Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chaffetz Labels Global Warming "A Farce"

Richfield -

In his recent "town hall meeting" held in three central Utah towns within his district, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah 3rd) has leveled a lot of criticism on the gathering forces behind clean energy and the philosophy of new cabinet secretary, Nobel laureate Steven Chu. In addition, Chaffetz extended his concern to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who are going to "plow right over us because they have the numbers," said Chaffetz.

photo courtesy of the Deseret News

Chaffetz seemed comfortable with mixing some oranges with his apples when criticising taxation floated by the democratically-controlled White House and congress. One of his oft-repeated attacks is that the Obama administration "spends too much, borrows too much and taxes too much." But as he cites the apparent disparity where "the President of the United States has looked everyone in the eye and promised that 95% of Americans will not have any tax increase," Chaffetz immediately cites a different tax proposal (on tobacco) that has nothing to do with income taxes or the White House.

Admitting that the republicans "blew it," during the Bush 43 administration when congressional numbers favored his party, Chaffetz has charmed some Washington insiders, including the media (Stephen Cobert, Fox News and others) with his "cot-side chats" and vocal admonishments of "business as usual."

In his recent appearance in his district's coal-rich Sevier County, Chaffetz warned the predominantly fifty-and-sixty-something crowd that "cap and trade" would be a tax on everyone. "Regular-ol' households, you could see as much as a 65% increase in your energy costs. If you're a business," Chaffetz exhorts, "your energy costs are going to go up 100%," offering an atypical pause for emphasis. "As far as I'm concerned, so-called 'global warming' is a farce."

Chaffetz' congressional assignments include the "Energy and Minerals" subcommittee. He told his constituents to "take whatever you spend on energy and double it. This is not the time, when we are struggling with our economy, to be increasing this tax," prompting the clean energy proponents in his audience to observe that "cap and trade" is not a tax at all but rather a more honest way of describing and offsetting the real costs of doing "business as usual."

Steven Chu (left) in Stockholm, Sweden

Nobel laureate and cabinet Secretary of Energy Steven Chu maintains that he is not in favor of a "carbon tax," and that the "cap and trade" system currently being examined in congress may shed light on the true cost of "business as usual" when intangibles like health care (for those living near coal-fired power generation facilities) and the increase of collected mercury (and other) toxins in lakes, streams and the fish that inhabit them are accounted for. From this point of view, "cap and trade" is not seen as a tax at all, but in Sec. Chu's words, it is a way that America can take conventional power sources and "use them more wisely."

After Chaffetz' presentation, local AM radio KSVC's Bruce Mayhew posed what some thought to be a "nerf ball" soft question, asking what had been the most important part of his visit to Central Utah. Chaffetz reasserted that it was being in contact with the people and that they "have the chance to looking me in the eyes and ask me about what is going on in Washington D.C. and how it impacts our community." Congressman Chaffetz is featured on CNN's "Freshman Year," along with Colorado's newly-elected Jared Polis (D-Colorado 2nd).

Included in last Saturday's Richfield audience was cooperative energy operator Carl Albrecht, Six County Association of Governments chief Russ Cowley and Sevier county commissioner Gordon Topham, a former republican party leader in central Utah.


  1. There is industry-wide and watchdog agreement that electric rates will likely increase across much of Utah by about 3.3 percent according to wire services and the Utah Public Services Commission, the body which approves utility pricing in the state. The commission could approve the increase as early as Tuesday of next week.

    The $45 million annual rate hike would be the second in the past six months, coming on top of a $39 million increase that represented a 3 percent hike for households.

    Utah's Committee of Consumer Services represents "regular ol' households" as well as small businesses. It describes the 3.3 percent increase a "win for consumers" because Rocky Mountain Power (PacifiCorp) originally wanted a larger rate hike that was denied, prompting some to describe Rep. Chaffetz' comments an attempt to pander to big business interests.

  2. The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray indicates that "cap and trade" may not be a priority for the White House until later. That the minority's "tax" frame may have "resonated."

  3. UPDATE:

    Here's a link to the Republican response to BHO's budget proposal. Notice that it's authors also use the "it spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much" line that Rep. Chaffetz asserted in his central Utah town hall meeting.