Fearing EPA's carbon tax
By Dennis T. Avery
Farmers, along with the rest of us, could get hit with a triple jolt of regulatory shock if the Environment Protection Agency goes forward with its announced controls on carbon emissions. Consumers are already paying heavily for the federal mandate that puts a huge chunk of our corn crop, as ethanol, into our gas tanks instead of into our meat, milk, and eggs. While food costs soar, along with fuel costs, it is a waste of good corn as it contributes almost zero to our energy independence.
Now, the EPA is moving to impose tough limits on carbon emissions from the big power plants across the country—and then plans to screw the new carbon limits down tighter and tighter. Farmers' fuel and electricity costs would go through the roof, along with everybody else's.
The goal, after all, is to make the coal, oil, and natural gas that power most of our power plants too expensive to use. They need to make all our electricity at least slightly more expensive than the ultra-costly solar panels and wind turbines that have failed to produce "Green power" in Europe and, thus far, fail to provide much energy here at home.
After the power plants are stymied, then the farmers will be subject to EPA operating permits for any livestock enterprise emitting more than 100 tons of greenhouse gases per year. Since each cow emits about four tons of methane per annum. 90 percent of the livestock farmers are expected to be over the limit. The EPA estimates the operating permits for livestock farmers would cost the farmers $866 million per year, certainly a low-ball figure. Counting the farmers' paperwork time, this will add more than $1 billion to our annual food costs.
Who will pay the added billion? We will. And, expect by that time to be paying for $8 gasoline and tripled electric bills too. They are paying $3.70 at the pump in California this week.
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill), of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, recently told the Illinois Farm Bureau that the claim the Supreme Court had "required" the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases "is a myth." The Supreme Court actually said EPA should regulate greenhouse gasses "if they could make a determination that the gasses 'significantly endanger human health." Shimkus says the EPA simply repackaged the theoretical risks from the IPPC's computer models, with no other evidence. The EPA is set to act on guesses about the future to regulate our taxes and energy costs in the present.
The little Ice Age ended in 1850, but after 1940, global temperatures trended downward for 35 years—during the first and biggest surge of human-emitted greenhouse gasses that has ever occurred. (We've had a net warming of only 0.2 degrees C since 1940). The IPCC itself says the first greenhouse emissions are theoretically the most powerful—but the post-1940 emissions produced a global cooling! The computers models can't forecast the snowfall over Chicago in 2011, let alone the climate 100 years out. Does the EPA know about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, that shifts our temperatures up and down in 30-year spurts? Or about the 1,500-year climate cycle that has given us more than 500 global warmings in the last million years?
If the cooling trend resumes after the current El Nino/La Nina interruptions, we can expect the planet to cool until 2037. By that time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may have picked up their billions of pre-printed energy-rationing coupons and gone elsewhere.
Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org