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Kai Ryssdal: All right, so let’s see — trillions for health-care reform, trillions for bank and financial system bailouts. At those prices, the new climate change bill that Congress is working on would seem to be a relative bargain. Ever since they started debating greenhouse gas emissions on Capitol Hill, we have been inundated with wildly differing estimates of how much a cap-and-trade system is going to cost. Late last week the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with what is widely considered an authoritative estimate, an estimate that might move the debate forward some. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sarah Gardner reports.
SARAH GARDNER: Some critics have warned that limiting greenhouse gases through emissions trading will end up costing the average American household more than $3,000 a year in higher energy prices. But the latest numbers from the Congressional Budget Office put that figure much lower: CBO says, by 2020, proposed climate legislation would cost an average of $175 per household, about $22 billion a year nationwide. Harvard economist Robert Stavins says his own research backs that up.
ROBERT STAVINS: They ought to be at least debating and discussing honest and real numbers and CBO here is providing the correct numbers. Whether this is a large amount or a small amount certainly depends on one’s perspective.
From Dan Lashof’s perspective, it’s a reasonable expense. He directs the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
DAN LASHOF: They confirm an analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency which shows that protecting the planet is very affordable.
Lashof says that $175 figure takes into account rebates, tax credits and other consumer paybacks contained in the current legislation. But critics are unmoved.
The Michigan Congressman who requested the CBO report, Republican Dave Camp, said today the analysis makes clear that national climate legislation is, quote, ” a new multi-billion dollar tax on every American family.” Camp called it a “direct violation” of President Obama’s promise that families making less than $250,000 a year wouldn’t pay higher taxes.
I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.
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