Energy prices and unemployment in Connecticut are expected to spike if the state legislature passes a greenhouse gas control measure supported by Governor John Rowland (R).
SB 595, which has passed out of a joint committee, aims to restrict the state’s greenhouse gas emissions in a manner similar to the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol has been rejected by the United States and has failed to garner sufficient international support for implementation.
Section 3 of SB 595 would require a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010; 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020; and 75 percent to 85 percent below 2001 levels by 2050 (unless another year is set).
High Price to Pay
A study conducted by Charles River Associates for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) concludes a “conservative estimate is that costs per Connecticut household of meeting these caps would be between $700 and $1,300 per year over the next three decades, accompanied by the loss of about 20,000 jobs. Connecticut’s state product would be reduced by about 1.3 percent from baseline levels by 2020, and these losses would either remain stable or grow …
“The state’s budget problems would be worsened,” the report continued, “with lower wages and incomes leading to a loss in tax collections of about $250 million per year by 2010. Moreover, the bill would directly impose costs on the state to set up the trading system, and would raise energy costs for state and local governments.”
Lewis Andrews of the Yankee Institute in Connecticut reports SB 595 could cost Connecticut as much as $8.1 billion. According to Andrews, “Connecticut, facing record budget deficits due to lower-than-expected revenues in 2002 and 2003, should not adopt an overly ambitious greenhouse gas reduction program that costs taxpayer dollars, destroys jobs, and does nothing to protect the environment.”
“Sons of Kyoto”
Sandy Liddy Bourne, director of ALEC’s Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Task Force, noted several states are advancing so-called “Sons-of-Kyoto” legislation to eliminate affordable fossil fuels–such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas–from the nation’s energy mix.
ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Economics Guidebook for State Legislators documents nearly 100 bills introduced in the 2003 legislative session that explicitly seek to regulate carbon dioxide; many additional measures attempt to label carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Taxpayer subsidies of alternative energy and renewable fuels are also multiplying in the states as back-door approaches to eliminating carbon-based fuels.
“Carbon dioxide, the inescapable by-product of burning fossil fuels, is beneficial to plant and human life alike. The effort to regulate it as a greenhouse gas is an attempt to tax energy.” said Bourne. “Losing fuel diversity can only be harmful to our economy and ultimately the environment itself.”
Bourne reports the states that appear closest to regulating carbon dioxide emissions at this time are Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. States that already regulate carbon dioxide in some form include California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Oregon.
“States should reject every form of Kyoto legislation for the very same reasons as our leaders in Washington DC,” said Bourne. “The Kyoto Protocol is just another highly regressive energy tax on America’s working families, with no measurable benefit to environmental or human health.”
According to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), fossil fuels supply 70 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 84 percent of the country’s total energy usage. According to Bourne, the cost of reducing carbon emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels, as required by the Kyoto Protocol, would range from $130 billion to $400 billion annually.
For the average American, electricity costs would increase by as much as 86 percent under the Kyoto Protocol; gasoline prices could rise 66 cents per gallon; fuel oil prices would rise by as much as 76 percent; and natural gas prices would skyrocket by as much as 147 percent above current prices.
According to a study released in 2003 by The Heartland Institute, if Connecticut enacts legislation similar to the Kyoto Protocol, the average Connecticut household will pay more than $6,200 per year in higher-priced goods and services and lost income. The state government could lose more than $2 billion in tax revenue each year.
Importantly, the Nutmeg State’s economic suffering will have no measurable impact on climate. Computer models project worldwide implementation of the Kyoto Protocol would reduce global temperatures over the next century by just 0.13º Celsius. By going it alone, Connecticut will carry the full economic burden of Kyoto while affecting global temperatures in a way far too small to measure.
James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is [email protected].
For more information …
A summary and map of greenhouse gas action in the states can be found on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Web site at http://www.ALEC.org.