Night Before Key Vote, Networks Remain Silent on Cap-and-Trade

A House vote on Waxman-Markey’s American Clean Energy & Security Act to cap-and-trade emissions was imminent June 26. Some Republicans have called the bill “the largest tax increase in American history,” but despite the enormous burden to taxpayers the three major networks failed to cover the bill the night before.

ABC, NBC, and CBS instead devoted June 25 evening news programming to recently deceased celebrities, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. While the deaths of such iconic figures was certainly newsworthy, failing to provide coverage over legislation that would cost every American family $1,241 a year in higher energy bills was irresponsible. 

The lack of network coverage on the cap-and-trade issue isn’t new (only 13 stories between Jan. 20 and May 25) and has contributed to ignorance and confusion about the issue.

On the June 25 edition of “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” Karen Harbert, of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that only 25 percent of Americans even understand what cap-and-trade is. It’s short hand for a policy that would try to forcibly lower U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Although proponents claim it is a solution to global warming, critics warn it will barely alter temperatures (a similar plan would have resulted in 0.013 degrees of ‘prevented’ warming) and a cap-and-trade schemes have failed to stop emissions from rising in Europe.

According to the June 26 Wall Street Journal cap-and-trade, if passed, would: “require the country to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020 and about 80% by the next century.”

The Heritage Foundation analyzed a draft version of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill and estimated real GDP losses of $9.6 trillion as well as 1.1 million in job losses.

On his program June 25, Glenn Beck cited Heritage estimates for the cost to Americans would be faced if the bill passes. Beck said cap-and-trade would cost the average American family an additional $1,241 a year on their energy bill by 2035 after adjusting for inflation, electricity rates would rise 90 percent, natural gas prices by 55 percent, and gasoline prices by 58 percent.

An June 26 op-ed in the Journal said, “Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history.”

On June 2, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., gave his opinion of what would happen with the Waxman-Markey bill. At Heartland Institute Third International Conference on Climate Change Inhofe said, "First of all, the House will pass anything. Nancy Pelosi has the votes to pass anything. Don’t be distressed when you see the House passes some kind of cap-and-trade bill. And you know it could be worse [than the proposed bill] and she could still pass it, so it’ll pass there.” But ultimately, according to Inhofe, the Senate won't be able to pass the bill.