Dr. Margo Thorning
Dr. Margo Thorning addresses a Lansing audience at an April Mackinac Center Issues and Ideas forum.

Michigan's already fragile economy would be further injured if Congress approves cap-and-trade legislation to regulate carbon emissions, a noted speaker explained at a recent Mackinac Center Issues & Ideas forum. Margo Thorning, senior vice president and chief economist at the American Council for Capital Formation, outlined her findings in late April at a Lansing I&I luncheon titled "Global Environmental and Economic Challenges."

Earlier that day, Thorning was a guest on "The Frank Beckmann Show" on WJR AM760 radio, and she later summarized her research in an Op-Ed that appeared in The Detroit News. The Michigan-specific findings that Thorning discussed in all three venues are startling. By 2030, a national climate change bill would impact Michigan in the following ways:

  • Annual state manufacturing output would decrease by between 5.4 percent and 6 percent.
  • Annual state transportation manufacturing alone would fall by 9 percent.
  • State gross domestic product would decline by between $12 billion and $16.5 billion.
  • Annual employment would decrease by 66,700 to 90,800 jobs.
  • Annual disposable household income would fall an average of between $883 and $1,435.
  • Household electricity prices could be 60 percent higher than they would be otherwise.

Thorning said all of this would occur with virtually no environmental gain. "Government agencies advising the president," she wrote in The Detroit News, "have already acknowledged that an America-only emissions cap will not make meaningful global reductions in greenhouse gas concentrations."

Thorning, who also served in the U.S. Department of Energy, said potential solutions should include improving the U.S. tax code to reduce the cost of new, cleaner technology; promoting market reforms to allow the developing world access to cleaner energy; and using nuclear power for electricity generation.

A video of Thorning's presentation is posted at www.mackinac.org/13088, and a transcript of her speech will soon be posted at www.mackinac.org/12867.