While the Obama administration and environmentalists celebrate Pope Francis’ encyclical on global warming, Sen. Jim Inhofe is warning the pope’s views on the subject could be used by the left to enact the biggest tax increase in U.S. history.
“I disagree with the pope’s philosophy on global warming,” the Oklahoma Republican said in a statement. “I am concerned that his encyclical will be used by global warming alarmists to advocate for policies that will equate to the largest, most regressive tax increase in our nation’s history.”
Francis’s encyclical, called “Laudato Si,” calls for reducing fossil fuel use and increasing green energy production. Francis also calls for a global agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming.
“Global regulatory norms are needed to impose obligations and prevent unacceptable actions, for example, when powerful companies dump contaminated waste or offshore polluting industries in other countries,” Francis wrote in his encyclical.
The pope’s message was celebrated by environmental activists and even Obama administration officials. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said the pope’s encyclical “should inspire all countries to redouble the deployment of clean energy technologies and energy efficiencies and find the international will to significantly cut global emissions of heat-trapping pollution.”
Environmental groups are already using the pope’s message to try and build support for regulations to reduce fossil fuel use. Democratic lawmakers have already introduced bills imposing taxes on CO2 emissions and the EPA is in the process of finalizing emissions limits for power plants.
Inhofe worries activists and left-wing politicians will use the pope’s encyclical as justification for policies that will raise energy prices — effectively imposing a massively regressive tax on Americans.
“It’s the poor that spend the largest portion of their expendable income to heat their homes, and they will be the ones to carry the heaviest burden of such onerous policies,” Inhofe said.
While Inhofe agrees mankind should protect the environment from traditional pollutants, he disagrees with calls to get rid of fossil fuels to fight global warming. Inhofe has made a name for himself opposing such regulations and for calling global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
“As Dr. Thomas Burke, EPA’s science advisor, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week, science is never settled,” Inhofe said. “Climate science isn’t settled.”
“We have been innovative with our energy supply, and for generations the United States has lifted people out of poverty through the development of our God-given natural resources, most prominently from fossil fuels,” he added. “We have worked to make these resources cleaner and more efficient, and natural gas is a perfect example.”
Like many conservatives, Inhofe argues that fossil fuels and industrialization have made the world much richer, and a richer world is a cleaner world — contrary to what the pope claims in his encyclical. The senator argues that ditching fossil fuels will drive more people into poverty and cause more harm to the environment.
“To unravel this fabric of economic opportunity would create more poverty, not less,” Inhofe said. “Energy is a lifeblood of the modern world, and we cannot ignore that efficient, cost-effective electricity is a means to sufficient healthcare, employment opportunities, agriculture production, and vitality of life.”
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