Graham Duped by Kerry Bait-and-Switch

Although bait-and-switch sales scams are illegal in all 50 states, the U.S. Senate is apparently another matter where Sen. Lindsey Graham has been duped by Sen. John Kerry into supporting economy-killing climate legislation.

Sens. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) released the so-called Kerry-Boxer climate bill (S. 1733) in late-September. Like the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454) that passed the House in June, Kerry-Boxer is a so-called cap-and-trade bill under which Congress would limit manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by issuing a steadily declining number of emissions permits to electric utilities and industrial facilities and then allowing emitters to buy and sell the permits from each other as needed.

Cap-and-trade is a complex scheme that has earned the derisive nickname of cap-and-tax.

The only certain outcome under both bills is that energy would become more expensive. The left-leaning Brookings Institution reported that, under Waxman-Markey, Congress would issue about $9 trillion worth of CO2 emissions permits (also called “allowances”) between 2012 and 2050. Kerry-Boxer involves the same overall emissions cuts as Waxman-Markey, although they are much accelerated.

While simple math shows that cap-and-trade will have no discernible effect on atmospheric levels of CO2, it will dramatically increase the cost of energy (simply put, $9 trillion divided by 300 million people over 38 years works out to about $800 per American per year). And since all goods and services require energy use, all will go up in price.

Not only is cap-and-trade a stealth tax —  for example, the government sells permits to utilities which are then forced to recoup the permits’ costs through higher electricity prices to consumers — it is also a form of inflation, where consumers pay more for all goods and services and get less in return.

Cap-and-tax is a demonstrably bad idea — it was tried and failed in Europe — yet many coal-fired and nuclear power electric utilities have been lured into supporting it through certain provisions in the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer bills. Support from electric utilities — especially through the subsidy-seeking big business-enviro activist lobbying coalition known as the U.S. Climate Action Partnership — has been crucial in advancing advanced cap-and-trade through the House and into the Senate.

For coal-fired utilities, the cap-and-tax bills hold out the possibility of so called carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), where CO2 emissions from coal-fired utilities would be captured and then supposedly permanently stored underground.

Added to the industry supporters is Sen. Graham, who recently joined Sen. Kerry in a New York Times op-ed that announcing his support for moving ahead with the Kerry-Boxer bill provided that the bill promotes CCS and nuclear power, among other things.

While CCS may sound like a good idea — and coal-fired utilities expect to get billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to defray its costs — the reality is that CCS will never happen on significant scale. University of Houston energy expert Michael Economides estimates that CCS, because of the physics of injecting liquid CO2 underground, would require a land area many times the size of the continental U.S. and cost more than $1 trillion per year, not including land acquisition and thousands of miles of pipelines to carry the CO2.

With respect to nuclear power, the cap-and-tax bills hold only vague, if not empty promises of federal loan guarantees for the construction of new plants, and research and development funding for managing spent nuclear fuel.

Even if Congress were to guarantee the hundreds of billions of dollars needed for expanding nuclear power in the U.S., neither cap-and-tax bill is prepared to guarantee that  anti-nuclear power activists will not, through litigation or NIMBY-ism, stop the construction of new plants. Keep in mind that the Obama administration pulled the plug on the Yucca Mountain project for spent fuel storage after 30 years and tens of billions of dollars spent on the project. Liberals are dead-set against nuclear power.

Despite the congressional lip service paid to CCS and nuclear power in the cap-and-tax bills, the reality is that CCS is an economic and physical impossibility, while nuclear power is a political impossibility.

Sens. Kerry and Boxer and Reps. Waxman and Markey know this, and only offer the illusory promises of CCS and nuclear power to keep the cash-strapped utility industry on board the cap-and-tax railroad and to lure political support from the likes of Sen. Graham.

In the retail world, luring a buyer with an attractive offer and substituting a much lesser reality is called bait-and-switch. In Congress, the practice is called cap-and-trade.