “aren’t saying that worst is going to happen,” according to the AP. “They say the trouble is no one knows how likely or unlikely a ‘climate endgame’ is and the world needs those calculations to battle global warming.” Yet they also concede that “humans are incredibly resilient,” and that’s where we will hang our hat on this one.

Once mankind abandons the folly of believing that humans can have a drastic effect on the climate, we believe it will become easier for us to adapt to whatever nature throws our way. Mankind’s only done it for thousands of years without green energy mandates and carbon taxes, so why change what works?

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