Chambering a round against future commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues its deceptive campaign tour to fight any meaningful efforts to deal with Global Warming.

Last week, the USCOC joined up with Senator George Voinovich in Columbus, Ohio, for the session deceptively entitled “Comprehensive Approach to Energy and Climate Change“. From the speech by USCOC President Thomas J. Donohue, he described the USCOC opposition to the Lieberman-Warner Coal-Subsidy Act because:

“its targets and mandates are simply not realistic or achievable.”

I might agree that they are not realistic. Lieberman-Warner’s targets are not realistic because they do not do what is required to give a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

“Not … achievable.” That claim is beyond ridicule and disgust. It is willful deceit. Achieving much stronger reductions that outlined in the CISA is achievable, it simply requires the will (political) to set serious targets and work toward them.

Donohue’s speech is filled with misleading truthiness. For example,

On the energy front, just when we think prices can’t go any higher, they do. In recent days, we have had some analysts talking about $200 oil and $10 gas. Prices for natural gas and coal are soaring as well.

At the same time, demand is growing rapidly. Most experts agree that global energy consumption will increase 50% by 2030. In the United States, it will rise by a third.

Imagine what this demand could do to prices if we don’t also increase supply.

Energy use growth is stated as a given. Hmmm … Perhaps serious investment in energy efficiency?

Perhaps people will start to change their behavior as they begin to understand that fossil fuel energy prices will be higher tomorrow than today, and higher than that the day after tomorrow.

No, in a speech about energy and Climate Change, the words “energy efficiency” don’t matter enough to make it into the conversation.

Now, you might think that what is going on in the energy markets today would constitute a wake-up call to end all wake-up calls.

Think again. When it comes to energy production, our nation is still asleep.

We have vast amounts of coal, oil, and gas on our lands and off our shores.

Yet much of these resources have been locked away by lawmakers and regulators.

Oh no, the real problem is clearly the need for more energy production. Never mind that the cheapest source of new power is negawatts (the power that won’t be required), what we must do according to Donahue is DRILL, DRILL, DRILL!!!!

And, again, this was a session about Climate Change. Want to talk about the Climate Change implications of using even more of those caol resources?

Where We Stand Today – Climate Change

And how about the current state of play on climate change?

Most Americans accept the idea that the earth is getting warmer. Much of the current science tells us this.

Wow. So generous (and disingenous), “much of the current science tells us.” Doesn’t that suggest that there are serious scientists that would disagree. Unless you’re looking in James Inhofe’s files, you will have to look long and hard to find serious scientists who would question whether “the earth is getting warmer”.

That “most Americans accept the idea that the earth is getting warmer” is certainly not due to the efforts of USCOC to confuse them. And, sadly, the understanding of Global Warming might be falling (not strengthening) in the American public.

Just as with the “drill, drill, drill the hole deeper” approach to Energy Policy, Donohue is adopting the classic delayers technique: can’t do anything without new technology.

In fact, the only way to get there – without shutting down economic activity – would be use to technologies that don’t yet exist.

This is bald-faced misdirection and deception. There are, existing, technologies and techniques to achieve huge efficiencies in the US use of energy from better insulation in buildings, white roofing, better lights, better management of traffic lights, hybrid vehicles, etc … The list is, almost literally, endless. The Lieberman-Warner 2020 goal of 20 percent below today’s levels could be easily achieved without a single new invention. In fact, the needed reductions (twice what Lieberman-Warner sets for 2020, 25 percent below 1990 levels) could be achieved with a single new invention. Should we be investing in the development of new technology? Absolutely. But that investment should not preclude broadly and rapidly deploying already developed (and, in many cases, deployed) technologies and approaches for radically improving Americans’ efficiency of energy use.

Now, where is Donahue re Climate Change? Embracing paths that would doom us to disaster.

President Bush has also weighed in with a more realistic goal to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Yes, George the W’s wondrous call for halting emissions growth by 2025 which would guarantee catastrophic climate change.

Yet two of the three individuals who hope to replace him in the White House have called for mandatory CO2 reductions of 80% by 2050.

Yes, at least two candidates have energy and global warming policies that made a modicum of effort for dealing with the challenges we face.

Experts a lot smarter than me have run the numbers. There is no way this can be done without fundamentally changing the American way of life, choking off economic development, and putting large segments of our economy out of business.

Could we be snide and focus on “a lot smarter than” Donahue? Let us point out, to start with, that Donahue is referring to deceptive works that even the “independent” organization that did the work disowned in footnotes they inserted into the work.

More importantly, Donahue’s assertions are simply not true. And, more importantly, Donahue is only talking solely about cost (and distorted versions of cost) and not about benefit.

Think of his words in light of the transition from lighting our evenings with candles to lighting our homes with electricity. Did that occur without “fundamentally changing the American way of life”? Did that occur without “putting large segments of our economy out of business”? (What happened to candle makers?) What about transitioning from the horse and buggy to the train and automobile? Transitions to more modern economies create disruption.

And, of course, Donahue is willfully ignoring the costs of non-action, of what it will mean to have sea-level rise, disrupted weather patterns, climate refugees, mass extinctions. No, the benefits of those avoided costs are illegitimate to add into the balance sheet for Donahue and his ilk.

Well, every single line of this speech could be disconstructed, with truthiness to highlight and false assertions to challenge and refute. Sad that this needs to occur when our minds, our energy should be turned to solving the problems.

Reckless Endangerment … and losing opportunity

At the end of the day, there are multiple levels and reasons to be disgusted by the USCOC’s campaign against meaningful action on Global Warming.

  • Donohue is engaged in reckless endangerment for the future prospects of America, Americans, and the rest of humanity. He is balancing this against perceived interests of major membership in the coming quarter, in the coming few years.
  • The USCOC is ignoring the huge economic opportunities that serious action on Global Warming will create. Rebuilding America’s building and other infrastructure to energy efficiency. Constructing renewable energy systems. Rewiring America’s electrical grid and developing / deploying a SmartGrid. These are huge business arenas and the greening of America could mean making some serious green for major US corporations.
  • No, that vision of a stronger economic future that is also a more sustainable one is evidently beyond USCOC’s comprehension.

    3 responses to “Chambering a round against future commerce

    1. Pingback: Wonk Room » McCain Wants It Both Ways On Global Warming, Ends Up Attacking His Own Plan

    2. Pingback: BLW: Disastrous Legislation or simply Disastrous Politics? « Energy Smart

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