Gas Prices: Gore’s Achilles’ Heel — Lieberman Op-Ed in NY Post

Published in the New York Post

Published in the New York Post

October 3, 2000

Headline: Gas Prices: Gore’s Achilles’ Heel


If George W. Bush wants to score big tonight, he should hit Al Gore hard on energy prices-–specifically, on Gore’s strong support for the international Kyoto Protocol, which the Clinton-Gore Energy Department would drive up gasoline prices by 53 percent, and home-heating costs by 147 percent.


Gore has long backed many policies that drive up energy costs: He has a firm belief they should be higher.  In his book Earth in the Balance, the Vice President makes no bones about his belief that “higher taxes on fossil fuels…is one of the logical first steps in changing our policies in a manner consistent with a more responsible approach to the environment.”  In other words, Gore specifically advocates a policy of raising taxes on fossil fuels to the point where consumers are forced to use less.


And if Gore gets his way and enacts the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to restrict emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming, things will get a whole lot worse.


Of course, as Gore’s abstract longing for expensive energy has given way to the unpopular reality of $1.60-a-gallon gas and sky-high heating oil costs weeks before the election, he now claims to be an advocate for affordable energy.  But he has not budged on his support for the Kyoto Protocol. 


Fortunately for the American people, the Kyoto Protocol has to be ratified by the U.S. Senate before it has the force of law, but a President Gore might well try to push it through. 


The costs would be huge.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that compliance with the drastic emission restrictions in the Kyoto Protocol will cost Americans $64 billion a year.  This includes that 53 percent hike in the price of gasoline.


Others are only slightly less pessimistic.  For example, econometric forecasts from Charles River Associates estimate a 50-cent-per-gallon jump in gas prices.


The future of the Kyoto Protocol will be a major issue for the next administration. Many questions about the environmental seriousness of the global warming threat remain unanswered – though not in Gore’s mind.  But there can be little doubt as to economic seriousness of the Kyoto Protocol itself.  Consumers angry about current fuel prices have a right to know of the worse is yet to come.


Ben Lieberman is a policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.


Copyright © NYP Holdings, Inc.