The upcoming battle in the Senate over cap-and-trade energy legislation is shaping up to be critical for anyone who cares about the economy and the jobs so many Americans are seeking. Senate Republicans have so far placed themselves clearly on the side of economic growth and jobs - except, that is, for South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham.
Through heavy-handed regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other industrial sources, cap-and-trade would kill the coal industry that provides about one half of our nation’s electricity. This would send energy prices skyrocketing which, in turn, would send millions of American jobs overseas, cripple our economy and make us less energy-independent. But that’s not all.
Little discussed is how cap-and-trade is an insidious form of anti-American social engineering. Under the guise of “saving the planet,” cap-and-trade sets up the government to regulate virtually every aspect of our personal lives: where we work, where we live, how many children we have, how much energy and water we use, what kind of food we eat, what kind of cars we drive and much more. All spew carbon in the atmosphere indistinguishable from the stuff that comes out of a coal fired power plant.
Cap-and-trade threatens our military preparedness and our national sovereignty. Remember that President Obama, the Europeans and United Nations kleptocrats are eager to ensnare the United States in an international cap-and-trade treaty that is a major stepping stone to global governance. You don’t have to believe me - that’s from the lips of Al Gore.
So it’s understandable why most Republicans are standing athwart cap-and-trade yelling, “Stop!” Yet Mr. Graham is working with Massachusetts Democrat Sen. John Kerry to pick off enough Senate Republicans to get Democrats the 60 Senate votes they need.
Seemingly oblivious to how cap-and-trade would force European socialism on America, Mr. Graham is trying to lure his fellow Republicans with a cap-and-trade bill that ostensibly would promise increased development of nuclear energy and increased domestic oil and gas drilling. Senate Republicans, however, should be aware of greens bearing gifts.
Lip service by Senate Democrats in favor of expanded nuclear power and domestic drilling aside, Republicans should remember that Mr. Obama, so-called “environmentalists,” and the rest of the American left are all dead set against more nuclear power and domestic drilling. Despite his campaign rhetoric, Mr. Obama has done what he can to curtail both.
In one of his first energy-related moves, Mr. Obama pulled the plug on the Yucca Mountain project to store spent nuclear fuel one mile underground in the middle of nowhere in the Nevada desert - a project that has consumed tens of billions of taxpayer and electricity rate-payer dollars over the last 25 years. Now nuclear power plants have no place to take the spent rods that they now store onsite in near-capacity or already-overflowing conditions.
Since he’s been in charge, Mr. Obama has also dramatically rolled back leases for domestic oil and gas drilling, even canceling leases that the Bush administration had already approved.
Although in early December the Obama administration approved drilling leases for Royal Dutch Shell in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea, anti-drilling green groups have already filed suit in federal court to stop them - and it’s this sort of activity that exposes Mr. Graham’s dangerous naivete on nuclear power and domestic drilling.
The real reason that we haven’t built a nuclear power plant in more than 30 years or managed to expand domestic drilling is because, if the greens don’t have a chokehold on politicians, then they are able to use the regulatory licensing process, lawsuits, adverse publicity and local activism to make domestic energy projects so difficult and uncertain that companies and investors shy away from them. They even attempt to block the solar and wind power plants they supposedly support.
While Kerry-Graham cap-and-trade legislation may promise more nuclear power and domestic drilling, the reality, which Mr. Kerry knows very well but to which Mr. Graham is blind to, is that the greens will have the creativity and resources to ultimately thwart both promises. Carbon caps will happen; more energy will not. It would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to draft legislation that would handcuff the greens and guarantee the timely construction of nuclear power plants and dramatic expansion domestic oil production.
When Neville Chamberlain came back to Britain after negotiating the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler, he announced that he had achieved “peace in our time.” We all know how that turned out. Mr. Graham is now trying a similar dance with the greens, the would-be totalitarians of the 21st century. Let’s hope Senate Republicans have enough Winston Churchills among them to block Mr. Graham’s futile and perilous appeasement.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery 2009).