Carbon Bigfoot and Inconsistencies

By: Institute for Liberty (from
By: Institute for Liberty (from

In a few short days, millions will be flocking to the nation's capitol to celebrate a truly historic moment in U.S. history - the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. Among his many campaign pledges, the President-elect has made energy and environment policy a cornerstone of his campaign, promising American votes a “new chapter” in climate leadership while also calling on Americans to do their voluntary part benefit the environment.

But the four-day festivities surrounding his upcoming Inauguration will produce enough carbon dioxide to make most environmentalists turn a sickly shade of green. The Institute For Liberty (IFL) utilizes data from federal agencies, environmentalist organizations, and news accounts to extrapolate the estimated environmental impact for the 2009 Inauguration. IFL estimates that, given the millions of people expected to converge on the nation's capital: the 600 private jets expected to fly visitors to and from the event will produce 25,320,000 POUNDS of CO2, personal vehicles could account for 262,483,200 POUNDS of CO2, in the parade, horses alone will produce more than 400 POUNDS of CO2, the total carbon footprint for the Inauguration will likely exceed 575 million POUNDS of CO2. It would take the average U.S. household 57,598 years to produce a carbon footprint equal to that of the new president's housewarming party

While the Obama administration is free to celebrate as it sees fit, the extraordinarily high environmental impact of its Inauguration produces a troubling juxtaposition with policies then-Senator and presidential candidate Obama supported.

The Obama/Biden campaign has said it wishes to impose a cap-and-trade scheme to regulate carbon dioxide and reduce emissions by an astonishing 80 percent by 2050. Unlike a direct tax on carbon, which would be transparent and allow for U.S. businesses and citizens to plan their budgets accordingly, a cap-and-trade scheme is not transparent. It would create a giant slush fund for government bureaucrats while doing little or nothing to improve the environment.

The U.S. regulatory structure already costs the American economy more than $1 trillion per year. For the average small business (of 20 employees or fewer), this translates to $7,700 per employee per year. An announced rulemaking effort by the EPA would add millions of more hours of paperwork to this burden as the department seeks to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. If politicians mandate that U.S. businesses radically limit their emissions, the fallout could be widespread: construction could screech to a grinding halt, trial lawyers could file millions of greenhouse gas-related civil suits, and many industry may be forced to permanently scale down their presence in America, sending countless jobs and capital overseas. Still developing nations such as China maintain much less stringent environmental standards than the United States, and businesses and populations living in these places will continue to emit at increasingly higher rates as their economies grow. The leakage of these emissions will effectively ensure that global greenhouse gas concentrations will not improve. Regulation of carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act could therefore result in economic chaos with little, if any, actual benefit to the environment.

Instead of increasing the cost of energy by regulating or taxing Americans, political leaders should heed the saying, “Drill, baby, drill.” Expanding access to America's domestic resourceswill increase energy security and provide a means of keeping the price of foreign energy sources down. This will unleash U.S. economic growth instead of further stunting output and investment by imposing punitive and unproductive policies.

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