cap and trade

Post image for LaRouchies on Climate Change: My Guiltiest Pleasure

If you’re unfamiliar with the LaRouchies, collectively known as the LaRouche movement, they are mostly young people, organized in cells, dedicated to delivering the wacky message of their namesake, Lyndon LaRouche. Read all about Mr. LaRouche on Wikipedia. Here’s a highly edited snippet:

Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr…American political activist…largely promoting a conspiracist [sic] view…was a perennial presidential candidate…15 years’ imprisonment…Members of the LaRouche movement see LaRouche as a political leader in the tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt…conspiracy theorist, fascist, and anti-Semite…cult…”what may well be one of the strangest political groups in American history.”

While I could never support or respect a group whose ideological leader is an anti-Semite, and they are almost uniformly wrong, I will admit that the LaRouchies are my guiltiest pleasure. The movement has the right spirit on climate change policy, and their Abbie Hoffman stylings are entertaining to a “denier” like me.

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Post image for New Hampshire Senate Republicans Flinch

New Hampshire Senate Republicans have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on energy rationing policy. Two months ago, the State House of Representatives passed HB 519, legislation that would withdraw New Hampshire from a regional energy-rationing scheme known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), by a 246 to 104 vote. At the time, it was widely thought that the Senate would quickly follow suit, as Republicans control the upper chamber. Governor John Lynch (D) promised to veto the bill, but Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in both chambers of the legislature.

Then the environmentalist lobby mobilized and frightened many members of the Senate. The bill was delayed. Last week, the Senate Natural Resources Committee voted against HB 519 companion legislation. This week, the full Senate, where Republicans enjoy a 2 to 1 majority, voted to remain in the RGGI.

Post image for Rep. Ed Markey: Real Genius

According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the finest writer in American history, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” By this criterion, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) is a real genius, because he manages to function in the Congress, despite the fact that he thinks the price of gasoline should go up and down, simultaneously.

As one of the Congress’s foremost global warming alarmists, Rep. Markey believes that hydrocarbon energy is the cause of the supposed “problem” that is global warming. Due to this belief, he is a staunch supporter of energy policies designed to make hydrocarbon energy more expensive, so that Americans use less of it, and thereby fight global warming. For example, he co-authored the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme passed by the House of Representatives in June 2009. (Thankfully, the bill died in the Senate.) Because the entire point of this policy was to “put a price” on carbon, it would have increased the price of gasoline, by design.

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Post image for New Hampshire Republicans Waffle on Energy Rationing

Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate continue to dither like a eunuch in a brothel lobby, more than two months after the State House of Representatives enacted HB 519, legislation that would withdraw New Hampshire from a regional energy-rationing scheme known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, by a 246 to 104 vote. In late February, after the Republican-controlled House acted, it was widely thought that the Senate would quickly follow suit, as Republicans hold a 2 to 1 majority in the upper chamber. However, the environmentalist lobby mobilized and frightened many Members of the Legislature. Last week, the Senate Natural Resources Committee voted against HB 519 companion legislation. Nonetheless, the full Senate is expected to enact the measure this week, although it is unclear that there will be enough votes to override a promised veto from Governor John Lynch (D), even though Republicans have a veto-proof majority.

Post image for Canadian Election Results: No Cap-and-Trade, No Carbon Tax

The stunning victory by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in Canada’s election means the death of cap-and-trade or a carbon tax in Canada.  The Conservative Party’s platform firmly opposed both cap-and-trade and carbon taxes. The Liberal Party, which was annihilated in the election, equally strongly supported imposing a cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Conservatives won  a clear majority of 167 seats in the 308-member federal Parliament.  They had formed a minority government since 2007.  For the first time in Canadian history, the Liberal Party dropped to third place with 34 seats.  The hard left New Democratic Party (NDP) wiped out the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec and will become the official opposition with 102 seats.  The NDP and the Bloc Quebecois also support cap-and-trade.  The Green Party won its first seat in Parliament.

This is another clear sign that public support for cap-and-trade and other energy-rationing policies is waning.  Cap-and-trade has been dead in the United States since the Waxman-Markey bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009.  And in Australia, the Labour Party government is in deep trouble as a result of proposing a carbon tax.  The global warming fad appears to be fading fast.

On April 6, 2011, 50 Senators voted for S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, a bill to stop EPA from ‘legislating’ climate policy under the guise of implementing the Clean Air Act. Supporters needed 60 votes to pass the bill. “Senate Definitively Beats Back Efforts to Restrict EPA Climate Rules,” declared the title of Inside EPA’s column (April 8, 2011) on the vote. That is spin masquerading as news.

Let’s review some not-so-ancient history. In 2003, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced S. 139, the Climate Stewardship Act, a carbon cap-and-trade bill. It was defeated by a vote of 43-55. In 2005, McCain and Lieberman introduced a revised version, S. 1151, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. It went down in flames by a bigger margin: 38-60. In 2007, McLieberman introduced yet another iteration (S. 280), which never even made it to the floor for a vote.

In three different Congresses, the McLieberman bill died in the Senate. After these continual defeats, did Inside EPA, the bill’s sponsors, or any environmental group declare that the Senate “definitively” rejected cap-and-trade?

Of course not. Yet S. 482 garnered more votes than any cap-and-trade bill the Senate has ever debated. Sponsors of S. 482 say they will press for other opportunities to hold additional votes. The day after the Senate vote, the House passed an identical measure (H.R. 910) by a vote of 255-172, a large victory margin that should improve prospects for eventual passage in the Senate. 

Another vote could occur as early as next month when Congress debates whether to raise the national debt ceiling. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested last week that legislation to raise the debt ceiling — a key priority for Team Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed (D-Nev.) — might have to include curbs on EPA’s regulatory authority (The Hill, April 16, 2011). 

Since reports of S. 482’s demise are greatly exaggerated, it is useful to examine the tactics of leading Senate opponents. Previous posts review California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s tirade against S. 482 and Montana Sen. Max Baucus’s alternative legislation to codify EPA’s ever-growing ensemble of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. Today’s post offers a running commentary on New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s floor statement opposing S. 482 (Congressional Record, April 6, 2011, pp. S2170-71). If Lautenberg’s rant is the best opponents can do, they have “definitively” lost the debate. [click to continue…]

Routed Greens Retreat

by Marita Noon on April 11, 2011

Post image for Routed Greens Retreat

Climate change is real. Climate change is manmade. Manmade climate change has happened within the last twenty-four months.

Leaders in the climate change debate have controlled the message for forty years since the adoption of the Clean Air Act. They have “approached climate change politics with an air of disdain,” according to Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund (established in 1967).

Krupp addressed the changing political climate at Fortune Magazine’s Brainstorm Green Conference in early April and admitted that there is a “newfound hostility to climate policy.” He advised the environmental community to be “more humble” and “less arrogant.” He acknowledged the failure of a comprehensive energy and/or cap and trade policy.

Krupp is correct. With the falsification of climate records exposed—known as Climategate, the American people now see climate change as merely hysteria. Polls show they do not view it as a real problem that we need to address now.

At the same conference, Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, agreed. He said, “Cap and trade cannot be sold and must be reinvented,” adding that it was going to be hard to “resurrect cap and trade.”

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Post image for House Passes Energy Tax Prevention Act, 255-172

The House of Representatives this afternoon passed H. R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, by a vote of 255 to 172.  Nineteen Democrats voted Yes.  No Republicans voted No.  This is a remarkable turnaround from the last Congress when on 26th June 2009 the House voted 219 to 212 to pass the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act, sponsored by Rep. Fred. Upton (R-Mich.), the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and thereby put a potentially huge indirect tax on American consumers and businesses.   Coal, oil, and natural gas produce carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, when burned.  Those three fuels provide over 80% of the energy used in America.  Thus regulating carbon dioxide emissions essentially puts the EPA in charge of running the U. S. economy.

This is just the first step in stopping the Obama Administration’s attempt to raise energy prices .  The House bill now heads to the Senate, where yesterday an attempt to add the Energy Tax Prevention Act (introduced in the Senate as S. 482 by Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma) as an amendment to another bill was defeated on a 50-50 vote.  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s amendment would have required 60 votes to be attached to S. 493.  Four Democrats joined 46 Republicans in voting for the amendment–Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.  Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote No.

The strong House vote in favor of the Energy Tax Prevention Act should build new momentum to pass it in the Senate later this year.  Of course, the White House has already issued a veto threat, which shows that President Obama is not interested in creating new jobs and restoring prosperity to America.  Congress has now rejected cap-and-tax resoundingly, but the President still hopes to achieve through backdoor regulation his goals of skyrocketing electric rates and gasoline prices at the $10 a gallon European level.

Post image for Memo to WaPo: Opposition to Cap-and-Trade Is Bipartisan

Yesterday, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein posted about the President’s pitch for a so-called “Clean Energy Standard.” I don’t recommend his explanation; for a much more accurate description of the CES, check out this blog, by my colleague Marlo Lewis.

In this post, I intend only to rebut Klein’s mistaken claim that Congressional opposition to cap-and-trade is partisan. In fact, opposition to energy rationing schemes is one of the very few issues that enjoys support on both sides of the aisle in the Congress.

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Post image for California Judge Halts Implementation of Climate Change Policies

Via the Los Angeles Times.

Ironically, the cap-and-trade program has been temporarily halted due to a lawsuit brought forth by other environmental groups, concerned that the CARB did not sufficiently consider alternatives to a C&T program such as a direct carbon tax:

The groups contend that a cap-and-trade program would allow refineries, power plants and other big facilities in poor neighborhoods to avoid cutting emissions of both greenhouse gases and traditional air pollutants.

“This decision is good for low-income communities like Wilmington, Carson and Richmond,” said Bill Gallegos, executive director of Communities for a Better Environment. “It means that oil refineries, which emit enormous amounts of greenhouse gases and contribute to big health problems, cannot simply keep polluting by purchasing pollution credits, or doing out of state projects.”

This logic is odd, as even under a cap-and-trade program, oil refineries won’t simply disappear. It’s possible that they might be required to reduce their own pollution rather than buying permits, but this speaks mainly to the design of the cap-and-trade program. A small carbon tax would likely have the same effect, and if the design of the cap-and-trade program is any hint, it would be difficult to pass a significant carbon tax.

However, given that the program involves distributing initial permits to many companies for free (which, according to Wikipedia, will cover 90% of their emissions), a pure carbon tax would involve less corporatism.

Do recall the CARB press release touting the economic benefits of this program:

The economic analysis compares the recommendations in the draft Scoping Plan to doing nothing and shows that implementing the recommendations will result in:

  • Increased economic production of $27 billion
  • Increased overall gross state product of $4 billion
  • Increased overall personal income by $14 billion
  • Increased per capita income of $200
  • Increased jobs by more than 100,000

and subsequent commentary offered by peer review (many of whom support the program, none of whom buy into the free-lunch aspect):

Professor Robert Stavins, the Director of Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program:

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the economic analysis is terribly deficient in critical ways and should not be used by the State government or the public for the purpose of assessing the likely costs of CARB’s plans. I say this with some sadness, because I was hopeful that CARB would produce sensible policy proposals analyzed with sound scientific and economic analysis.