Climate Change and Public Policy
We have already seen the issue used as the impetus for hydraulic fracturing bans, renewable portfolio standards, carbon taxes, and other energy and environment policies. All of these policies have been at least partly motivated by the fear of catastrophic man-made global warming.
You may recently have received a copy of The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism, which Heartland sent you by mail to help you learn more about the issue. Edwin Berry, a Ph.D. physicist and meteorologist, says “Goreham’s book is an excellent, readable, comprehensive, and indispensable education for everyone. It should be required reading in all schools, universities, statehouses and Congress.”
We are pleased to have the book’s author, Steve Goreham, as our special guest for Heartland’s monthly Emerging Issues Conference Call on Wednesday, June 5 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific. Mr. Goreham will give an overview of the book and answer your questions regarding energy and environment public policy issues. To RSVP, please email Robin Knox at [email protected] to make sure you receive all the information for the call.
This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing renewable mandates in Nevada, skyrocketing health insurance premiums in New Mexico, spectrum auctions, tax reform in North Carolina, and monetary manipulation.
Research & Commentary: Nevada Renewable Portfolio Standard
Nevada legislators are considering adjusting the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The RPS requires utilities to obtain a specified percentage of their power from renewable sources by a certain date. Twenty-two of the 29 states with such mandates in place have considered changing those laws in the past two years.
Nevada’s current RPS requires NV Energy to supply 25 percent of its total retail electricity through eligible renewable energy resources, with at least 6 percent being from solar. One proposal the legislature is considering would prohibit energy-efficiency measures from being counted toward the RPS mandate, forcing the state’s public utility to rely even more heavily on expensive, unreliable renewable sources.
Supporters of the RPS say the mandates are necessary to reduce pollution, will lead to the creation of “green” jobs, and will only marginally increase electricity prices. However, there is little evidence the mandate will benefit the environment. Renewable sources such as wind and solar technologies are intermittent and thus require fossil fuel generators to back them up. Running fossil fuel generators in this way can emit more pollutants than if they were used as primary power sources.
A joint report by the Nevada Policy Research Institute and Beacon Hill Institute found the mandate would increase the average Nevada household’s electricity bill by $70 per year, increase commercial businesses’ electricity costs by an expected $400 per year, and increase industrial businesses’ electricity costs by $26,220 per year.
These increases in energy costs will have negative effects on the economy. By 2025, Nevada’s employment will be lowered by an expected 1,930 jobs, and real disposable income will be reduced by $233 million.
Rolling back the Nevada RPS instead of increasing it would make energy more affordable for consumers, attract more business investment, and lead to more net job creation. It also would allow more efficient use of these resources and minimize dangerous emissions. Nevada should not mandate the use of certain types of energy and instead should encourage development of economically competitive energy sources through non-distorting regulatory and tax policies.
New Mexico Premium Costs Expected to Skyrocket
Although Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admits some premiums will increase, she argues the impact will be minimal and people “are really going to see much benefit for the money.”
The Society of Actuaries has released a report concluding premium costs for individual health plans—an industry expected to get more crowded as the Affordable Care Act kicks in starting in 2014—will rise by an average of 34.9 percent in New Mexico and 31.5 percent throughout the United States once the landmark law is fully enacted.
Just five states—Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts—will see reductions in individual health care plan costs.
Common Core: Poor Choice for Wisconsin
This week, Heartland Research Fellow Joy Pullmann testified before a Joint Committee on Education in Wisconsin in opposition to the state adopting Common Core education standards. Let Heartland know if you would like Joy to come to your state to testify on this or another education issue.
From her testimony: “Common Core has never been pilot tested anywhere in the world. It is entirely experimental. So we have no proof that what it demands of kids, and how, improves their achievement. Further, to assume that one progression of learning fits every one of the 50 million American, or 865,000 Wisconsin, students is beyond arrogant—it is an affront to human diversity, freedom, and dignity.”
Research & Commentary: Undermining a Successful Spectrum Auction System
The increasing number of wireless devices, including cell phones, tablets, and laptops, has made wireless airspace a hot commodity. This airspace, known as spectrum, is a limited resource. Only certain portions of the spectrum are usable and available for communications purposes, so telecom companies fight for and pay high prices to lay claim to these frequencies.
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans argues greater government control of spectrum would undermine what has been a very successful system. The government already has badly botched the release of unused spectrum, slowly releasing usable spectrum while hoarding some of the best for itself.
Research & Commentary: North Carolina Tax Reform
The North Carolina Tax Fairness Act, introduced in May by Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, lowers both personal and corporate income taxes, cuts the franchise business tax, abolishes the death tax, and lowers the sales tax rate while broadening the tax base.
In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines the proposed tax reform and argues in favor of its implementation. “High income and business taxes deter economic development by discouraging higher-income-earners and new capital from moving into a state, remaining there, or investing their money. This tax reform plan would improve North Carolina’s economic competitiveness by leaving more money in the pockets of the state’s citizens and businesses to spend, save, and invest.”
Ebeling also points out the Fed’s own role in the crisis. The Fed played a central role in creating the bubbles that burst in 2008–2009, and since the crisis began the Fed has been buying up historically huge amounts of U.S. securities and mortgages.
“The mind-set of those at the helm of the Federal Reserve reflects a belief that having control over the tools of monetary policymaking assures the power to effectively and successfully control an entire economy. Instead, we are no doubt heading for the bad consequences of another example of what F.A. Hayek called ‘the pretense of knowledge’ on the part of the social engineers.”