A right-wing economic group with an anti-government philosophy is attacking a bill in the U.S. Senate aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming.Instead of a full frontal attack, the Club for Growth is targeting broadcast ads in four states, urging voters to call their senators and tell them to vote “no” on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which is scheduled to hit the Senate floor next Monday.

On Tuesday the group rolled out a $250,000 radio-and-television advertising campaign targeting Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), as well as Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller (both of West Virginia) and Max Baucus and Jon Tester (both of Montana). Dole is a co-sponsor of the bill. All the senators but Byrd and Tester are up for re-election in November.

The purpose of the ads is to stoke opposition to a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Joseph Lieberman, ID-Conn., to cap greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, factories, oil refineries and other polluters and require companies that exceed the limits to buy credits from other companies that don’t use all theirs.

The ad campaign began Tuesday in Tennessee, West Virginia and North Carolina. It will continue in Montana starting next week.

“Congress is at it again,” says a radio version of the ad being aired in North Carolina “This time they’re pushing massive new taxes and regulation in the name of global warming. North Carolinians are all for a cleaner environment, but let’s ask ourselves something: Do the unknown benefits of this new legislation justify the costs to our state?

“According a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, by 2030 North Carolina could lose over 146,000 jobs per year, see a 135 percent increase in electricity prices and an average loss of over $6,400 in disposable income per household annually. And the benefits? There’s no way to tell, because while Americans shoulder the economic burden, developing nations such as China and India would get a free pass.”

The ad gives a phone number for Sen. Dole and urges voters to call and tell her to vote against the Lieberman-Warner bill. “North Carolinians just can’t afford another huge, costly government program,” it says.

Proponents of the cap-and-trade legislation say it is crucial to combat global warming, but Club for Growth claims the legislation would impose tremendous costs on businesses, consumers, taxpayers and workers.

“While the benefits of the Lieberman-Warner bill are dubious at best, the costs to our economy will be massive,” Pat Toomey, the group’s president, said in a press release. “If this legislation passes, Americans can look forward to fewer jobs, lower income levels, rising electricity prices, and higher fuel bills. Congress has a tendency to pass feel-good bills without adequately considering the tremendous costs to American businesses and families. We hope these ads will encourage people to contact their senators and tell them the country simply can’t afford the Lieberman-Warner bill.”

On the other side of the issue, the Environmental Defense Fund released ads in 15 states supporting the Lieberman-Warner legislation. Featuring a man being bombarded by falling oil drums, the commercial tells viewers to call their senators and ask them to support the bill.

“By telling special interests they can’t pollute for free, the Climate Security Act will spur investment in cleaner technology, it will create manufacturing jobs and help end our oil addiction by expanding renewable energy,” the ad says. “Don’t let special interests win and America lose.”

A moderate Baptist ethicist described the Club of Growth as “economic extremists” and urged fellow Baptists to reject their claims.

“I think thoughtful, pragmatic Baptists will support the bipartisan Warner-Lieberman bill, the most realistic initiative to address climate change,” said Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics. “I believe they will see through the climate-change deniers at the Club of Growth, who have zilch commitment to earth care and the poor and total commitment to special-interest private gain at all costs.”

In April the BCE collected over 140 signatures from Baptist leaders in 25 states and the District of Columbia on a letter urging senators to “pass the strongest possible climate legislation that recognizes the needs and burdens of low-income and working families in the United States and around the world.”

“We have a moral duty to speak up for the vulnerable in our society,” the Baptist letter said. “Those who have contributed least to the problem of climate change stand to suffer the most. Those who are poor will likely bear the greatest burden economically from any large-scale program to reduce global warming pollution, if the legislation is not constructed correctly.”

BCE also recently launched TheGreenBible.org, a Web site resource warehousing information on the Bible’s mandate to care for the earth.

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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