|Blunt image from SemoTimes|
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) introduced an amendment to the FY2016 budget today to protect families in Missouri and across America from a carbon tax, which would lead to skyrocketing energy costs for families nationwide. Blunt’s amendment, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator John Thune (S.D.), would create a Point of Order against any bill that contains a tax or fee on carbon emissions from sources that are direct or indirect sources of emissions. To read the text of the amendment, click here.This amendment's intent is to preempt legislation that would create a carbon fee or tax and require 60 votes to override this amendment. The press release also falsely predicts rising energy costs and lost jobs. (Actually, it probably depends on the assumptions they made about what such a fee would look like, assumptions that are radically different from the carbon fee proposal of Citizens Climate Lobby that I'll discuss below.)
SEMO Times [Southeast Missouri], seems to just print the press release as is:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) introduced an amendment to the FY2016 budget today to protect families in Missouri and across America from a carbon tax, which would lead to skyrocketing energy costs for families nationwide. Blunt’s amendment, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator John Thune (S.D.), would create a Point of Order against any bill that contains a tax or fee on carbon emissions from sources that are direct or indirect sources of emissions. To read the text of the amendment, click here.
Actually, a carbon fee, such as the one proposed by the Citizens Climate Lobby, would distribute the money raised by the fee back to the American public - much like the Alaska Permanent Fund.
"A national carbon price, with full revenue return and border adjustments, will do four things:I know about this because I'm a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby and I've been going to their monthly international phone meetings and have done the homework to see that the carbon fee proposal is the most politically feasible option to reduce carbon emissions. A carbon fee is supported by a number of conservatives because it uses market forces rather than regulation.
- internalize the social cost of carbon-based fuels,
- rapidly achieve large emission reductions,
- stimulate the economy &
- recruit global participation."
A REMI study showed that the 'dividend' paid back to the public would off-set any additional costs of carbon products.
"The results of the study demonstrate that there are probable benefits to taxing carbon dioxide emissions and returning the money to consumers through F&D [Fee and Dividend]. The following are highlights of the national level results of the study in 2025.
- 2.1 million more jobs under the F&D carbon tax than in the baseline
33% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from baseline conditions
- 13,000 premature deaths saved from improvements in air quality
These principal results are not to say the outcome is universally positive, and there are certain industries and regions in the United States that may do better or worse under a carbon pricing system. For example, the industries tied directly to households, such as healthcare, retail, and housing construction, tend to do well because F&D increases the overall level of consumer spending. There are other important results in 2025. The F&D rebates return nearly $400 billion to households—or almost $300 per month for a family of four, and the carbon tax aids in retirements of coal plants and accelerates investments in wind, solar, and nuclear power. The impact to the total cost of living is less than 3% from the baseline, and gross domestic product (GDP) increases between $80 billion and $90 billion."
"Such a carbon tax would begin at $10 per metric ton in 2016 and escalate in a linear fashion at $10 per year upward, although this study’s timeline ends with the models’ horizon in 2035."REMI (Regional Economic Models Inc.) is an economic modeliing research company that specializes in projecting the economic impacts of various proposals on the economies of states and the US as a whole. It used the same basic model it uses for the many studies commissioned by US states and its assumptions about the carbon fee were those in the CCL carbon fee proposed legislation. CCL commissioned the study.
In contrast, a study by NERA, presumably the same study or a similar one used for the dire predictions of Sen. Blunt's press release used different assumptions:
"A carbon tax that begins at $20/metric ton of co2 in 2013 and increases at 4 percent per year."The revenue is not used to pay US consumers as in the CCL proposal that REMI tested.
So, while the NERA study is probably just as accurate as the REMI study, it starts with different and questionable assumptions and numbers. I didn't find the proposed legislation they used to make those assumptions. The way to produce the kind of results your clients want is to use the right assumptions as you start your modeling.
So, which study should you believe? One commissioned and paid for by corporate interests whose basic product is the source of climate change or one commissioned by a citizens group that is concerned with the sustainability of the planet and whose motivation stems from concern for their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren? Actually, CCL was hoping that such a study would show that the economic impacts were much less damaging than opponents (like Blunt) claimed. They were pleasantly surprised to find out the impacts would actually add jobs and stimulate the economy. There certainly can be biases in both studies, but we seen how the tobacco industry fought tooth and nail to hide the health effects of tobacco and a new movie - Merchants of Doubt - is supposed to show how a similar campaign is being waged to attack legitimate climate change science.
Sourcewatch (Center for Media and Democracy) has this entry about NERA and a study for the coal industry:
In June 2011, a coal industry front group, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) released a report stating that clean-air rules proposed by the Obama administration would cost utilities $17.8 billion annually and raise electricity rates 11.5 percent on average in 2016.Unfortunately, this doesn't analyze the data or compare it to other studies on the topic. Its key point is that the study was for a coal company front group that Bloomberg says was a campaign to delay regulations. A red flag, but not quite damning proof.
ACCCE paid for National Economic Research Associates Inc. to conduct the report, which a Bloomberg report described "as part of a campaign to delay compliance deadlines in the pending rules." The report estimated that regulations cutting emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides would lead to the “premature” retirements of coal-fired power plants that can generate 47.8 gigawatts of electricity, about 15 percent of coal’s U.S. production capacity.
Representative Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the energy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said he plans to introduce a bill to give utilities more time to comply with the rules. New maximum levels for nitrogen oxides, a component of smog, and sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, are scheduled to take effect in 2012. The US Environmental Protection Agency is under a court order to produce a final mercury rule in November 2011. Utilities would have as long as four years to meet the mercury standard.
I found this portrait of Blunt on what appears to be a Boston College Model United Nations website.
The United States Chamber of Commerce has awarded Blunt a 97% pro-business rating, he has consistently voted in favor of deregulation, and he maintains close ties with the Koch Brothers in Kansas City. [Koch's are headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, just 63 miles from Kansas City, Missouri.] With a son that was a former governor and considerable real estate holdings in Missouri, Blunt is among the most powerful Senators in terms of constituent influence. Among the largest businesses located in Missouri is Monstanto. Blunt's Farmers Assurance Provision was dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act" by liberal lawmakers. It is more than likely that Blunt maintains close ties with Hugh Grant, Pierre Courduroux, and Brett Begemann, Chief Executives at Monsanto. Blunt is consistently accused of promoting corporations and providing slack to companies that benefit his son, Andrew, and power brokers in Missouri.
Blunt allies with Senator Ted Cruz, as well as much of the Tea Party core with his radical stance on healthcare. Conversely, his conservative stances on business, social issues, and public insurance enrage Democratic leadership.
I think there are probably a lot of loose ends here, but you get the point. It probably wouldn't hurt to call your Senator - whatever state you're in - and let him or her know that you oppose this amendment and they should vote against it.