Not Green: Obama Inauguration Will Generate More than Half-Billion Pounds of CO2

Here’s an environmental impact story you’re not likely to see in the mainstream media. Neither NBC’s chief environmental affair correspondent Anne Thompson, nor ABC correspondent Bill Blakemore nor CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley – all of whom have been eager over the years to expose so-called crimes against the environment – have rushed to report on the massive carbon footprint of the Obama inauguration.

But a comprehensive new study by The Institute for Liberty (IFL) took an in-depth look at each component of the Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington, D.C., and estimated that 575 million pounds of carbon dioxide will be emitted in the atmosphere for the inauguration – which is roughly equal to what the average American household would produce in 57,598 years.

Speaking with the Business & Media Institute, IFL President Andrew Langer noted the hypocrisy of the event having so large an environmental impact, especially in light of the strong stands promoting the case for manmade global warming of many of Obama’s cabinet picks. Even Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton characterized climate change as a national “security threat.”

“I think it’s certainly hypocritical that as they’re doing all of this – gauging these celebrations and they’re using them and some might say wasting a lot of energy,” Langer said. “But they are using a great deal of energy in this celebration. They can’t, on one hand ignore their own very real CO2 impact, while at the same time hamstringing everybody else.”

As news reports point out, it won’t be business as usual for in Washington for the inauguration. A query to the three Washington, D.C. airports – Baltimore-Washington International, Washington-Reagan and Washington-Dulles International revealed 22,364 additional airline seats will be added for the inaugural festivities.

A story by Nafeesa Syeed for the Associated Press on Jan. 10 predicted 10,000 buses will descend upon Washington. And Jeanne Meserve reported on CNN on Jan. 13 that 1 million personal vehicles (a slightly higher estimate than the IFL used) would be on Washington-area roads for the inauguration.

But all of this is not necessarily a bad thing, according to Langer.

“Small businesses in D.C. are going to do extremely well under the inaugural celebration over the weekend,” Langer said. “Folks are going to go out, they’re going to spend money, they’re going to buy food, go into taxi cabs – they’re going to do a lot of things and the fact is, that’s a very good thing.”

The IFL report included private airplanes, trains, subway trains, taxis, public transit buses, hotels and of course – horses. Livestock has recently been a target of environmentalists, and the federal government has considered charging a carbon tax on cows and pigs.

Langer admitted the report was incomplete because some elements were difficult to get data on.

“There are some things we couldn’t get data for,” Langer said. “Like the electricity for the equipment – the stage equipment up on the Hill and all the big-screen televisions they’re putting around the Mall. We couldn’t get data for that. We obviously didn’t know how many police cars were going to be out there idling – things of that nature.”

Langer said the intent of the study was to point out that, although there is some hypocrisy, the events surrounding the inauguration are a good thing. They’re serving a purpose in the economy, and any attempt to regulate carbon dioxide emissions would hurt the economy.

“The point we’re really raising is that it doesn’t really matter,” Langer added. “The point is, what we’re talking about is – production. We’re talking about productivity. And productivity means using energy and using energy means creating emissions. And so this whole effort to regulate CO2 as a pollutant is effectively hindering and hampering our ability to be a productive nation.”