In this week’s Acton Commentary, I discuss whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s planned regulation of carbon emissions can be justified from a Christian perspective. The EPA has found that carbon emissions endanger “public health and welfare,” and it is on track to begin regulating vehicle and power plant emissions.
Environmentalists claim that policies targeting carbon emissions, such as EPA regulation or a cap-and-trade program, will stimulate the economy by creating green jobs. Unfortunately, this is not the case – the government does not have the ability to create jobs.
Rather than stimulating the American economy, full regulation of carbon emissions will damage it severely. Essentially, a cap or a regulatory burden on carbon emissions would create energy scarcity, making it just as expensive to purchase energy from fossil fuels as it is to purchase energy from “renewable” sources. The supply of efficient energy would drop in order to encourage production and consumption of inefficient energy, and prices would skyrocket as a result.
Barack Obama himself admitted, as a presidential candidate, that rising energy prices form a crucial component of emissions regulation.
It’s not just energy prices that will rise. Prices for virtually all other goods and services will rise as well, because it takes energy to produce them. It takes energy to get a vegetable from a farmer’s field to your kitchen table. It takes energy to plant the vegetable, cultivate it, harvest it, transport it, keep it fresh, sell it in a lighted grocery store, drive it from the grocery store to the house, and cook it.
If energy expenses increase at every stage of the vegetable’s journey, what will happen to the price of the vegetable? It will rise. And rising prices will have the worst impact on the poor. Before Christians jump on the bandwagon of carbon politics, they would do well to think through not just the good intentions of climate policy, but the real-world consequences.
Read “In the ‘Green’ Economy, the Poor Pay More” on the Acton website.