Rep. Rothfus: Don’t Destroy Economy for Climate Deal

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Access to coal, natural gas, and oil and to reliable, plentiful, and affordable energy has powered an unprecedented revolution in the way Americans and people around the world live.

Our homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and public buildings all rely on dependable and cost-effective energy – and lots of it. Fossil fuels are central to our energy mix, and without them our standard of living would be greatly diminished. In poorer regions of the world, access to fossil fuels could be a matter of life and death. It would seem that most reasonable people would be cognizant of this reality, but some in Washington appear to be unable to see the bigger picture.

This weekend, President Obama officially endorsed the United Nations global accord on climate change, an agreement he and other world leaders championed in Paris last month at the United Nations climate summit. The environmental commitments he has agreed the United States will make would have wide-ranging impacts on the American people, without our input or consent.

The President’s support of this climate deal signals a continuation of his legacy of centralized control from the White House. In fact, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently asserted that the Obama Administration is “not going to rely on Congress to make these things happen,” referring to the implementation of the multi-billion dollar climate change regulations comprising the Administration’s Clean Power Plan.

The Administration’s ivory tower theorists are in a state of denial with respect to the consequences this regulatory onslaught has imposed – and will continue to impose – on the American people; or perhaps they consider the sacrifices these regulations would impose on citizens, especially the poorest among us, to be worth the negligible benefits.

Consider the tradeoffs.

The Clean Power Plan alone is estimated to cost American taxpayers $289 billion through 2030 and result in 224,000 fewer American jobs being created each year. Enacting the plan, however, will avert a mere 0.018 degrees Celsius of warming over the next 85 years according to the EPA’s own models. That’s less than two one-hundredths of one degree Celsius.

While many on the left view America’s energy consumption as harmful, our energy consumption comes with indescribable benefits for our daily lives. The left’s vision for climate control – which in large part is significantly ratcheting back our use of fossil fuels through regulation – would without a doubt disproportionately harm our nation’s poor, who use the largest percentage of their income for their energy needs.

In addition to the costs of the President’s plan outweighing the benefits, the President’s proposal presents an issue of fundamental fairness for America’s workers.

In order to level the playing field for American workers, I introduced the FAIR Burdens Act, which ensures that regulations to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from power plants cannot be imposed in the United States unless countries accounting for at least 80 percent of global non-U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have instituted similarly stringent policies.

The U.S. is responsible for 16 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. China, the world’s largest emitter, is responsible for 28 percent of global emissions (33 percent of non-U.S. emissions), followed by the European Union, India, Russia, and Japan. Imposing heavier burdens on the U.S. without requiring comparable regulatory burdens on these other nations would not only be unfair, but also largely ineffective.

The Obama Administration has been tragically inadequate at cost/benefit analyses, as we saw with the President’s health care law. I will not stand by as this Administration repeats this cycle with America’s necessary and reliable energy sources, which are so integral to the lives and livelihoods of hard-working Americans and the poorest among us.

President Obama may believe that less than two one-hundredths of one degree Celsius is fair tradeoff for slashing jobs, destroying the economy, lowering living standards, and making it more difficult for everyday Americans to pay their energy bills. Many Americans and their elected representatives disagree. I certainly do, and I am doing everything I can to stop his seriously misguided regulatory onslaught. The FAIR Burdens Act is a necessary step in these efforts.