Jane Van Ryan
Posted December 7, 2009
Those of us who studied American history in school know that December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day, the commemoration of the day of "infamy" when the Japanese bombed the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. The nation countered by entering World War II in the Pacific and later in Europe, and Americans bought war bonds and scrimped to support the fighting men abroad.
On this December 7, Americans once again are being asked to make an economic sacrifice for a global cause. Today is the opening day of the two-week long international climate talks in Copenhagen where President Obama is expected to announce his desire to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.
Furthermore, the international community is likely to ask the United States to contribute to a down-payment of $10 billion to help less-prosperous countries mitigate the effects of global climate change. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the White House stands ready to pay its "fair share."
Add to that today's climate change "endangerment finding" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and it appears that American taxpayers could find themselves paying for a worldwide climate issue that could reduce their standard of living and become a major detriment to the American Dream.
Several trade associations have voiced their concern about the EPA's finding. Today's Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said the finding "could result in a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project."
Similarly the National Association of Manufacturers has stated that the EPA's action "is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy."
Just a short time ago, API said, "This action poses a threat to every American family and business if it leads to regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act...The Clean Air Act was meant to control traditional air pollution, not greenhouse gases that come from every vehicle, home, factory and farm in America. A fit-for-purpose climate law is a much preferred solution."
Additionally, in yesterday's Washington Post, columnist George Will questioned whether it's even possible to meet the president's emissions targets. He crunched the numbers and found "2050 emissions will equal those in 1910, when there were 92 million Americans. But there will be 420 million Americans in 2050, so Obama's promise means that per capita emissions then will be about what they were in 1875. That. Will. Not. Happen."
Last week, several U.S. senators sent a letter to President Obama reminding him that the Constitution requires the Senate to approve treaties with foreign nations. But the administration can impose its will on Americans via EPA regulatory actions.
Actions to mitigate climate change are likely to be costly. Studies conducted on the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill clearly show that climate legislation could result in a loss of more than 2 million jobs, and gasoline prices could soar to about $5 a gallon. And a recent Harris Poll found that support for climate action is slipping.
On Pearl Harbor Day, it's appropriate to ask the following question: Are you, as a member of the American public, willing to make a big, personal economic sacrifice for global climate change? If not, visit the Action Center to contact your elected officials.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.