GOP turns candidate Obama’s words against him on climate change

Republicans are using President Obama’s own words against him in fighting the new carbon emissions limits for power plants.

The GOP is citing a six-year-old video in which he said his energy plan would cause electricity prices to skyrocket to argue the new standards will hurt the economy.

“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," Obama says in the January 2008 video, which captures a speech the then-senator gave as a presidential candidate to the San Francisco Chronicle about his cap-and-trade proposal.

The proposal would have limited emissions of carbon dioxide, and allowed companies to trade credits for the emissions.

“Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers,” Obama said. (

Monday’s proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not a cap-and-trade system, though EPA will allow states to institute cap-and-trade to comply with the rule.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday’s proposal shows that Obama kept his promise to raise energy prices.

“In many ways, this national energy tax is actually worse than the scheme Americans rejected four years ago,” Boehner said. “While the president may have kept his promise to make prices ‘skyrocket,’ it doesn’t have to be inevitable.”

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, called Obama’s comments “one promise he is actually delivering on.”

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said the rules “ignore the prevailing climate science and are meant solely to fulfill the president's campaign promise to make electricity prices ‘necessarily skyrocket.’”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee repeated the quote in robocalls it is deploying to fight vulnerable Democrats in four races.

Obama’s quote was part of a longer explanation of the difficulties of convincing people that a cap-and-trade plan is necessary.

EPA’s regulatory analysis found that it would increase electricity costs by up to 7 percent. But since states will likely implement energy efficiency programs to comply with the requirements, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said electricity bills will be 8 percent lower in 2030 than they would be without the rules.

EPA’s analysis found that the costs are dwarfed by the benefits, which total $90 billion by 2030, $7 billion of which are in health benefits.

That contrasts with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report that estimated that electricity costs could increase by $289 billion by 2030. The Chamber said the rule will cost more than $50 billion a year by 2030.