Poisoning the economy

Roy Innis

2/2/2008 7:26:20 PM - Roy Innis

Congress and the White House, Democrats and Republicans finally agree on something!

We need a stimulus package, they intone. The economy is stagnating, unemployment is climbing, families can’t pay their bills. We have to prime the pump, reduce interest rates, increase unemployment benefits, provide temporary tax relief.

These unlicensed physicians are prescribing aspirin to counteract the poisons they routinely inject into our economy, while they prepare even bigger doses of arsenic.

Every one of these supposed shots of economic adrenaline is counteracted by toxic policies that drive up prices, cause layoffs and put families on energy welfare. It would be laughable, if it weren’t so hypocritical.

Oil, gas, coal and other resources on America’s citizen-owned public lands could meet US energy needs for centuries. Developing these resources – with full regard for ecological values – would generate jobs, economic growth and tax revenues, stabilize energy prices, and reduce our need to buy oil from unfriendly countries.

Onshore and offshore public lands could hold enough oil to produce gasoline for 60 million cars and fuel oil for 25 million homes for 60 years – and enough natural gas to heat 60 million homes for 160 years.

But Energy Killer legislators, regulators, courts and eco activists have made most of them unavailable to the workers and families who own them. In addition, a Utah area with a trillion dollars worth of public coal was placed off-limits by President Clinton. Nuclear power has been in a regulatory stranglehold for decades. And activists blocked construction of dozens of coal-fired electricity plants in 2007.

The “energy” legislation President Bush just signed doesn’t foster the production of a single drop of oil, whiff of natural gas, or kilowatt of new coal or nuclear power. No wonder OPEC ministers rejected his plea to increase oil production. Instead, the bill:

* Adds $6,000 to the price of new cars, while reducing passenger safety, by forcing manufacturers to downsize cars to meet 35 mpg ratings;

* Replaces billions of incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, necessitating expensive recycling facilities that can safely handle the mercury in each CFL;

* Increases ethanol production to 35 billion gallons a year – five times what we produced last year from corn grown on an area the size of Indiana, using 42 billion gallons of water and 5 billion gallons of petroleum (for fertilizers, pesticides and fuel);

* Promotes wind power – although generating enough electricity to power New York City requires huge turbines across an area the size of Connecticut, and they only work eight hours a day on average.

Because they keep our oil and gas locked up, these actions mean every barrel of oil “saved” via these “eco-friendly” measures is offset by reserves we use up and don’t replace. They create a huge energy gap between what we need – and what politicians let us have. Between real energy from fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric power (96% of today’s energy) – and imaginary energy that politicians promise will someday come from wind, solar and ethanol (less than 1% today).

Worse, every ounce of “stimulus” is offset by a pound of new government arsenic.

Some 22,000 magnificent polar bears now roam the Arctic, and their numbers continue to increase. But bureaucrats and environmental activists want the bears designated as a “threatened” species.

Doing so would put courts and bureaucrats in charge of any activity that produces greenhouse gases: heating, cooling, transportation and manufacturing … bakeries, dry cleaners, hotels, office and apartment buildings, cement plants and dairy farms. The price of everything we do, eat, drive and wear would soar; jobs would disappear; and for millions the American Dream would slip out of reach.

Energy Killers justify these demands by pointing to computer models that conjure up disaster scenarios in which rising carbon dioxide causes icy habitats to melt 50-100 years from now, driving polar bears to extinction. However, hundreds of climate scientists emphasize that these models can’t forecast accurately even one year in advance, much less 50. They say there is no evidence that Earth’s moderate warming of the past century will turn into a disaster, or that CO2 is the primary cause of climate change.

Empirical evidence, they argue, demonstrates that climate change is driven primarily by solar energy output, cosmic rays and other natural causes. Indeed, average global temperatures have been stable since 2001, despite steadily rising CO2 levels.

Costly, punitive efforts to cut CO2 will likely have zero to minimal benefits. They would also affect crop and wild plant growth, which improves as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase.

Nevertheless, the same models and alarmist reasoning are being used to promote legislation to slash carbon dioxide emissions and establish complex cap-and-trade systems. Politicians claim the legislation will stabilize a climate that has changed repeatedly over the ages.

Senator Jeff Bingaman’s bill is the least draconian. But the EPA says even it would send gasoline prices up an extra 57 cents a gallon, spark a 20% increase in electricity prices, and cut up to $370 billion from our Gross Domestic Product.

These sacrifices would reduce global CO2 levels in 2050 by 1.5% and average temperature by perhaps 0.05 degrees.

Other bills would be vastly more expensive. Senator Joe Lieberman admits his bill would cost “hundreds of billions” of dollars. Others demand that we eliminate up to 80% of CO2 emissions by 2050.

All would give bureaucrats control over virtually every aspect of our lives. All would make reliable, affordable energy a distant memory – even with an all-out program to build more nuclear power plants, which is anathema to many greens and legislators. All would force industry to spend trillions of dollars to capture, pipeline and store carbon dioxide. Experts say forcing the CO2 into high pressure subterranean storage could trigger small earthquakes, and ruptures could cause gas leaks and mass asphyxiations.

To quell concerns about US jobs and riches heading to China and India, the Administration is prodding them to take “measurable actions” to cut CO2 emissions. But their focus is properly on reducing poverty through economic growth, and cleaning up filthy air and water. Speculative climate catastrophe is a low priority.

Congressional and other “physicians” who are experimenting on our energy, economy and lives need to abide by the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.

Affordable, reliable energy transforms constitutionally protected rights into actual rights and opportunities for better jobs and living standards. Restricting energy supplies rolls back civil rights gains.

CORE is not going to let politicians do that. Neither should you.