Fighting extreme climate policies must happen now

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There’s no need to make slippery slope arguments when it comes to analyzing the policies pushed by climate alarmists. 

There’s a simple reason why: We are so far down the slope that past fears of the extremism to come are now the real extremism of today, from limiting what cars people can drive to restricting the use of natural gas stoves.

There’s a small window of opportunity to fight these policies before they become entrenched.  This is especially true as legislators hand out massive subsidies to gain the support of special interests, and regulated entities make changes to comply with new overreaching regulations (even if those regulations are later struck down by the courts).

Before highlighting some of the extremism, let’s start with one critical distinction: climate policy isn’t the same thing as climate science. This is a distinction that climate alarmists try to muddle to give the impression that their subjective policy preferences are in fact objective scientific conclusions.

Pushing policies that restrict freedom, reduce economic growth, and drive-up prices for Americans isn’t a law of science required to address rising global temperatures. Instead, they are efforts to use the force of government to impose personal preferences and ideological objectives without regard for tradeoffs or costs. Even worse, these policies would have little to no impact on global temperatures.

The Heritage Foundation, using a clone of the U.S. Energy Information Administration model, found, “Even assuming that the Earth’s temperatures are highly sensitive to GHG emissions, eliminating all U.S. emissions would mitigate global temperatures by less than 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.”

If eliminating all emissions would have a miniscule effect, then the proposed policies’ impact on global temperatures would be so small that it likely wouldn’t be measurable.

So, to achieve nothing, the alarmists are pushing all kinds of extremism.  Here are two prime examples:

1) Getting rid of gas-powered cars. Not long ago, people would have been labeled as fearmongers for claiming that climate alarmists wanted to ban gas-powered cars. Fast forward to today. California has banned the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. 

The Biden administration is trying to follow in California’s footsteps, with the Environmental Protection Agency proposing a tailpipe emission rule that the agency itself admits could help lead to as much as 67 percent of all new cars sold in the United States being electric vehicles (EVs) by 2032.

It doesn’t matter that Americans don’t want to buy EVs or that EVs have numerous problems (e.g. high prices, long charging times, limited range, environmental harm, national security concerns). It also doesn’t matter that forcing such a change may not even reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to the high emissions from producing an EV and the distinct possibility of having to replace batteries.

2) Restricting the use of natural gas appliances. In May, New York became the first state to pass legislation to ban natural gas hook-ups for a wide range of new construction, prohibiting the use of natural gas stoves and other appliances in these buildings. The state of Washington was all set to use its building code to restrict natural gas in new construction. Fortunately, due to a recent case striking down a Berkeley local ordinance to restrict natural gas, Washington has delayed these restrictions.

On the federal level, the Department of Energy has proposed a rule that will disfavor natural gas stoves over electric stoves. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is conducting an investigation into gas stoves and a CPSC commissioner explained that a ban was a real possibility. These federal actions are occurring despite the fact that, as my colleague Ben Lieberman explains, “The Biden administration itself has admitted that natural gas is over three times cheaper than electricity on a per unit energy basis.”

In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which didn’t garner a single Republican vote, provides major subsidies to discourage the use of natural gas in buildings, and to incentivize consumers to buy electric stoves. Lieberman points out, “One wonders how long manufacturers, many of whom make both gas and electric stoves, will continue [to] offer gas models when they are at such a disadvantage.”

Fighting back. Legislators need to go after the IRA because it is filled with subsidies (potentially costing over a trillion dollars) to advance the radical green agenda. Many subsidy recipients, who otherwise would have been opponents of this government meddling, may not be allies in the fight because they would want their handouts.

But legislators need to remember they serve the American people who will get hurt through this centrally-planned effort to change how we produce and use energy. They should make it perfectly clear that subsidy recipients will be relying on the subsidies at their own peril because the IRA subsidies will be eliminated. There will be no bailouts for businesses, such as car manufacturers, who change their business models because of the handouts.

Legislators also need to pass legislation going after the Biden administration regulatory overreach. For example, the U.S. House of Representatives prohibited restrictions on gas stoves (CPSC bill, DOE bill). Plus, legislators need to continue using policy riders in the appropriations process to withhold funding for rules and passing Congressional Review Act resolutions that disapprove of rules.

Ultimately though, there needs to be more sweeping legislation so that this fight doesn’t continue to be a whack-a-mole exercise.

Climate alarmists struggle to defend their extremist policies when presented with the non-existent impact such policies will have on global temperatures. Their common refrain is usually to assert that the United States needs to be a climate leader.

Trampling on freedom and hurting the quality of life for Americans, especially the poor, isn’t showing leadership. Instead, it is showing a complete disregard for the costs of their harmful agenda.

Policymakers should ask a simple question: If there is a genuine climate problem, what type of country would be best suited to address it? A United States with less wealth, innovation, and reliable energy, or a flourishing United States with rising innovation and abundant energy to improve the lives of Americans?

The answer is simple.