Climate Regulations and Carbon Offsets Would Harm Poor
and Minority Households, Says Project 21
Officials Urged to Grill Al Gore About His Rich-Get-Warmer,
Poor-Get-Colder Global Warming Offset Proposals
at House and Senate Hearings Wednesday
Release from Project 21
March 21, 2007
Washington, D.C. - Members of the black leadership network Project 21 urge elected representatives to use Al Gore's appearances today before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to ask the former Vice President about his own lavish energy consumption -- and his advocacy of a society in which only the wealthy could enjoy amenities most Americans currently take for granted, like home heating.
Gore's proposals would result in a society in which the rich get warmer and the poor get colder.
While Gore is a long-time proponent of personal energy conservation and draconian regulations to mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research revealed that Gore's mansion in the exclusive Belle Meade neighborhood of Nashville uses more than 20 times the national household average of electricity.
In response, Gore's office said the Gores "do the carbon emissions offset" -- such as making environment-related investments -- that allegedly neutralize the environmental harm related to their extraordinarily-high energy use.
Gore receives his offsets as a benefit from a company that he co-founded -- Generation Investment Management -- and reportedly does not pay for them himself. Interestingly, Carbon Neutral Company, which provides Generation Investment Management with its offsets, says its offsets "will be unable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions... in the short term."
If Gore's "buying offsets" strategy were to be adopted nationally, the average consumer would essentially be expected to pay twice for heat and power: first for the energy itself, then for offsets to atone for them.
Such double-billing would be particularly harmful to poor households, which, disproportionately, are minority.
"Al Gore may sleep well at night thinking he's not contributing to global warming, but if he expects everyone to be able to buy their way out of the sin of using electricity, natural gas and driving their cars to work and errands without having to cut back on necessities he is badly mistaken," said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. "From the looks of their utility bills, the Gores kept their home warm and toasty this winter. Have they thought about the single mother who provides for her family on a paycheck-by-paycheck basis? I don't think she could afford an offset to heat her home without cutting back on something vital such as nutritional food and health care for herself and her children."
According to the federal Energy Information Agency, in an analysis released during the Clinton-Gore administration, imposing the restrictions mandated by the United Nation's Kyoto Global Warming Treaty would cost the U.S. economy $400 billion per year and would raise utility bills by 86 percent and gasoline by 66 cents a gallon.
An econometric study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce and other groups found that Kyoto regulations could put 3.2 million American jobs at risk -- including 864,000 jobs held by blacks and 511,000 held by Hispanics.
Already this winter, eight states, including Gore's Tennessee, report they have run out of money to help poor households pay for heating bills. Households that cannot afford to heat their homes, let alone pay for offsets.
"People are already freezing because they can't pay their bills and aid to help them is already stretched too thin. Al Gore would only make things worse if he imposed increased regulations on public utilities," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "If he wants to create a society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, Gore's got the right idea with his global warming offsets and regulations."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992.