ALEC’s questionable claims about climate policies

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s “model legislation” for “State Withdrawal from Regional Climate Initiatives” is full of debatable and debunkable assertions. It starts off:

WHEREAS, there has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon reduction mandates …

In fact, there have been dozens upon dozens of such analyses. Environmental Defense Fund rounded up some of the best. Even while denying that any credible studies have been done on costs, the template goes on to claim that all sorts of costs are looming.

WHEREAS … cap-and-trade policies [et al] … will … increase consumer costs for electricity …

By no means do carbon-cutting policies have to lead to higher electricity costs for Americans — it depends on the specific kind of system implemented. For example, an EPA analysis of the Waxman-Markey climate bill in U.S. House found that it would lower average household utility bills.

WHEREAS, the Congressional Budget Office warns that the cost of cap-and-trade policies … will place a disproportionately high burden on poorer families

The CBO actually found that a cap-and-trade system could lower costs for low-income households if implemented the right way.

WHEREAS, a tremendous amount of economic growth would be sacrificed for a reduction in carbon emissions …

EDF’s roundup of economic analyses concludes that the “cost of capping global warming pollution over the next two decades is almost too small to measure.”

WHEREAS, no state or nation has enhanced economic opportunities for its citizens or increased Gross Domestic Product through cap and trade or other carbon reduction policies

Many analyses reach an opposite conclusion. A 2010 study by the California Air Resources Board projected that many parts of the state’s economy will grow, and the overall economy will not suffer, under its climate-change law. Germany, which has an aggressive pro-renewables policy, has grown the number of jobs in its renewables sector by 87 percent since 2004, according to a 2010 report, more than offsetting job losses that resulted from efforts to de-carbonize the nation’s economy. An analysis by Trevor Houser and his colleagues at the Peterson Institute for International Economics points to lots of potential job growth that could result from national climate policies.

WHEREAS, Europe’s cap and trade system has been undermined by political favoritism [and] accounting tricks …

The European Union’s system has had problems, but they’re totally fixable. And there’s no reason to believe those mistakes would be repeated in the U.S.; on the contrary, American wonks have been watching closely and will make sure not to replicate Europe’s errors. In the U.S., RGGI’s cap-and-trade system has been operating smoothly since 2008 with no evidence of fraud or manipulation, according to independent monitors; other non-carbon cap-and-trade markets in the U.S. have been running smoothly for decades.

There’s plenty of room for debate about the potential effects of climate policies, but ALEC’s predictions of gloom and doom have little basis in reality and are certainly not “facts” that state lawmakers of any persuasion should want to enshrine into legislation.