Former energy executive Claiborne Deming told a Friday lunch gathering of about 100 Fort Smith area business and civic leaders that the proposed federal cap and trade bill is “extraordinarily draconian,” will destroy the U.S. economy, and it was “hijacked” by environmental extremists in the Democrat Party.
And those were the kind things he had to say.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, commonly referred to the cap and trade bill and the Waxman-Markey bill, was approved by the U.S House of Representatives on June 26 on a 219-212 vote. U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, was the only member of Arkansas’ delegation in the House to vote for the bill. It is now on the Senate calendar.
Among its numerous provisions, the proposed bill establishes a national energy production standard requiring 20% of retail electric sales to come from combined renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2020. The bill also establishes greenhouse cap and trade provisions that cover 85% of the overall economy, including electricity producers, oil refineries, natural gas suppliers, and energy-intensive industries like iron, steel, cement and paper manufacturers, according to the filing by Entergy Arkansas.
Deming explained that the legislation seeks to reduce carbon emissions by each Arkansan to 2.8 tons per year by 2050. Deming said each Arkansan now has a carbon footprint of about 22 tons per year, and noted that 2.8 tons is equal to driving the average vehicle 6,800 miles.
Energy is not a new passion for Deming. He was the president and CEO of El Dorado-based Murphy Oil Corp. between October 1994 and December 2008, where he continues to serve as chairman of the Murphy Oil executive committee. He also was behind the El Dorado Promise, a $50 million program funded by Murphy Oil that provides scholarships to qualified graduates of the El Dorado Public School system.
He told the chamber crowd that the legislation is simply a huge tax on consumers meant to force Americans to “dramatically” alter their lifestyles. He added that if you believe climate change is real and a man-made problem, then don’t expect the legislation to help.
“And in the end, there will be no real impact on the problem” of climate change, but the bill will have wrecked the U.S. economy,” Deming noted. (Link here for more of Deming’s comments on the issue from a recent interview with Roby Brock. And link here for a 60-second video of Deming talk about why he believes cap and trade legislation won’t help climate change.)
Not all in the national business community oppose cap and trade. The United States Climate Action Partnership is a group of businesses that have banded together to support the cap and trade bill. Heavyweights in the partnership include Caterpillar, General Electric, Dow Chemical, Alcoa and Johnson & Johnson.
“These costs are a necessary investment in the future if the U.S. is to become the world leader in clean energy technology. American businesses stand ready to invest in a safe, secure energy future for America once there is the certainty of a national policy that puts a price on carbon and expands markets for clean energy products,” according to a statement from the partnership.
Although Deming’s speech was organized and marketed by the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, the chamber has not taken a position on the proposed federal bill.
Deming, who traveled to Fort Smith after delivering his presentation to a large audience at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, said he has yet to receive feedback from cap and trade supporters.
The next several weeks will see Deming presenting his case in Camden, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Rogers, Springdale and Texarkana.