The Senate plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming would increase energy costs by about $100 annually (actually $80-$111) for a typical U.S. household, according to an analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency.
That's roughly the same figure the EPA calculated for similar legislation that the U.S. House of Representatives passed in June, although the Congressional Budget Office estimates the annual household cost of the House bill at approximately $175 in 2020.
No matter which estimate you use, it works out to somewhere between 20 cents and 50 cents per day for a typical U.S. household, and proponents of the measures argue that's a small price to pay reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut air pollution, create millions of new jobs, and put America on the path to a sustainable, clean-energy economy.
Critics of the Senate bill and the cap-and-trade system it would create call it a massive new energy tax, and some industry studies claim the measure could cost consumers as much as an extra $3,000 every year. (That kind of wild hyperbole doesn't do much to further the debate.)
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has scheduled hearings on the Senate bill next week and the White House is urging Congress to pass it. In a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday [Oct. 23, 2009], President Barack Obama said he believes "a consensus is growing" in Congress on the issue of climate change.
"But I think it's important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we'll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we're engaged in," Obama said. "There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy -- when it's the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who . . . make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.
"So we're going to have to work on those folks," he said. "But understand there's also another myth that we have to dispel, and this one is far more dangerous because we're all somewhat complicit in it. It's far more dangerous than any attack made by those who wish to stand in the way progress -- and that's the idea that there is nothing or little that we can do. It's pessimism. It's the pessimistic notion that our politics are too broken and our people too unwilling to make hard choices for us to actually deal with this energy issue that we're facing. . . . I reject that argument."
Finding a way to counter that pessimism about the big problems we need to solve--from global warming to health care reform--may well be the toughest challenge currently facing America's leaders.Also Read: