Joint Letter on the Energy Policy Act of 2002

Published November 1, 2002

September 24, 2002

The Honorable Billy Tauzin
Conference Committee on the Energy Policy Act of 2002
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Tauzin:

We strongly support your efforts, as Chairman of the Conference Committee on the Energy Policy Act of 2002, to ensure the bill does not become a vehicle for anti-energy policies that penalize consumers, seniors, taxpayers and the economy.

Several provisions in the Senate version would make U.S. energy supplies less abundant, less affordable, and less reliable. Some would waste tax dollars for the benefit of special interests. Some would establish the Kyoto agenda of climate alarmism and energy rationing as a central organizing principle of U.S. economic policy.

Here is a short list of what we consider the most misguided provisions of the Senate bill.

Title II, section 264, Renewable Portfolio Standard. This section would require utilities to generate 10 percent of their electricity from so-called renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, but not hydropower) by 2020. Despite tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies over almost three decades, renewable energy technologies supply only 2.21 percent of total U.S. electric power. Wind provides just 0.13 percent of U.S. electricity, while solar provides only 0.02 percent. The marketplace has spoken. Compelling power producers to use uneconomical energy sources will unavoidably make electricity more expensive for consumers. Congress should pull the plug on this failed experiment, not entrench and expand it.

Title X—National Climate Change Policy. The opening “Sense of Congress on Climate Change” section of this title is unvarnished alarmism, replete with scary predictions of rapid sea-level rise, insect-borne disease epidemics, and temperature increases up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Such predictions are not based on climate science, but on discredited computer models that cannot even “predict” the past century’s temperature record. The section urges the United States to participate in the Kyoto treaty process, lauds the Kyoto policy mechanisms, and heavy-handedly implies that current U.S. international efforts fall short of “responsible action.” If this provision becomes law, it will empower all those who seek, by legislation, regulation, and litigation, to constrain and impoverish America’s energy future. Title X also requires the White House to develop a strategy for “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations.” Under current and foreseeable technology options, the only way to accomplish this goal is through draconian cutbacks in energy use.

Title XI—National Greenhouse Gas Database. The purpose of this title could not be clearer: establish the monitoring and enforcement infrastructure for a future, Kyoto-inspired greenhouse gas regulatory regime. The database starts out “voluntary” but turns mandatory after five years if companies representing 60 percent of estimated total greenhouse gas emissions decline to “volunteer.” Although the mandatory phase at first will apply only to companies that emit more than 10,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent, one need not be a weatherman to know which way this wind will blow. The threshold will be lowered repeatedly, to control an ever-wider segment of the economy, just as the income tax first applied only to wealthy individuals and gradually expanded into a universal tax.

Title XIII—Climate Change Science and Technology. This title directs the Commerce Department within two years to begin producing national, regional, state, and local vulnerability assessments. This short-term response to a potential long-term problem would be poor policy under any circumstances, but it is plainly silly given the inability of current modeling to provide plausible forecasts of regional, state, or local impacts of climate change. The Commerce Department is also directed to develop preparedness recommendations, including recommendations for federal acquisition and zoning. This language is straight out of the Gore campaign proposal.

Although many other provisions in the Senate version ill serve taxpayers, consumers, and those who, like many seniors, must pay for energy costs out of fixed incomes, the four provisions discussed above should be deal breakers. Congress cannot enact a 10 percent renewable portfolio standard, a pro-Kyoto credo on climate change, a pre-Kyoto monitoring and enforcement institutional framework, and the Gore climate action plan without committing the United States to an anti-energy policy

We are heartened that President Bush joins you in opposing those provisions. Again, we applaud your efforts to protect the American people from an anti-growth, anti-consumer agenda masquerading as energy policy.


Mary M. Martin
The Seniors Coalition

Malcolm Wallop
Frontiers of Freedom

Paul Beckner
Citizens for a Sound Economy

John Berthoud
National Taxpayers Union

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Alex St. James
African American Republican Leadership Council

Fred L. Smith, Jr.
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Tom DeWeese
American Policy Center

Frances B. Smith
Consumer Alert*

* Affiliation noted for identification purposes only

cc: Members of the Conference Committee

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