Imagine you send your children to a private school, for which you as parents scrimp and save so you can afford to give them as good an education as possible. Dad takes a second job and Mom runs a home business to make it work, because the kids’ test results have been terrific.
But June arrives and the principal mails out a stunning letter to parents: The board of directors say they want higher credentials in their teachers, so they will replace almost all of them in the fall with better qualified ones, who have at least a Master’s degree. The move won’t improve student achievement, but that doesn’t matter – the board has decided. The worst news is the change will cause tuition to double next school year.
Mom calls the principal for an explanation, and the best he can offer is that he’s sorry, but “tuition rates must necessarily skyrocket.”
A similar scenario is unfolding for Americans who struggle every month to pay their power bills. President Obama and Congress are scheming to enact an energy tax, via the so-called “cap-and-trade” legislation now before lawmakers.
Under this proposal, utilities – who will pass the added costs to customers – will pay inflated rates to burn fossil fuels (mostly coal) to generate power. The stated goal is to limit the amount of coal combustion byproduct - the carbon dioxide emissions that are said to spur global warming.
“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system,” then-Democratic presidential candidate Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
The scenario is similar to that of the hypothetical school’s: Elected leaders (influenced by environmental pressure groups) say we must “improve” our sources of generating electric power. The “upgrade” trades coal and oil for wind and solar energy. But there is no change in the delivered product (electricity) or in an averted catastrophe, just like the “new and improved” teachers would not enhance educational results.
This is because global warming is an imaginary crisis. The telltale indicator is that alarmists have changed their lingo from “global warming” to “climate change.” Among the reasons for their vocabulary swap: There has been no net warming since 1997 (despite a continued rise in CO2 emissions); a growing number of qualified scientists have abandoned the panic agenda as they saw computer predictions fail; and new phenomena were observed, like historic cold temperatures and record ice extent in the Antarctic the last two winters. Changing our power resource mix would not affect anything temperature-wise.
But the climate alarmists’ energy policy would inflict harm. The net effect of causing rates to “necessarily skyrocket” on a product that everyone must buy -, usually from state-sanctioned monopolies - is that we must “necessarily” lower our standards of living. In economically distressed areas and in the developing world, this is a death sentence.
These facts don’t deter Obama or congressional leaders like Reps. Henry Waxman, D-CA, and Ed Markey, D-MA, co-sponsors of the House’s primary cap-and-trade tax proposal, as they seek to change the mix of resources that fuel our lives.
Their favored sources of electricity production – wind and solar – demand government subsidies of at least 50 times (per megawatt-hour) the amount coal receives, and that’s just to meet a sliver of the total electricity demand that coal supplies. Imagine what utilities (and their customers) will pay if Obama and company implement their desired mandates for even more alternative, or “green,” energy.
Even “skyrocket” may not be a strong enough word.
Paul Chesser is a special correspondent for the Heartland Institute.