September 13, 2021

Democrats Hitch Climate Plans to Reckless Tax and Spend Spree


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Democrats have made clear their reckless tax and spend spree will impose their radical climate agenda.
  • Their proposals – from a carbon import fee to a national clean energy standard – threaten to undermine American energy jobs and reliability, and would mean higher prices for consumers.
  • The left is pursuing this partisan path despite Senate passage of comprehensive, bipartisan infrastructure legislation that would provide billions of dollars for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

In August, the Senate passed sweeping, bipartisan infrastructure legislation. That bill reauthorizes federal surface transportation programs and funds resiliency and energy efficiency efforts. Minutes after passing the bill, Democrats turned to their $3.5 trillion reckless tax and spending spree. They have made clear their intention to use the reconciliation process as the vehicle to enact radical climate policies that lack enough support to otherwise pass Congress.

According to a memorandum prepared by Senate Budget Committee Democrats, their partisan plan will “put America on a path to meet President Biden’s climate change goals of 80% clean electricity and 50% economy-wide carbon emissions reductions by 2030.” House Democrats have been releasing first drafts of their tax and spending spree provisions, including initial iterations of some of their climate plans. The left’s proposed approach threatens to undermine American energy jobs and reliability, and it would mean higher prices for consumers.

Democrats’ Plan to Decimate American Energy

National Clean Energy Standard

For years, liberal members of Congress have advocated for creating a renewable or clean energy standard at the federal level. Democrats have acknowledged they’re working to manipulate the policy to fit within the procedural parameters of their reckless tax and spending spree, now pitching it as a “Clean Electricity Payment Program.” Reports in the press suggest they will give taxpayers’ money to electricity providers that shift to renewable sources and penalize those that do not. A national mandate of this sort would give wind and solar – which currently account for only 14% of electricity generated – an unfair advantage in competing against more traditional energy sources. Such a one-sided approach could endanger the estimated 10 million jobs supported by the oil and gas industry, not to mention all of the jobs supported by coal, nuclear, and other forms of baseload power generation.

Climate Spending Spree

A dramatic shift to renewable sources, as Democrats are proposing, would make a greater share of our power generation dependent on the weather. It would undercut reliability and make the entire country more susceptible to California-style blackouts and brownouts. Spiking prices for power would increase the cost of heating or cooling homes. This would hurt low- and fixed-income families the most. There are real world examples of how restrictive energy policies are playing out. To prevent rolling blackouts this summer, California had to temporarily add five oil and gas power generators at existing facilities to boost electricity output and avoid shortfalls. Europe, with some of the highest electricity costs in the world, also shows how bad energy policy can hurt consumers and ruin industrial competitiveness. We should learn from these mistakes and prioritize affordable, reliable energy.

Carbon Import Fee

Democrats say their plan won’t raise energy costs, yet they are calling on the Finance Committee to develop a “Carbon Polluter Import Fee” so U.S. industries won’t flee overseas. Democrats first revealed they would include the initiative earlier this summer, prompting significant concerns about the practicality and efficiency of their approach. Such a fee could mean increased prices for imported goods; for example, it could raise the price of fertilizer, which agriculture operations mostly import. Those costs will inevitably be passed on to families at the checkout counter.

Climate Spending Spree

Methane Fee

Democrats have told the Committee on Environment and Public Works to include in its scheme a “methane polluter fee to reduce carbon emissions.” America’s energy producers are successfully curbing methane emissions – from 1990 to 2019, emissions from natural gas systems decreased 16% even as gas production jumped 91%. Yet, Democrats still want to penalize producers. This fee could lead to higher prices for consumers when they are already paying more across the board due to inflation.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the largest source of U.S. methane emissions in 2019 was enteric fermentation via livestock digestion, so liberal activists want EPA to regulate methane emissions from hog and dairy operations. During initial Senate debate leading up to the Democrats’ reckless tax and spend spree, Senator Joni Ernst offered an amendment aimed at prohibiting onerous regulations that could make prices of beef and other products soar. The amendment, which was based on bipartisan legislation, was adopted by a vote of 66-33. Democrats should recognize the bipartisan interest in shielding ranchers and farmers from costly regulations.

Civilian Climate Corps

Democrats are also seeking to create their pet “Civilian Climate Corps” program. Legislation previously introduced by Democrats would give people enlisting in the program free housing, food, transportation, and clothing, as well as money to cover education costs. Our economy has a record 10.9 million open jobs, and small businesses are struggling to fill positions. These employers are pleading for more workers to fuel the economic recovery, but Democrats want to push new Depression-era type programs to further crowd out private sector employment in favor of politically favored government jobs at taxpayer expense. 

Issue Tags: Energy, Environment