National Review Institute Hosts Energy Policy Debate

Peyton Knight contributes coverage of an energy policy and global warming debate sponsored earlier today in Washington by the National Review Institute:

This afternoon, the National Review Institute hosted a panel discussion at the National Press Club on energy production and how it relates to national security. The panel was moderated by CNBC’s Larry Kudlow. The panelists were:

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Member of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee

– David Hamilton, Director of Global Warming and Energy Programs for the Sierra Club

Steven F. Hayward, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

Andrew N. Liveris, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Dow Chemical Company

James Woolsey, Vice President of the Global Strategic Security Division at Booz Allen Hamilton

Larry Kudlow began the panel discussion with a series of questions. Is global warming real? Is it manmade? If it is manmade, how do we solve it? How do we solve it without wrecking our economy?

What resulted was a mostly congenial discussion energy policy. Congressman Diaz-Balart and the Sierra Club’s David Hamilton expressed the two most divergent views, recapped below:

*Congressman Diaz-Balart

Congressman Diaz-Balart stressed that no matter what global warming actions we take, above all, we need to make certain that we don’t destroy our economy. When Kudlow asked him about Hillary Clinton’s proposal for government to take energy company profits and hand them over to companies that invest in renewable energy projects, the Congressman responded pointedly: “That’s a bad idea.”

He explained that penalizing companies that produce energy would only create a disincentive for energy production. He noted that increasing the tax burden on domestic energy suppliers, as called for in the House energy bill, would result in fewer domestic energy resources and force the U.S. to rely more heavily on energy imports. The congressman pointed out that while government can play a role in steering the energy market, oftentimes, government intervention in the marketplace creates more problems than it solves.

As for increasing domestic energy production, Diaz-Balart prescribed a “federalist” approach. He said that if states like Alaska want to tap their fossil fuel resources, they should be permitted to do so – likewise with coastal states that wish to harvest natural gas from the Outer Continental Shelf.

There is a role for renewable energy and energy conservation to play in increasing U.S. energy security, according to Diaz-Balart. However, he lamented that too often these two issues are promoted as “silver bullets,” when, in fact, they are nothing of the sort. He stressed that there are many pieces to the energy puzzle, and that increased rhetoric, particularly from global warming alarmists, won’t help solve the problem.

According to him, the new congress isn’t doing much to help solve America’s energy problem. “So far, all we’ve done in this new congress is tax energy,” he said. “We have [an energy] bill that doesn’t create energy.”

He did pay global warming alarmists one compliment, however, pointing out that they were “pure capitalists” in the way they raised money and positioned themselves for lucrative research grants.

* David Hamilton

According to the Sierra Club’s David Hamilton, man-made global warming is real and we need to pursue solutions to it immediately. Citing the need for government intervention, he claimed, “Global warming is the greatest market failure in the history of economics.”

Hamilton says that global warming is occurring so quickly, that in addition to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions a draconian 80 percent by the year 2050, we will also “need to hope that nature will cut us a break.”

When asked if he supported increased nuclear power as part of the global warming solution, he laughed, and said “it’s funny when free-marketeers talk about reviving nuclear power” because Americans have long since rejected it.

When asked how effective a tax on carbon dioxide emissions might be in reducing CO2 emissions, he replied that he preferred a cap-and-trade approach, whereby companies would be given a government mandated allotment of “carbon credits.” Companies could then use those credits emitting carbon, or, if they don’t use all of their credits, they could sell them to other companies who have exceeded their allotment. However, he noted a similar scheme instituted under the Kyoto Protocol and the Clean Air Act in the U.S. was flawed because companies were given too many credits and ended up either emitting vast quantities of CO2, or netting easy money from their surplus credits.

Both Hamilton and James Woolsey tried to convince panelists that reducing CO2 emissions could be a help to the economy, as opposed to a hindrance. Larry Kudlow was quick to rebut that CO2 restrictions would “undoubtedly” harm the economy, cause massive job losses and shave as much as four percent off U.S. GDP.

To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]

P.S. Power Line has additional commentary about the event here.

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