As the Senate debates the Climate Security Act, one of its sponsors, Sen. Joe Lieberman, is pouncing on claims that the bill amounts to a tax on Americans' energy use.
In truth, passage of the bill, which would cap carbon dioxide emissions on smokestacks and tailpipes and allow companies to trade credits so long as pollution remains below the cap, would result in higher energy prices. President Bush, in vowing to veto the bill, said the bill would cost the economy $6 trillion.
Lieberman doesn't claim the bill would save everyone money immediately. He draws a contrast, though, between do-nothing strategy embodied by Bush visiting Saudi Arabia to ask sheiks to boost oil supply, versus a strategy that will generate trillions of dollars for renewable and alternative energy research and development. That, after all, is how the money would be used, and that would ultimately produce energy sources that save Americans money and the headaches of entanglements with unsavory oil-rich regimes.
His argument is crystallized this way: The Department of Energy estimates his Climate Security Act, co-sponsored with Republican John Warner of Virginia, would result in a 2-cent annual increase in the cost of gasoline. The cost of gasoline has jumped 250% since Bush took office.
In other words, choose a path forward. Energy policy matters, and relying on the vagaries of the oil market is not a safe bet.
It's more or less the same argument Sen. Barack Obama made when he criticized opponents Hillary Clinton and John McCain for supporting the summer gas tax holiday, which might save drivers a few cents now, but would work against instituting a long-term strategy for reducing global warming and making the United States more energy-independent.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.