Seven months after first trying
to re-brand congressional climate change legislation as an "energy
tax," Senate Republicans were back at it today with a new report and op-ed that attempts to expose the climate bill as a "$3.6 trillion gas tax."
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Kit Bond (R-MO) gathered outside the
Capitol today, flanked by aides wearing black stickers imprinted with
the slogan "CAP & TRADE = GAS TAX," to promote a new report [PDF] that presents their "gas tax" assertions.
did Hutchison and Bond get to their $3.6 trillion total, which their
report calls "relatively simple and straightforward to calculate"? They
simply multiplied their estimate of how much fuel the U.S. would
consume between now and 2050 by their estimate of the per-gallon gas
price increase that would result from an economy-wide emissions cap.
Hutchison and Bond got their numbers from the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), a business group that released projections on the cost of the House climate legislation at around the same time it joined the official astro-turf lobbying campaign against the bill. The NBCC's analysis, produced by consulting firm CRA International, is one of many competing cost estimates for the climate bill, each of them relying on different assumptions and models that claim to predict the future price of carbon under the pending legislation.
fact, the NBCC analysis states (in Appendix C) that it has assumed
higher CO2 allowance prices than the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) analysis of the same House climate bill, thus resulting in higher
estimates for the plan's impact on real-world carbon prices.
does the EPA say about the House climate bill's likely effect on fuel
prices? Its analysis found a 25-cent per-gallon increase by 2030, or
less than three pennies per gallon per year -- small potatoes compared
to the oil price swings of recent years, as the Pew Center on Global
Climate Change pointed out.
Center for American Progress senior fellow Joe Romm has delved further into the claim, promoted by the oil industry,
that a cap on carbon emissions would increase gas prices. Using the
non-partisan Congressional Budget Office's estimate of allowance
prices, Romm found a per-gallon gas price increase similar to the EPA's.
it's unlikely that Hutchison and Bond would be fazed by economic models
that discredit their case. Although they told reporters at today's
event that they support cutting carbon emissions, the first page of
their report makes clear that they dislike the very idea of more
moderate energy consumption:
Advocates of climate
change legislation want to increase the price of traditional forms of
carbon-based energy, such as coal and oil, so that consumers are forced
to respond by using less of those forms of energy. Policy-makers call
this putting a price on carbon. Economists call this sending a price
signal. The bottom line is that the price of energy will go up.
More expensive energy from climate legislation can be seen as a new national energy tax on American consumers and workers.