Rep. Fred Upton Fudges Facts

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, wrote an op-ed Monday in the Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, complaining that global warming action will cost too much.

And, he might have a point — if his facts were, well, factual.

Instead, his sensationalistic claims seem to justify his opposition to global warming action rather than engage in a clear-headed debate.

In this Truth Squad entry, we’ll examine his op-ed point by point:

That’s Not What MIT’s Report Says


“According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology model of a 100 percent auction cap-and-tax, the American people will be taxed $366 billion in 2015 — four times as much as the president’s estimate of $80.3 billion for that year… A family of four could expect to pay as much as $4,560 in additional costs in 2015.”


MIT has publicly berated the NRCC’s misrepresentation of its report, yet the unwarranted claims using these incorrect estimates keep resurfacing.  According to MIT, the correct estimate of the cost for an average household in 2015 is about $65 per family.

It’s 10 cents a Day


“Increased energy costs would near $1 trillion in 2030. Increases in electricity costs could be more than 100 percent.”


A cap on carbon pollution will help break America’s addiction to oil and create jobs, while protecting the family budget.

Best of all, it’s affordable. For example, based on Department of Energy estimates, it will only cost the average American household about ten cents a day more on their utility bills — this includes electricity AND heating. That’s roughly what it costs to brew one pot of coffee in the morning.

A Cap Will Unleash American Innovation


“There is no help for businesses that may move across our borders or permanently shut down operations. Not welcome news, especially with one-third of our jobs dependent on exports. Quite simply, cap-and-trade caps our growth and trades our jobs.”


Maintaining the competitive edge of the U.S. is a critical issue that has not been lost on the policy-makers on Capitol Hill— all cap proposals include provisions to avoid losing out to overseas industry.

The real question is which countries and companies will be exporting new clean energy technologies — likely the biggest new business of the 21st century. A cap will unleash the investment necessary for America to get ahead in this race.

Our steel plants need orders, our factories need new customers, and our exporters need high value products to sell to Asia and Europe.

A cap will drive enormous clean energy investments throughout the supply chain– generating demand for ball bearings and steel for wind turbines, glass and plastics for solar cells, and hundreds of new technologies.

President Obama recognized this when he explained that the effort to create millions of jobs and restore American leadership will ‘start with a federal cap and trade system.’

Cap and Trade is a Proven Environmental Policy


“Cap-and-tax can only hurt the economy while providing a questionable environmental benefit.”


When a similar cap-and-trade policy was proposed for reducing acid rain pollution during the 1990 Clean Air Act battle, our opponents made this very same argument over and over. It’ll cost too much. It won’t work.

What happened? Well, the cap on sulfur dioxide pollution worked so well that The Economist crowned it “probably the greatest green success story of the past decade.” (July 6, 2002).

In the 1990s, the U.S. acid rain cap and trade program achieved 100% compliance in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions. In fact, power plants participating in the program reduced SO2 emissions 22% — 7.3 million tons — below mandated levels.

All this has been achieved at a fraction of the cost estimates. Prior to the launch of the program, costs were estimated to run from $3-$25 billion per year. After the first 2 years of the program, the costs were actually $0.8 billion per year and the long-term costs of the program are expected to be around $1.0-$1.4 billion per year, far below early projections.

The doom-and-gloomers were wrong then. And they’re wrong now.

The U.S. Must Lead


“The U.S. cannot go it alone in the effort to cut greenhouse gases. Absent a global agreement that includes the heavy-emitting developing countries, cap-and-tax will only send energy costs up while sending employment numbers down.”


The Congressman will be happy to know that 183 countries have signed and ratified the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, which calls for emission reductions from developed countries and other commitments from lesser developed countries. In fact, the United States is one of only 14 countries not to ratify the Kyoto agreement, joining the likes of Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Brunei. We’ve been going it nearly alone alright — alone in inaction.

Rep. Upton actually makes the case for domestic global warming action this year. The world will meet again in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December to negotiate the next international agreement for global climate action. If we fail to lead on this issue by acting domestically, we will have a weaker negotiating position from which to shape the international debate to our liking.

Five Principles of Successful Global Warming Action


“Any climate change legislation must adhere to five basic principles: 1) provide a tangible environmental benefit to the American people; 2) advance technology and provide the opportunity for export; 3) protect American jobs; 4) strengthen U.S. energy security; and 5) require global participation.”


1) Check; 2) Check; 3) Check; 4) Check; 5) Check. Hard to argue with these goals — in fact, they are some of the same goals that will be achieved when we pass a comprehensive cap on America’s global warming pollution as proposed under the draft Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security Act.

83% reduction of America’s global warming emissions by 2050 (as called for in the bill) is about as tangible an environmental benefit as you can get — it is entirely consistent with what most scientists say is necessary to avoid the catastrophic threats of run-away global warming.

Want more green energy technologies? A cap will unleash our clean energy future by creating powerful market incentives to invent and deploy new green energy innovation.

Concerned about jobs? As we’ve shown in our Less Carbon More Jobs report, a cap on carbon will put Americans back to work.

What about our reliance on foreign oil? A cap will begin to free us from our dependence on imported oil.

And, when it comes to global participation, bold leadership from the United States will encourage China, India and other emerging economies to the table — if we don’t show leadership, how can we possibly expect other countries to act?

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  1. Posted January 28, 2010 at 5:46 am | Permalink

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  2. Posted May 23, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I cannot wait to read more of this great topic. So much of it Ive never even thought of. You sure did put a new twist on something that Ive heard so much about. I dont believe Ive actually read anything that does this subject as good justice as you just did.