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July 9th, 2009

Climate Control Bill — What’s More Important to You?



Not matter the decisions you’re making, you have to weigh the costs. You have to do your best to determine the foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences of your actions. The consequences pervading the minds of lawmakers as they decide whether or not to vote for President Obama’s climate-control bill, otherwise known as the “cap-and-trade bill,” are harmful climate change or rising costs.

The bill is designed to slow negative climate change, specifically limiting the emission of harmful greenhouse gases:

A bill aiming to slash greenhouse-gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 cleared [the House] by a vote of 219-212 last month. By the middle of the century, it would cut emissions to 80% below 2005 levels.

While the narrow vote in the House suggests that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are skeptical about the good that will come from this bill, a stark divide remains between the two political parties regarding how much this plan will cost taxpayers (emphasis added):

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the panel’s top Republican, said the cap-and-trade system would amount to the largest tax increase in American history, a statement echoed by many Republicans but shot down by Democrats including Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, who chairs the committee.

“There are no new taxes,” [Sen. Barbara Boxer of California] said Tuesday morning.

Forgetting about the opinions of lawmakers for a second, FoxNews.com reports that small businesses owners are irate over the bill. David McArthur, Vice President of his family’s 52-year-old bakery, says his congressman was supporting “a direct tax increase on small business” by voting for the bill. McArthur claims that since every aspect of his business will be impacted by the bill, “high prices could cost his company up to $15,000 a year in an industry with a very tight margin for profit.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that in the first few years the bill would only have a minimal effect on most taxpayers, costing an average family about 25 cents a day.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu feels that the only way to fix negative climate change is through such a bill:

“Denial of the climate-change problem will not change our destiny; a comprehensive energy and climate bill that caps and then reduces carbon emissions will,” [he] said.

How Do You Feel About the "Cap-and-Trade" Bill?

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10 Responses to “Climate Control Bill — What’s More Important to You?”

  1. Pauk Says: July 10th, 2009 at 9:47 am

    More expenses that will get passed on to the consumer.

    Some smaller businesses will falter as they will not be able to sustain the hit to their bottom line for long.

    We put a man on the moon in under 10 years, but we’ve spent the last 30 unable or unwilling to generate affordable energy — guess there’s too much money in it.

    We should solve that problem first, then worry about the emissions that the solution might generate. We’re over taxing ourselves in that department for minimal effect anyway because not enough other countries are doing the same.

    Housing and Gas caused an extreme ripple effect to the economy — wait until we add energy into the mix. Many seniors and other families are already cash strapped as it is, wait until energy increases 30% next year or two.

    “There are no great minds in government. If there were, business would hire them away.”

  2. Tim Manni Says: July 10th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Hey Pauk,

    The Congressional Budget Office estimated it would increase energy bills by $0.25 a day for the first couple years — that’s $91.25 a year. Are Americans unwilling to pay that amount to help improve our environment? I’m not an energy expert, I don’t know if the plan will even succeed, but I’m curious overall how willing people are to except the added cost to help the planet. It seems that Americans are either “green” fanatics or they don’t care — are there individuals in the middle?

    Now I can understand the baker’s frustration, he predicts his costs will rise $15,000 annually, I’d be pretty upset to.

    So you would rather have the govt. focus on affordable rather than renewable energy for the time being? It seems that added costs are coming at the worst time (did you read our article on minimum wage increases?). These legislations are important, I just think it’s a really hard time to get consumers on board, especially when they impact their pockets the most.

    Thanks Pauk, I’ll talk to you soon,

  3. Lucia Says: July 10th, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Cap and Trade is more pervasive than just driving hybrid cars or using ethanol. Utility bills will rise by 90% since alternative energy is more expensive, cost to retrofit buildings and homes to be energy efficient and eco-friendly will burden low income owners, and then there’s Big Brother monitoring citizens for compliance. Counties and states also wonder if they invest in alternative energy whether or not they will get a return for the taxpayers money.

    President Carter spent millions of taxpayer money on alternative energy projects that failed because the country was in the middle of a recession and couldn’t afford the luxury of green energy like solar panels, wind power, etc.

    I think the bill demands closer scrutiny but it’s so large and complicated nobody but aides have read it. Besides, it’s not done being written and keeps changing. The science is debateable and even the EPA complained their study that concluded global warming was reversing was ignored. Sun spot activity made the ice caps on Mars melt, for heavens sake, and now the sun spots have stopped which has caused wind velocity to slow as reported by wind farms south of Nebraska. Many climatologists are predicting a 25 year span of 1970s weather complete with cooler summers and iced over harbors in the winter.

    I think that Americans are being stampeded into accepting expanded regulation and burdensome costs for an issue based solely on conjecture and during a time when our economy is struggling to regain its footing.

  4. Tim Manni Says: July 10th, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Hey Lucia,

    Great comment. You and other readers are really touching on an important theme: whether you agree with the bill or not, implementing sweeping change which can adversely affect costs at a time like this may be futile — your last paragraph sums it up nicely.

    I do agree: “I think the bill demands closer scrutiny but it’s so large and complicated nobody but aides have read it. Besides, it’s not done being written and keeps changing.”

    If the glaciers and the ice caps stop melting, as “Many climatologists are predicting,” it may quell this entire argument. I think that melting has a lot of people worried.

    Great comment as always, thanks,

  5. Pauk Says: July 10th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Many americans, especially now, do not have the ability to absorb more expenses.

    Of course we can’t decimate the environment, but I don’t buy into what Gore is selling. We need to find an affordable solution. In devising that solution, we undoubtedly should consider long term impact. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing solution.

  6. Tim Manni Says: July 10th, 2009 at 12:52 pm


    Great comment, very well put.

    “It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing solution.” — Why haven’t we found a solution that’s affordable and renewable?

  7. Lucia Says: July 10th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement, Tim. BTW, I’m an old time “Greenie” and have been using a solar garment dehydrator for years.

  8. Tim Manni Says: July 10th, 2009 at 1:41 pm


    Ok, so even as an “old time ‘Greenie’,” you see cap and trade as going a little too far?


  9. Lucia Says: July 11th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Cap and Trade is a trojan horse, a ruse for over regulation of business and private property. Consider the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program. Homeowners would be required to retrofit their home to meet federal guidelines in order to sell their homes. All buildings would have to retrofitted to be more energy efficient and “enviromentally friendly”.

    What exactly does that mean? So far, the EPA has yet to tell us, and the Department of Energy has yet to write the rules. The program requires federally certified auditors, inspectors, and raters to inspect homes and businesses using infared cameras to measure BTUs and energy leaks. They also measure water usage, and pressurized testing for doors and window seals, and test indoor air quality.

    Then the homeowner/business building owner would be required to pay for the retrofitting before they could put it on the market. Federal inspectors would monitor the retrofitting to make sure compliance has been met. States, counties or cities would be allowed to “provide loans, utility rate rebates, tax rebates, or implement a retrofit program on their own,” but only up to 50% of the cost.

    I think this is burdensome to anyone who lives in anything other than new housing, low and middle income home owners who may be already underwater with their mortgages or struggling financially, and many rural property owners who burn wood for heat because of high electricty costs.

    But just for arguments sake, say that a homeowner could afford to pay half for retrofitting their home (which could add up to a years income or more) and then borrow the other half from the state or county. Any loan for retrofitting would be a lien on the property that must be cleared before putting transferring title in a purchase agreement. This would make selling their home even more difficult.

    Then there’s the concept of Big Brother, how that would open the door to energy consumption monitoring, etc. Don’t get me started on that subject, please.

    And nobody is talking about how the timberland owners won’t be able to buy carbon credits because carbon sinks like growing trees can’t be measured like other pollution controls. Sod and grass seed growers, not them either.

    So, to answer your question, yes, I think Cap and Trade goes too far.

  10. Tim Manni Says: July 13th, 2009 at 11:05 am


    Great stuff. It’s starting to sound scary. We all know how inefficient and difficult Federal agencies are to deal with, imagine if one is in charge of regulating your home’s retrofitting — that’s scary to think about, it could be a disaster. I haven’t had a chance to review the bill in great detail, but if all these regs that you’ve mentioned are included, it could bankrupt homeowners that have their finances in order. As you said, imagine the potential destruction it will do to lower-income homeowners.


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Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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