The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a strong opponent of climate legislation even though the vast majority of the major businesses on the Chamber’s board who have a publicly stated their position on climate legislation support strong action (see here).
Now Tom Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is echoing the House GOP in pushing a petroleum industry falsehood designed to scare the public into opposing even modest climate and clean energy legislation (see “House GOP repeat in unison the petroleum industry falsehood that CBO finds the Waxman-Markey bill would raise gasoline prices 77 cents a gallon“). In a column for the Chamber’s online magazine, Donohue writes:
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost impact could be as much as $0.77 per gallon for gasoline, $0.83 per gallon for jet fuel, and $0.88 per gallon for diesel fuel–all ultimately borne by the consumer.
That scary charge is, as I’ve shown, a complete falsehood. It comes from the American Petroleum Institute, (see here) which decided to ignore the actual CBO analysis and offer its own instead, claiming it is what CBO found. The API is a strong opponent of the bill and has been pushing disinformation on global warming for more than a decade.
Let me set the record straight once again.
As a study by 5 national laboratories noted in1998, “$50 per tonne of carbon [$14 a tonne of carbon dioxide] corresponds to 12.5 cents per gallon of gasoline.”
To cause a $.77 increase in gasoline prices, the climate bill would have to result in greenhouse gas allowance prices of some $85 a ton of CO2. Now you can go to Table 3 of the CBO analysis yourself, and you’ll see that CBO estimates the allowance price will hit $26 a ton in 2019 – and that is in actual (not inflation-adjusted) dollars. In 2008 dollars, that would be closer to $21 to $22. So in fact the CBO estimates that gasoline prices in 2019 would be about 20 cents a gallon higher than today (in constant dollars). And that’s a lot lower than the price will rise if we don’t take strong action to jumpstart the transition to a cleaner, more efficient energy system.
Finally, as I’ve argued, I think the CBO estimate is on the high side. I doubt the allowance price will significantly exceed $15 a ton in 2020 (in constant dollars) — see Game changer, Part 2: Why unconventional natural gas makes the 2020 Waxman-Markey target so damn easy and cheap to meet. So the gasoline price rise will be even lower and more than offset by the myriad energy efficiency measures in the bill and in other Obama administration policies.
Perhaps it’s too much to ask the Chamber to actually promote sustainable commerce, as key members of its board do, rather than trying to convince the public that jump-starting the transition to a clean energy economy would be horrific. Ironically, it is in fact the impact of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions that would unleash incalculable horrors on future generations.