Tags: Cap | and | Trade | pollutants

Cap-and-Trade Bill Faces Stormy Sea in House

Thursday, 28 May 2009 06:44 PM

By Ralph Hostetter

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Nationwide limits on global warming pollutants received a boost when the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Of course, it's a matter of conjecture whether those voting on committee Chairman Henry Waxman's sweeping, 1,000-page measure actually read it.

The proposal's centerpiece is a cap-and-trade plan. Under cap and trade, emitters of pollutants require permits, and the supply of these permitted allowances is capped at a level that reduces total emissions. A company that can cut emissions more easily and less expensively than another one that pollutes can trade the permits to the polluter.

The plan gives value to the permits, and the system creates a market for them.

Alice in Wonderland's comment, "Things are getting curiouser and curiouser," certainly applies when an analysis of the proposed law reveals that it would allow polluting firms in the United States to finance emissions reductions overseas in lieu of reducing their own global-warming pollution here. Furthermore, the act might allow U.S. emissions to continue to rise for up to 20 years, according to an analysis from Breakthrough Institute.

Waxman, a California Democrat, says the bill represents "decisive and historic action to promote America's energy security and to create millions of clean energy jobs. When this bill is enacted into law this year, [we] will break our dependence on foreign oil, make our nation the world leader in clean energy jobs and technology and cut global warming pollutants."

Not all Democrats agree on the climate-change legislation. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Colin Peterson, D-Minn., is leading a group of rural Democrats in rebellion against the bill.

Peterson, who believes the bill would create enormous burdens for farmers and ranchers, is threatening to bring it down on the floor.

He is demanding that Waxman and Speaker Nancy Pelosi heed some of his complaints or he will act.

The Washington Post carried this headline on May 22, "Climate bill 'badly flawed' ” above a story in which Steven Pearlstein wrote, "There are probably not more than a few hundred people who really understand what's in the legislation, how it would work and what its impact is likely to be.

"The other thing to say about it is that it is a badly flawed piece of public policy. It is so broad in its reach and complex in its details that it would be difficult to implement even in Sweden, let alone in a diverse and contentious country like the United States.

"It would create dozens of new government agencies with broad powers to set standards, dole out rebates and tax subsidies, and pick winning and losing technologies, even as it relies on newly created markets with newly created regulators to set prices and allocate resources.

"Its elaborate allocation of pollution allowances and offsets reads like a parody of industrial policy authored by editorial page writers . . . The opportunities for waste, fraud and regulatory screwup look enormous." Pearlstein concluded, "It's not too late to change our minds.”

Our neighbors to the north have been watching the United States as it moves to solve its global-warming problems. And they apparently are not impressed. Canadian Environment Minister Tim Prentice warned U.S. lawmakers to drop proposed trade sanctions on imports from countries with higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking in Washington at a meeting of the Conference of the Americas, he advised, "Trade protectionism in the name of environmental protection would be a prescription for disaster for both the global economy and the global environment. Border carbon adjustments would be a thinly disguised restriction on trade and an impediment both to wealth creation and to the attainment of our collective objective, which is to address greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce them. They would constitute arbitrary discrimination. They won't work and they threaten constructive negotiations."

Global warming has been promoted to such an extent that some are led to believe its consequences could be life-threatening. Many believers say it will cause drought, flooding, and famine. Millions of lives will be lost.

If this were a disease, we certainly would seek a second opinion.

Václav Klaus, president of the European Union, offered this opinion in the form of a review of the book "Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science by Ian Plimer":

"This is a very powerful, clear, understandable and extremely useful book. Ian Plimer fully exploits his unique scientific background in geology, his life-long academic experience, and his broad, truly interdisciplinary knowledge to dismantle the currently popular, politically correct but rationally untenable and indefensible position that the Earth is approaching catastrophic climate change and that we have to react — at all costs — to prevent it.

"Professor Plimer argues that the undergoing climate change is not unprecedented in history and that the temperatures in the 20th Century are not outside the range of natural variability.… He rightly assumes that humans will be able to adapt to any future coolings or warmings. He also convincingly criticizes the UN, the IPCC, UK and US politicians as well as ‘Hollywood show business celebrities.’ He strictly distinguishes science and environmental activism, politics and opportunism."

E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and publisher, also is an award-winning columnist and vice chairman of the Free Congress Foundation Board of Directors.

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