Climate Legislation Makes US Safer, per US Chamber-based Analysis

A few weeks ago, the US Chamber of Commerce came out with an analysis of US energy security risks that according to the National Journal it plans to use to evaluate federal climate legislation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to begin evaluating climate and energy legislation with a new energy security index made up of 37 metrics in four categories: geopolitical, economic, reliability and environmental.

Formally called the Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk, it will "certainly be able to help the chamber in making decisions going forward and helping our members understand the different equities each policy affects," said Karen Harbert, president of the chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy. "In an essence, it can be a scorecard."

This aroused the curiosity of analysts with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) (two respected, independent, and bipartisan research organizations), who write today in Slate that

In arguing against cap-and-trade, the chamber has repeatedly advanced the notion that such legislation would harm U.S. energy security in some fashion or another. So last month, when the chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy announced that it had created a comprehensive new index of "Energy Security Risk"—a tool designed "to track shifts in U.S. energy security over time and assess potential impacts of new policies"—we wondered whether its calculations might be applied to the most recent energy and climate change policy proposals. In other words, what would the chamber's own definition of energy security say about the cap-and-trade bills the group so consistently opposes?

Not an unreasonable question, since the Chamber analysis makes numerous references to carbon dioxide emissions as an important factor in US energy security. In fact, the Chamber explains the relationship between carbon dioxide emission and security quite clearly:

Lower emissions of carbon dioxide from energy mean a lower risk to energy security.

Back to the CFR and PIIE researchers. They replicated the Chamber’s own model and used it to analyze the security impacts of the recently introduced American Power Act. Guess what they found?

Our simulations show a marked decrease in U.S. energy security risk under the Kerry-Lieberman bill. Passage of the proposed legislation would slow the initial increase in the risk index predicted by the chamber, and by 2030, the risk index would be at least 8 percent lower than it would be otherwise.

How about that?

But what does this mean compared to other ups and downs in the index? I took a look at the Chamber’s nifty interactive index gadget and found that the lowest level the US Chamber has measured U.S. energy security during the last forty years was 72.6, about 11 points lower than today’s value.

If the lowest US energy security risk over the last forty years was just 11 points lower than today, it is pretty clear that the 8 percent improvement in US energy security that the American Power Act can provide would be a powerful reason to support climate legislation. 

So next time someone scoffs at the national security implications of climate policy, point ‘em to the conclusions the US Chamber’s own work point to.

And for those who say that national security comes first, well now you can let them know that all other things being equal, passage of the American Power Act would singlehandedly make the US nearly as safe as it’s ever been during the last forty years.