Senate Should Oppose Energy Rationing

Published May 1, 2003

April 4, 2003

To Senator Pete Domenici, Chairman
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Dear Chairman Domenici:

The undersigned organizations write to share our views on the climate title in the draft comprehensive energy legislation prepared by your committee’s staff.

The draft bill in our view is better in almost every respect than Senator Daschle’s bill passed by the Senate last year. Unlike that misguided legislation, your committee’s draft contains provisions to allow greater access to domestic energy resources and to create the conditions necessary for private enterprise to rebuild and enlarge America’s inadequate energy infrastructure.

Nearly as importantly, the draft does not contain the chief provisions in the Daschle bill that would limit energy supplies and raise prices; most especially, it does not contain a Renewable Portfolio Standard for electricity production.

Because we share your commitment to policies that will promote continuing abundant supplies of affordable energy to American consumers and producers, we were surprised to find that your committee’s draft contains a climate change title. We believe this title is ill-considered and, if enacted in anything like its present form, its effects will in the long run overwhelm the many positive elements in the bill. It would in our view create the institutional and legal framework and the political incentives necessary eventually to force Kyoto-style energy rationing on the American people.

Even more disturbingly to us, it would set us on this path without engaging in a full national debate over its enormous consequences. Instead, including this climate title in comprehensive energy legislation seems to assume the debate is over, even though that debate has never occurred.

It seems to us that before we settle on the main provisions of this climate title, we would first have to agree that global warming alarmism is scientifically warranted, that there are benefits as well as costs to these policies, and that it is inevitable we are soon going to be living in a carbon-constrained world. We question each of those assumptions.

We specifically call your attention to three main provisions in the climate title:

1) Requiring a national strategy to “stabilize and over time reduce net U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases” plus annual reports. Directing the executive to produce a national strategy concedes the global warming debate and puts the U.S. on a dead-end path to future energy rationing. As the discredited National Assessment demonstrates, annual reports will be used to promote alarmism and attack government for not doing enough. And if the strategy’s objectives were actually implemented, the costs would be colossal and the benefits nil.

2) Reviving the Clinton-Gore administration’s White House climate czar and bureaucracy. Legislating a White House climate czar and office will institutionalize global warming as a problem, which means it will never go away, even after global warming alarmism has been discredited. Single-mission agencies usually are captured by their clients, become lobbyists for their issue, and cannot objectively evaluate the costs of their policies.

3) Setting up a program to award credits for early actions to reduce emissions. Awarding credits for early actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will create a powerful big business cartel to lobby for mandatory caps on emissions. This is because early action credits will not have value until an emissions cap forces energy users to buy credits.

We would like to be able to tell you that we are going to be devoting our time and resources in the months ahead to educating the public on the many positive elements in your comprehensive energy legislation. Unfortunately, however, if the bill contains a climate title with these three provisions, we fear our time and resources will instead be diverted to exposing the shortcomings of that objectionable concoction.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns.

Fred Smith, President
Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Paul M. Weyrich, National Chairman
Coalitions for America

Grover Norquist, President
Americans for Tax Reform

Malcolm Wallop, Chairman
Frontiers of Freedom

David A. Keene, Chairman
American Conservative Union

Paul Gessing, Director of Government Affairs
National Taxpayers Union

James P. Backlin, Director of Legislative Affairs
Christian Coalition of America

Amy Ridenour, President
National Center for Public Policy Research

Darrell McKigney, President
Small Business Survival Committee

Richard Lessner, Executive Director
American Renewal

Tom DeWeese, President
American Policy Center

Chuck Muth, President
Citizen Outreach

Steven Milloy, President
Citizens for the Integrity of Science

Ronald Pearson, President
Council for America

Kevin L. Kearns, President
U. S. Business and Industry Council

Dennis Avery, Director
Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute

Jim Boulet Jr., Executive Director
English First

Joan L. Hueter, President
American Council for Immigration Reform

C Preston Noell III, President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Benjamin C. Works, Executive Director
(Strategic Issues Research Institute of the U.S.)