What in the world is happening? Almost one year to the day after the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace predicted “China’s economy will surpass that of the United States by 2035 and be twice its size by midcentury,” three ominous events may have been largely missed by the American people after the Independence Day holiday.
At a July 7 Senate hearing on the effect cap-and-trade would have on global carbon output without cooperation from China and India, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared, “U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels.”
On July 9, the Sierra Club issued a statement celebrating that 100 planned American coal power plants have been “defeated or abandoned.”
On July 8, Fortune magazine released its annual ranking of the world’s 500 largest companies. The number of American companies on that list dropped to its lowest level since Fortune began its review.
The United States had 153 Fortune 500 companies in 2008, but just 140 this year.
China increased its share of companies from 29 in 2008 to 37 in ’09. A Chinese firm even cracked the top 10 for the first time.
Punishing the U.S. Economy
Obviously the global warming alarmists are focused on raising the cost of affordable energy for every American family and small business.
Administrator Jackson, one of the environmental movement’s biggest advocates, admits that India and China’s opposition to mandatory emission controls means U.S. action will have no effect on global carbon dioxide levels.
But the environmental special-interest groups continue to push a cap-and-trade scheme. The plan is designed to drive up the cost of coal, oil, and natural gas, which account for 85 percent of the energy that fuels our economy and way of life.
With more Americans out of work than we’ve seen in decades, and with families losing their homes, is now the time—if ever—to increase energy costs across the board?
The Sierra Club thinks so. Its six-year assault on new, affordable electricity generation has successfully destroyed 100 planned or proposed coal-fired power plants in the United States and the thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars’ worth of economic development they would have created.
In total, the club has stopped 61 gigawatts of new, affordable electric capacity from reaching American consumers. This obstruction persists even as our electricity demand has outstripped our growth in generating capacity by three to one, according to a North American Electricity Reliability Council report from last October.
China Enjoying Cheap Energy
To keep electricity supply meeting increasing demand and continue to boost its economy and improve the quality of life of its citizens, China has been building coal-fired power plants aggressively. It’s completing almost three new plants per month.
By 2020, China will generate roughly the same amount of electricity from coal as the United States does from all sources—coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydro. At the same time, according to the International Energy Agency, China has “become the major world market for advanced coal-fired power plants with high-specification emission control systems.”
China gets it. The Chinese have signaled their intention to avoid any international agreement on climate change that requires slowing their growth. Reliable supplies of affordable energy enable economic growth and prosperity—a lesson some of our leaders in Congress and at the White House seem to have forgotten.
Key to Prosperity
Our competitors understand that affordable energy is the lifeblood of prosperity. While we turn our backs on our own resources, China is doing the opposite.
While China moves forward, plans from Washington continue to make us less competitive. Rationing our energy through heavy government regulation and attacking our most affordable sources of energy—under the guise of stopping global warming—is unilateral economic disarmament.
Developing countries, like China and India, are too smart to fall prey to such schemes that will lessen one’s competitive edge in the global market, force more jobs and investment overseas, and worsen economic outlooks.
George Allen is a former senator, congressman, and governor of Virginia. He is chairman of the American Energy Freedom Center. This article originally appeared in Investor’s Business Daily and is reprinted with permission.