Smoking Papers On Global Warming

Climate Change: A Treasury Department analysis says a cap-and-trade law could cost American families more than $1,700 a year. No wonder administrators tried to keep the study secret.

The House narrowly approved — by seven votes — the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in June over complaints that it would be an undue financial burden to American families. It passed after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi strode to the chamber floor and claimed that “this legislation means jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs. Let’s vote for jobs.”

Even some of the bill’s supporters had to roll their eyes at the assertion. It was a talking point intended to convince those who have not been paying attention to the legislation’s severe shortcomings, not wise and experienced lawmakers who know better.

Throughout the debate, the bill’s defenders said Waxman-Markey would cost “less than the price of a postage stamp per day,” a small price to pay, they declared, for saving the Earth from global warming. Their evidence: a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated the cost would be $175 per household a year.

But, as is often the case in Washington, it’s what they didn’t say that was more important.

While the House debated and eventually voted, filed away within the walls of the Treasury Department was an internal estimate that projected a cap-and-trade law would cost Americans up to $200 billion a year in new taxes. These taxes won’t be levied directly but will be paid when power providers and other carbon dioxide producers buy CO2 emission allowances from the federal government and then pass the costs on to customers — as will inevitably happen.

Overall, the costs would be “the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15%,” Declan McCullagh reports on his “Taking Liberties” blog on

“At the upper end of the administration’s estimate, the cost per American household would be an extra $1,761 a year,” McCullagh wrote.

Had it not been for the efforts of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the analysis would have likely remained a guarded secret.

A handful of Treasury documents related to cap-and-trade, carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases were made public Tuesday, but only after CEI’s Christopher Horner used the Freedom of Information Act to force its disclosure.

“In short,” Horner wrote on National Review’s “Planet Gore” blog, the Treasury documents are “a candid snapshot of what they’re admitting to each other, while telling you a, ah, different story — to your face.”

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