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Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS): Industry Groups Kick off Tour to Kill Climate Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2008
10:13 AM

CONTACT: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
Jim Rubens, 603-359-3300

 
US Chamber, National Association of Manufacturers and Industry Front Group Kick Off Four-State Tour to Kill Senate Climate Change Bill
Groups Promote Flawed Study To Make Their Case, According to Science Advocacy Organization
 

WASHINGTON, DC - March 12 - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth are kicking off a four-state tour today with a forum in Manchester, New Hampshire, in their quest to turn public opinion against a pending climate change bill in Congress. Over the next few weeks they plan to hold similar events in Fargo, North Dakota (March 18), Billings, Montana (March 19), and Columbus, Ohio (April 21).

The climate legislation, informally called the Lieberman-Warner bill after its main sponsors, Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.) and John Warner (R-Va.), would establish a cap-and-trade system to reduce global warming pollution. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) maintains such a cap-and-trade regime is critical to prevent the worst consequences of global warming.

The Chamber and NAM are longtime foes of government regulation and have been fighting efforts to curb global warming for years. The relative newcomer of the three groups, the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, was founded in 2001 by the energy industry.

To advance their case, the three organizations are relying on a flawed analysis, according to UCS. A consulting firm, Charles River Associates International (CRA), conducted the analysis for the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade association for big utilities. The analysis, which predicts the bill's cap-and-trade program would hurt the economy, has been criticized even by electric utility companies. In a letter to EEI sent last week, the CEOs from Constellation Energy, Entergy, Exelon, PG&E and four other major utilities charged that the study's dire predictions are exaggerated. They asked EEI to have CRA redo its analysis. (For the utility companies' letter to EEI, go to: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/EEI_CEG_Memo_030408.pdf.)

"This is pure fear mongering by industry front groups using slanted economics to try to maintain America's addiction to fossil fuels," said Jim Rubens of UCS. "Having failed to confuse the public about the science of global warming, they are now trying to confuse us on the economics of dealing with the problem."

According to UCS, the CRA study's major defects include its failure to consider:
  • The costs of global warming, such as increased flooding, the demise of the New Hampshire ski industry, and reduced forest productivity;

  • Cost savings from investments in increased efficiency, which would curb power usage;

  • Economic gains from technological innovation in response to carbon caps and other policies; and

  • Additional benefits from combating global warming, including strengthened national security, lower trade deficits, less air pollution, and reduced health care costs.

Most economic analyses of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill predict U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) will drop a mere 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent by 2050. A recent McKinsey & Company analysis of a substantial greenhouse gas pollution reduction target, for example, projects that the economic benefits of taking action, chiefly energy savings, will roughly offset the economic costs by 2030. (For the McKinsey analysis, go to www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/cci/pdf/US_ghg_final_report.pdf.)

Moreover, the cost of inaction would dwarf the cost of addressing global warming, according to an analysis by former World Bank Chief Economist Sir Nicholas Stern. Stern found that world economic output could drop by as much as 20 percent if we maintained business as usual.

The following experts are available for comment:


  • Will Abbott, New Hampshire Forest Society, wabbott@forestsociety.org, 603-224-9945 x 327.

  • Julie Nelson, PhD, economist and senior research associate, Tufts University, julie.nelson@tufts.edu, 617-627-6872. (For Nelson's paper addressing the flaws of the CRA methodology, go to: www.e3network.org/resources/HowCostlyMitigation2008.pdf.)

  • John Laitner, PhD, director of economic policy analysis for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), jslaitner@aceee.org, 571-332-9434 (cell). (Laitner worked at the EPA for 10 years and has evaluated several climate economy models.)

  • Nat Keohane, PhD, director of economic policy and analysis, Climate and Air Program, Environmental Defense Fund, nkeohane@edf.org, 212-505-2100 ext. 1271. (Keohane has critiqued the CRA study.)

  • Robert Repetto, PhD, professor of economics and sustainable development, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Robert.repetto@yale.edu, 203-432-9784 (work), 203-785-9213 (home). (For Repetto's synthesis of 25 economic models predicting the impact of reducing U.S. carbon emissions, go to: www.climate.yale.edu/seeforyourself/.)

  • Janice Crawford, director, Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, janice@mtwashingtonvalley.org, 603-356-5701 ext. 2.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has offices in Berkeley, California, and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

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