Feeling the heat on climate change

By Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Would you like to know where to find a succinct statement of liberals’ climate change policy? It is not at the White House website nor the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Instead, it can be found in a memo distributed by Kenneth Berlin of the “Energy & Environment Team.”

It is a fascinating read for those who want an insider’s guide as to what to say and not to say about climate change to support the Administration. It is supported by focus groups and polls. For example, don’t “lead with straight economic arguments.” The literal reader can only assume that the Administration will lead with crooked economic arguments, or more likely, none at all.

In a conversation on Friday, Berlin explained that he distributed the memo written by the Climate Action Campaign. He believes economics is critical, but judged that other aspects of climate change were more important when the president gave his speech on environmental regulations at Georgetown University on June 25.

In the speech, President Obama called for regulatory measures to reduce greenhouse gases. He announced that he will use his executive powers to reduce greenhouse emissions from existing power plants, as well as future plants. He also plans to increase efficiency standards for appliances and authorize the placement of wind farms and solar power plants on federal lands. He asked the Department of Defense to install 3 gigawatts of renewable power on bases. He announced that over the next 7 years, 20 percent of the energy the federal government will consume will come from renewable sources. He mentioned plans for federal tax dollars to fund building infrastructure, such as seawalls for communities.

The memo states that in supporting the president’s climate change agenda, don’t “try to suggest net job increases.” If there is no straight economic argument for climate change, and if there are no net job increases, why should the American public support the Obama’s climate change agenda?

One might have sought an answer to that question Thursday at a hearing at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by California Democrat Barbara Boxer. The hearing, at which the memorandum was discussed, held in the ornate Dirksen Senate Office Building, was entitled “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.” I was one of the witnesses at the hearing.

One could listen to the majority’s witnesses and not hear a whisper about economics or jobs resulting from the president’s climate change policy. Rather than economics or jobs or even hope, the Senate Democrats offer morality and fear. Consider the memo’s “simple 3-part message formulation:”

1. We have a moral obligation to act.

2. Communities all over America are already being harmed.

3. The president’s climate plan is full of common sense solutions including first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

The memo states that Americans are being harmed by extreme weather, drought, flooding, and wildfires. The Senate committee hearing was intended to provide ammunition.

Only one problem: testimony from some of the witnesses shows that climate change is not happening as fast as the Democratic senators would like. Some, such as Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, are trying to prove that climate change is happening so that they can implement a tax on carbon dioxide, enabling them to exert more control over the economy. Whitehouse proposed such a tax on March 22, which failed to pass the Senate by 41 to 58.

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