TCS Daily

The Connecticut Con

By Sandy Liddy Bourne - May 20, 2004 12:00 AM

Despite the valiant efforts of a few state legislators to bring fiscal responsibility back into government, the Connecticut state legislature's recent passage of a controversial bill is best described as an exercise in rational ignorance.

The bill, SB 595, requires Connecticut to develop a plan that reduces state greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2010; 10% below 1990 levels by 2020; and 75% to 85% below 2001 levels by 2050.

First there is the little problem of the U.S. Constitution. The legislation cites an agreement between the New England Governors and the Northeastern Canadian Premieres and establishes a regulatory framework under that regional pact. This is arguably an agreement or compact between the New England states and a foreign nation. Article 1 Section 10 of the U.S Constitution explicitly says the Congress has the sole power to establish agreements and regulate commerce among the states and foreign nations.

The U.S. Senate rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and again this past session. SB 595 is a backdoor attempt to introduce the Kyoto Protocol into the U.S and will inevitably result in costly litigation at the taxpayers' expense.

Second is the Enron-like economic methodology used by the Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change in describing the costs and benefits of greenhouse gas legislation. In a fiscal note to the legislation, the "cost" is simply described as the purchase of software to be used to track greenhouse gases in a database registry. The fiscal note assumes through faulty logic that the regional emission reduction goals will be less expensive than state specific goals. Hence, it states that the costs to the citizens of Connecticut would be negligible. Sound too good to be true? It is.

The EPA data measures greenhouse gas emissions in the residential, transportation, commercial, electric utility, and industrial sectors. 75 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions arise from the residential, transportation and commercial sectors, meaning the largest portion of carbon dioxide emissions are from heating homes, driving cars, and operating small businesses. Forced reductions will increase the cost of energy and daily living for the residents of Connecticut.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Connecticut already has the 8th highest electricity prices in the nation. Natural gas prices are soaring, and gasoline prices are the 6th highest in the country.

The Yankee Institute for Public Policy estimated that each Connecticut household would pay approximately $700-$1300 annually for the next three decades with an additional loss of 17,000 jobs to the state within six years. According to the 2002 U.S. Census Bureau report 50,000 Connecticut families live below the poverty line. The current federal poverty guideline for a family of three is $15,670. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of statistics, 61,000 families live just above the poverty line. Applying the Yankee Institute's numbers to this data demonstrates that 10 percent of the working poor families would be severely impacted.

In 2003, 47 states experienced revenue shortfalls. Connecticut was no exception. Facing an estimated revenue shortfall of between $495-$700 million, Connecticut cut programs, raised taxes, and still fell $97 million short at the end of the year. To start the 2004 fiscal year with a clean slate, the government covered the shortfall by issuing short-term notes. While the economic recovery has increased tax revenues and the state is projected to end this fiscal year with a small surplus, Connecticut's budget process is far from stable. In the last two and a half years, the state convened six special legislative sessions to adjust the budget.

Finally, one has to ask, "Where is the science?" Climatologists agree that there may be global warming over the next one hundred years of approximately 1.6 degrees Celsius. If the Kyoto Protocol were to be implemented, the impact would only be approximately .07 degrees Celsius. Nationally, this would cost our economy $400 billion.

Carbon dioxide is not an air pollutant. It is an essential part of our ecological cycle and critical for plant growth. Wouldn't our dollars be better spent in research to determine an effective and economical solution to the global warming dilemma?

Connecticut is already an energy efficient state. Increasing the cost of living for the state's residents in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide is not going to improve energy efficiency or have a measurable environmental impact. In essence, the Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change and the state legislature have agreed to establish a new hidden energy tax hoping that the warm and fuzzy rhetoric of the climate alarmists have turned that famous Yankee frugality and common sense into an ignorant bliss.


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