CBS Frets Energy Cost, Skips Impact of Bill to 'Fight Global Warming'

After leading Friday's CBS Evening News with Morgan Stanley's prediction of $150 barrel of oil by the 4th of July and reporter Anthony Mason citing the “runaway price of energy,” anchor Katie Couric delivered a short item on how “today the Senate gave up on legislation to fight global warming.” Couric explained that “faced with a Republican-led filibuster, Democrats withdrew their proposal to cap carbon emissions from power plants and factories,” but she failed to make the connection to how the “cap and trade” bill would raise the price gas and other energy.

In a Monday column, Robert Samuelson, who dubbed the bill “cap and tax,” reported: “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a 15 percent cut of emissions would raise average household energy costs by almost $1,300 a year.”

With “Climate Change Bill” on screen, Couric read this 30-second update:
Senators McCain and Obama both said they supported the bill, but today the Senate gave up on legislation to fight global warming. Faced with a Republican-led filibuster, Democrats withdrew their proposal to cap carbon emissions from power plants and factories. That leaves the issue to the next Congress and the next President.
Neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned the bill.

Meanwhile, on Friday's NBC Nightly News, after CNBC shouter Jim Cramer asserted that $150 barrel of oil will translate into $5.50 for a gallon of gas, anchor Brian Williams ended the q and a by lamenting: “And sooner or later maybe an energy policy will come forward.” Cramer called that “a real leap of faith.” Williams regretted: “Yeah, that's true.”

An excerpt from Samuelson's June 2 column, “Just Call It 'Cap-and-Tax,'” in the Washington Post:
....Carbon-based fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) provide about 85 percent of U.S. energy and generate most greenhouse gases. So, the simplest way to stop these emissions is to regulate them out of existence. Naturally, that's what cap-and-trade does. Companies could emit greenhouse gases only if they had annual "allowances" -- quotas -- issued by the government. The allowances would gradually decline. That's the "cap." Companies (utilities, oil refineries) that needed extra allowances could buy them from companies willing to sell. That's the "trade."

In one bill, the 2030 cap on greenhouse gases would be 35 percent below the 2005 level and 44 percent below the level projected without any restrictions. By 2050, U.S. greenhouse gases would be rapidly vanishing. Even better, their disappearance would allegedly be painless. Reviewing five economic models, the Environmental Defense Fund asserts that the cuts can be achieved "without significant adverse consequences to the economy." Fuel prices would rise, but because people would use less energy, the impact on household budgets would be modest.

This is mostly make-believe. If we suppress emissions, we also suppress today's energy sources, and because the economy needs energy, we suppress the economy....

As emission cuts deepened, the danger of disruptions would mount. Population increases alone raise energy demand. From 2006 to 2030, the U.S. population will grow 22 percent (to 366 million) and the number of housing units 25 percent (to 141 million), the Energy Information Administration projects. The idea that higher fuel prices will be offset mostly by lower consumption is, at best, optimistic. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a 15 percent cut of emissions would raise average household energy costs by almost $1,300 a year.

That's how cap-and-trade would tax most Americans. As "allowances" became scarcer, their price would rise, and the extra cost would be passed along to customers. Meanwhile, government would expand enormously. It could sell the allowances and spend the proceeds; or it could give them away, providing a windfall to recipients. The Senate proposal does both to the tune of about $1 trillion from 2012 to 2018. Beneficiaries would include farmers, Indian tribes, new technology companies, utilities and states. Call this "environmental pork,"...

A tax is more visible and understandable. If environmentalists still prefer an allowance system, let's call it by its proper name: cap-and-tax.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center