Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says President Obama's proposed carbon emissions cap and trade program is an 'energy tax'. Bachmann hosted two global climate change forums on Wednesday.
Bachmann, whose district stretches from St. Cloud to the eastern metro suburbs, said she hosted the two meetings to educate the public about President Obama's proposed cap-and-trade program. Bachmann said her research shows the system could potentially cripple the economy, including small businesses and families.
"This energy tax, I'm very concerned, will hike up the cost not only of our respective energy bills by an average of more than $2,500 for the typical family of four in Minnesota, according to one study, but of everything that we buy," Bachmann said. "There isn't anything produced that energy doesn't in some way impact."
Bachmann has cited research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, that the average American household could expect its yearly energy bill to increase more than $3,000 per year. But an MIT professor who worked on that research wrote a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, saying that the National Republican Congressional Committee misrepresented his analysis. The MIT professor said, in fact, the correct estimate is one-tenth of the figure Bachmann cites, or $340 per household.
President Obama's proposal is designed to generate revenue that would offset that costs of electricity increases. It would also limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by polluters. Those polluters must either reduce emissions on their own, or buy credits from lower-emitters. Industries would be allowed to buy and sell the emission allowances in an open market, and Bachmann fears that will be drive up energy costs.
Bachmann said Minnesotans will fare worse than people in other parts of the country.
"It is because the Midwest gets more power from coal-fired utilities than either the northeast or the pacific northwest," Bachmann said. "So we will be paying for energy that will be consumed out in the coast."
To make her case, Bachmann invited Chris Horner, a senior fellow at Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Horner, author of two books that question global warming, "Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed" and "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism."
Horner said Obama knows that his proposal is an energy tax. He said the president has been quoted saying that if someone wanted to build a coal power plant, he can, but he will go bankrupt, and under his proposed plan, electricity rates would necessarily sky rocket.
Obama followed the bankruptcy statement by saying his the cap-and-trade system would generate billions of dollars to invest in solar, wind, and biodiesel, and other alternative energy approaches.
"For cap and trade to work, it must hurt. if it does not hurt, it will not work," Horner said. "And sadly, we see more and more members in D.C. rushing forward to say well, I've got this or that amendment to make sure it doesn't really cost anything. Then you're making sure it's even more of a gesture and less of anything designed to actually reduce emissions, for example: offset schemes. You're just guaranteeing no emission reductions will occur."
Horner said the cap-and-trade system in Europe has failed and a cap-and-trade system in the U.S. would not reduce greenhouse emissions. He too said utility bills could go up several thousand dollars a year, prompting several audience members to shout that he was lying.
While most of the several hundred audience members applauded Horner's and Bachmann's comments, several dozen college students came to the event to protest. Jared Smith, a student at St. John's University, said he was disappointed that only one side of the issue was presented. Smith said much of the information Horner presented was inaccurate.
"They pull out little snippets of time and when you're looking at geological times, you need to look at thousands, even millions, of years to show trends," Smith said. "He would look at 100 years and show 'This trend doesn't exist,' well you need to zoom out a little bit and look at things bigger."
Smith was also disappointed that Horner questioned the credibility of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which is considered the world's leading authority on climate change. The IPCC says there is overwhelming evidence that the Earth is warming due to human activity.