In Right Now, Michael Steele Repeats Debunked Cost Estimates For Clean Energy Legislation

January 05, 2010 3:01 pm ET

In his new book Right Now, Michael Steele cited a cap-and-trade cost estimate snatched from a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute.  The documents included a cost-estimate of an out-dated, abandoned cap-and-trade plan that immediately auctioned 100% of carbon allowances.  The American Clean Energy and Security Act does not do this.  In order to contain costs, the bill initially awards allowances for free, rendering CEI's revelation meaningless.

Michael Steele's Book Spreads Already-Disproven Myth About Clean Energy Legislation

Michael Steele:

The Obama administration publicly plays down the costs of cap-and-trade, but we know, at least partly, what they say in private. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Competitive Enterprise Institute obtained Treasury Department documents estimating that President Obama's cap-and trade plan would bring in up to $300 billion a year in new taxes on industry. [Steele, Right Now, p. 50-51]

The Treasury Documents Analyzed A Completely Different Plan, Rendering It Irrelevant

Treasury Document Cites Plan Auctioning Off 100% Of Carbon Permits.


[Competitive Enterprise Institute FOIA Document, accessed 9/16/09]

  • Bloomberg: "85 Percent Of The Cap-And-Trade Permits Would Be Given Away In The Early Years." As reported by Bloomberg: "85 percent of the cap-and-trade permits would be given away in the early years of a proposed climate-change program that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, wants his panel to pass next week. The biggest recipient, the electricity sector, would get 35 percent of the permits, also known as allowances or credits. Others that would receive a large share of the permits for free are energy-intensive manufacturers, natural gas distributors, automakers, and U.S. states with renewable energy and energy efficiency programs." [Bloomberg, 5/15/09]

Steele's Claim Has Been Repeatedly Debunked

The "$300 billion a year in new taxes" mentioned by Steele is the figure conservatives use to falsely claim clean energy legislation would cause families to pay $1,761 in new taxes every year. Media Matters Action Network has previously debunked such claims. Rated Claim FALSE: The "Statement That Households Will Pay $1,761 In New Taxes Every Year Is Based On A Blogger's Incorrect Assumptions And Overly Simple Math." According to the "statement that households will pay $1,761 in new taxes every year is based on a blogger's incorrect assumptions and overly simple math. The estimate does not account for revenue that will be returned to consumers in the form of rebates and other efficiency measures. Furthermore, the number is based on old numbers; the Treasury estimate was written on the premise that all permits would be sold, which, ultimately, is not the form that the Waxman-Markey legislation has taken. Finally, both Alexander and McCullagh portray money raised by selling these permits as a tax. We rate Alexander's claim False." [, 9/16/09]

Washington Post: "The Plan In The March Treasury Memo Is Not The One Being Debated In Congress." In an article describing the records obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Washington Post wrote "the plan in the March Treasury memo is not the one being debated in Congress." [Washington Post, 9/17/09]

Treasury Department: "The Reporting On The Treasury Analysis Is Flat Out Wrong." According to the Washington Post, "The Treasury said the furor was much ado about little. The March memo was not based on any independent Treasury analysis and summarized other studies. The transition team memo said that the government could use the revenue to 'offset distortionary taxes on labor or capital.' 'The reporting on the Treasury analysis is flat out wrong,' said Alan B. Krueger, Treasury assistant secretary for economic policy." [Washington Post, 9/17/09]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Have A Negligible Effect On Prices...

Reuters: "Climate Legislation Moving Through Congress Would Have Only A Modest Impact On Consumers." According to Reuters: "A new U.S. government study on Tuesday adds to a growing list of experts concluding that climate legislation moving through Congress would have only a modest impact on consumers, adding around $100 to household costs in 2020. Under the climate legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June, electricity, heating oil and other bills for average families will rise $134 in 2020 and $339 in 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration, the country's top energy forecaster." [Reuters, 8/5/09]

EIA: Clean Energy Legislation Would Cost Only $0.23 Per Day. According to a House Energy and Commerce Committee factsheet of the Energy Information Administration's analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act: "The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has completed an analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives... The overall impact on the average household, including the benefit of many of the energy efficiency provisions in the legislation, would be 23 cents per day ($83 per year). This is consistent with analyses by the Congressional Budget Office which projects a cost of 48 cents per day ($175 per year) and the Environmental Protection Agency which projects a cost of 22 to 30 cents per day ($80 to $111 per year)." [House Energy and Commerce Committee, EIA's Economic Analysis Of "The American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009," 8/4/09; emphasis original]

CBO: In 2020, Cap-And-Trade Will Only Cost An Average Of $175 Annually, "About A Postage Stamp A Day." In its analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Congressional Budget Office wrote: "On that basis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the net annual economy wide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion-or about $175 per household." Rep. Edward Markey noted it was "the cost of about a postage stamp a day." [CBO, 6/19/09; House Committee on Energy & Commerce Release, 6/20/09]

Cap-And-Trade Would DECREASE Energy Prices For Low-Income Americans. In its analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Congressional Budget Office wrote, "households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020." [CBO, 6/19/09; emphasis original]

... And Create Millions Of American Green Jobs

As Media Matters Action Network has noted, a recent study from UC Berkeley found that pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create up to 1.9 million jobs, boost GDP by up to $111 billion and increase families' incomes by nearly $1,200 per year!

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Will Create Over 1.7 Million American Jobs.  According to the Center for American Progress: "Investments in a clean-energy economy will generate major employment benefits for the entire U.S. economy. Our research finds that spending $150 billion on clean-energy investments would create roughly 1.7 million jobs. This is even after assuming a reduction in fossil fuel spending equivalent to the increase in clean-energy investments." [Center for American Progress, The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy, 6/17/09]

  • Every Single State Will Gain Jobs From An Investment In Clean Energy Technologies. According to the Center for American Progress, investments in clean energy projects would create 1.7 million American jobs in every state in the country. [Center for American Progress, The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy, 6/17/09]

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Creates FOUR TIMES As Many Jobs As An Investment In Oil & Gas.  According to the Center for American Progress, "spending $1 million on energy efficiency and renewable energy produces a much larger expansion of employment than spending the same amount on fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Among fossil fuels, job creation in coal is about 32 percent greater than that for oil and natural gas. The employment creation for energy efficiency-retrofitting and mass transit-is 2.5 times to four times larger than that for oil and natural gas. With renewable energy, the job creation ranges between 2.5 times to three times more than that for oil and gas." [Center for American Progress, The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy, 6/17/09]

Investment In Renewable Energy Has Already Salvaged Many Manufacturing Facilities Closed During Economic Downturn.  Across America, factories and plants abandoned by the old economy have been re-tooled and re-opened to satisfy the growing demand for new energy technologies. For instance, once hopeless manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan have re-energized their communities by creating jobs and leading the charge toward a new energy future. [Bloomberg, 4/2/09; Star Tribune, 4/22/09; Grand Rapids Press, 3/6/08]