Where’s our refund for climate change costs?

A new report released by the White House shows Americans are overpaying for climate change reduction efforts, and considering scientific research shows average global temperatures have not risen significantly since 1998, maybe we should all get a refund.

A recent survey conducted by a Harvard political scientist found U.S. households are willing to pay approximately an extra 5 percent, or about five dollars, more on their electricity bill each month to combat climate change.

The U.S. government, however, spent $21 billion on climate change reduction in 2014. There are approximately 117 million households in the United States, which means every time the federal government spends $1 billion, it is effectively spending $8.55 of your money. At $21 billion in climate change spending, the average American household paid $179.55 dollars to fight climate change last year, significantly more than consumers want to pay.

Unfortunately, $180 per year is just the tip of the iceberg. The actual price we are forced to pay to fight climate change is much higher because of the hidden costs of rules and regulations that make our electricity more expensive but are not included in the White House numbers.

President Barack Obama seems determined to make the war on climate change a big part of his legacy, on the taxpayers’ dime, of course, and as a result his administration has offered a series of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and regulations that will ensure you pay even more to “fight climate change,” even though EPA admits these rules will have a negligible impact on global temperatures.

One of these new regulations will force us to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030. This is estimated to cost consumers and business more than $41 billion per year and would result in raising electricity prices between 12 percent and 17 percent—more than two to three times what consumers have said they would be willing to pay.

These new EPA power plant regulations would cost the average household an additional $350 dollars per year, bringing your yearly climate contribution up to roughly $530. Adding insult to Uncle Sam’s climate price-gouging injury, EPA’s own predictions show these costly regulations will limit global warming by a pathetic .02 degrees C, which is below the historic margin of error.

Obama bases these expensive regulations on increasingly misleading claims that say climate change is worse than ever before, as when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced 2014 was the warmest year on record. Further investigation showed not that 2014 was the warmest year on record (which dates back only to 1880, hardly qualifying for the word “ever”) but that there was a 38 percent chance 2014 was the warmest year on record.

In fact, as reported by Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe, Berkeley Earth summarized its 2014 calculations by showing the temperatures in 2014 were statistically identical to other recent years. “Therefore, it is impossible to conclude from our analysis which of 2014, 2010, or 2005 was actually the warmest year,” the summary warned.

Although ultra-wealthy environmentalists like Al Gore and Tom Steyer applaud expensive regulations based on flimsy science or argue a yearly per-household installment of $530 is a small price to fight climate change (even though the scientific evidence shows global temperatures have been flat), normal people are not willing to pay that much for unmeasurable reductions in warming.

In fact, most Americans would probably like their money back.

Isaac Orr (iorr@heartland.orgis a research fellow for energy and environmental policy at The Heartland Institute.