Global Warming and Energy: My Oped in the DC Examiner

My oped in Today’s Washington Examiner

Mark Newgent: O’Malley’s global warming attack means higher energy bills

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Democrats in the General Assembly are trying to have it both ways. They are promoting dangerous energy and climate change legislation in the name of saving the environment, and relieving ratepayers from rising energy prices.

Do not be fooled by the Orwellian rhetoric, their legislative prescriptions will harm your family’s finances and damage Maryland’s economy even more than last year’s historic tax increases; without any detectable affect on climate change.

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The Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC), written by the alarmist advocacy group, Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), inspired O’Malley and his legislative allies.

Examiner readers may remember that after much obfuscation from Air and Radiation Administration Director Tad Aburn, the Maryland Department of the Environment finally agreed to release public documents relating to CCS and the MCCC, but only at the cost of $1,381.

The Global Warming Solutions Act aspires to reduce carbon emissions 90 percent by 2050 through a government mandated cap and trade scheme. Carbon-emitting companies would be required to limit their emissions below a state mandated cap.

Emitters who cannot meet the cap may purchase carbon credits from companies below it. The state would auction off the credits, with companies passing the costs on to consumers. Europe’s Kyoto-inspired cap-and-trade program is a dismal failure, causing energy rationing and soaring electricity rates, without meeting its intended emission reduction goals.

The deceptively titled “EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act” aims for a 15 percent reduction in total electricity consumption by 2015 as a means to mitigate climate change and lower electricity rates. EmPower Maryland requires energy companies to create programs that encourage conservation. Consumers would bear the costs of the programs.

Specifically, the bill requires electric companies to institute rate decoupling and demand-side management fees. Decoupling allows utilities to charge customers for the costs of purchasing and distributing energy. Utilities still get a return on their investment regardless of the amount of electricity consumed.

In other words, no matter how much you conserve, you will still be subject to rate increases. According to federal Energy Information Administration data, other states that implemented decoupling saw their electricity rates increase dramatically, in some cases more than 50 percent.

Demand-side management fees are customer fees that utilities can slap on their customers who use too much electricity during peak demand periods. If you feel too hot in July or too cold in January, it will cost you to adjust the thermostat.

Other proposed legislation includes increasing state mandates on utilities to purchase expensive renewable energy (wind and solar), which will increase consumer costs. Not surprisingly, an official for a large solar company sits on the MCCC. Proposals not yet introduced as legislation include increasing the gas tax, vehicle emissions taxes and pay-as-you drive insurance fees.

Climate change alarmists claim that the short-term costs of their policy prescriptions pale in comparison with the apocalyptic costs of no immediate action to mitigate global warming. The flaw in this argument is, even if all their policy wishes came true, the effect on global temperature would be barely detectable.

Thus, when sea levels rise, submerging Manhattan and Katrina-like hurricanes deluge our coastal areas, we will not have the ability to adapt because our economy is too constrained in vain attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

Progressive politicians would have you believe they can stop global warming without increasing energy costs and harming the economy. They would rather deceive us thereby saving them the hard choice between satisfying environmental special interests and offering real solutions to the state’s energy issues. They cannot have it both ways.

Mark Newgent of Baltimore blogs at RedMaryland.

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