Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) published a curious op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times titled, “Yes We Can (Pass Climate Legislation).” The bill that they claim to support and that can pass the Senate is not the 821-page draft bill that Senators Kerry and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) released two weeks ago. It is a fantasy designed to get the support of Senator Graham and other fuzzy-minded Senators with visions of lots of new nuclear plants, billions for technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, less dependence on imported oil, and tariffs to protect American manufacturing jobs in energy-intensive industries. We can have it all with a few waves of the federal government’s magic wand.
But even a glance at their article shows how little substance there is to any of these promises. No new nuclear power plants will be built unless there is somewhere to store the waste. Here’s what Kerry and Graham say about that: “We must also do more to encourage serious investment in research and development to find solutions to our nuclear waste problem.” In other words, not finish the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada that the federal government has already spent billions on, but which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Obama oppose. Carbon capture and storage technology is more than a decade away from being commercially available. Even if it works and is affordable, environmental pressure groups will sue to block permits for the pipelines and underground storage sites necessary to transport and store the pressurized carbon dioxide. Here’s what Kerry and Graham say: “…we need to provide new financial incentives for companies to develop carbon capture and sequestration technology. ” Not a word about limiting lawsuits that would block projects.
Kerry and Graham support a border tax to protect American jobs from products produced in countries that don’t commit to reducing their emissions. That is an admission that energy prices are going to go up and so are the prices of goods and services that are produced with or use energy. Consumers will be poorer as a result and hence will be able to afford fewer goods and services. Bye-bye manufacturing jobs. They also claim that their as-yet-to-be-written bill will reduce our imports of foreign oil. That’s plausible, but not exactly correct. As our economy declines, we will need less oil. But it will reduce U. S. and Canadian production first because the production costs are much higher here than in Saudi Arabia.