Editorial

Cap and trade not worth the cost

Sunday, June 28, 2009

There has been a lot of debate in Washington D.C. this week over the Waxman-Markey bill, also known as "cap & trade" or the American Clean Energy & Security Act.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on Friday, by a vote of 219-212, and now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

The controversial bill would impose the nation's first limits on greenhouse gas emissions, linked by some to global warming, and would attempt to shift the country away from reliance on fossil fuels.

The legislation, which runs over a thousand pages, features a concept called "cap and trade," which proponents claim will put a firm limit, or cap, on emissions.

Over time, the cap will steadily decline, so that by the year 2050, greenhouse gas emissions will have been reduced by 83 percent, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

But an analysis by Chip Knappenberger, administrator of the World Climate Report, says this goal would only reduce global temperature by 2050 by about one tenth of one degree Farenheit.

Although companies' emissions would be capped under the bill, those same companies would be able to purchase rights to emit pollution at levels above their cap from other companies falling short of their allowed emissions.

In effect, it becomes a sin tax, a cost that will simply be passed on to consumers.

For example, if an energy producer using coal-fired plants emits more gases than allowed, it could purchase further emission rights from another company, then pass that cost on to energy consumers in the form of higher electric bills. Not only would it affect our home heating bills, it would drive up overhead for business and industry, which again would be passed on to consumers through higher costs for goods and services.

The environmental behemoth Greenpeace is against the bill, saying the legislation has been weakened by industry lobbyists.

Others call the legislation "cap and tax," and both those who are against or support the bill agree that the result would be higher energy costs on American consumers -- but the question is "how much?"

Those who oppose this bill are calling it "the largest tax increase in American history," with Republicans describing it as a "jobs killer." According to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation, the bill would have a major negative impact on the economy.

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank with a stated mission to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of "free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." It is widely considered one of the world's most influential public policy research institutes.

Heritage estimates that unemployment and taxes would increase dramatically if the current bill were made into law.

For our area, the Sixth Congressional District of Tennessee, Heritage says the total Gross Domestic Product loss is estimated to be $689.5 million, with a personal income loss of $435.3 million in 2012 alone. Heritage also predicts non-farm job losses for the district at 4,342 for the year 2012.

Jeff Lyash, the outgoing head of Progress Energy Florida, says that the cap and trade bill could raise consumer costs 20 to 50 percent over the next 15 years.

The editors of the Chicago Tribune, President Obama's hometown paper, calls the bill too big, and says that lawmakers are trying to rush it through too quickly.

Energy costs impact every aspect of our lives -- transportation, food, electricity bills and income.

With the economy in its current shape, rushing a law through Congress that would take more money out of everyone's pockets in exchange for potential environmental improvements is the wrong way to go for America.

-- This editorial represents the position of the Times-Gazette's editorial board on this issue. The editorial board includes Hugh Jones, publisher; William Mitchell, general manager; John Philleo, editor; and John I. Carney, city editor. Staff Writer Brian Mosely assisted with this editorial.

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  • I absolutely agree with this opinion piece even though I am usually for recycling and trying to make the planet a better place . . . this piece of legislation will cost us taxpayers during a time when we dont need the extra burden.

    Unfortunately Republicans and Democrats quit working for the American people long ago!

    -- Posted by jaxspike on Sun, Jun 28, 2009, at 1:32 AM
  • Lies, manipulation, intimidation and bribes were used to force the House to pass Obama's economy killing bill! House members were not given time even to read the bill! Corruption and coercion have reached levels previously seen only in Marxist dictatorships like those of Cuba or Venezuela.

    Obama's Cap and trade is another giant step towards Marxism -- and the corruption, poverty, enslavement, destruction and despair that Marxism entails.

    Obama is working much faster than Hugo Chavez at destroying the economy and imposing Marxism. No wonder the Russians are gloating:

    From Pravda: "...the American descent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people..." http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/107459-american_capitalism-0

    We must do whatever is necessary to support those ready to defend us and push out all those selling us out to Obama and his accomplices.

    -- Posted by AntonioSosa on Sun, Jun 28, 2009, at 10:07 PM
  • What cost? The cost of compliance? The goals are moderate and easily attainable in my opinion, at least in the near term. What is the cost of doing nothing to stimulate alternative solutions? Necessity is the mother of invention and maintaining profitability is a necessity. Can any of you say with a straight face that remaining dependant on foreign oil and dirty coal is a better idea? Are you guys like the rest of the media and get your marching orders directly from those who profit from the status quo? To effect change, we must necessarily work for it and pay for it. Without sticks and carrots, we will remain beholden to the energy giants forever.

    Anyway, where is your faith in American ingenuity? I may be overly optimistic here, but I would like to believe that with enough motivation and a few deterrents, we can reach the levels prescribed in half a century. Just look at what have we been able to do in the last 50 years. Success may not change the climate, but it will certainly change the face of American industry and the spheres of political and economic influence in the world.

    Everything is doom and gloom here. What happens when we do develop cleaner and cheaper energy sources? What happens to the profits them? A little discomfort in the near term has a big payoff in the future. I dislike higher taxes and inflation as much as anyone, but when compared to bailing out big business and fighting costly wars for oil, I have to believe that this must be a better way to concentrate the collective efforts of this nation.

    -- Posted by memyselfi on Tue, Jun 30, 2009, at 8:30 AM
  • What cost you say? How about the cost of our future based on a science that is unproven? How about the US government raising the cost of production to the point that it drives business further out of the country while other countries continue to produce at a lower cost? How about China gaining more of the world market while we fall back in the pack? Maybe we need to ask Al Gore. His campaign was getting money from China through a Buddist Temple and now he is advocating a climate control on the USA that will have direct financial benefit to China.

    -- Posted by sameoldstory on Wed, Jul 1, 2009, at 1:31 PM
  • The cost of our very future rides on this bill? Is it really that serious? That just may be the case. I would come closer to believing that anyone against it is betting the wrong horse though.

    Is it based on an unproven science, or is it better understood to be based on well documented global and domestic economic conditions and realities?

    The way I see it, the only reason it would force additional job flight is if the numbers outlined were not achievable. They are. China is going to get what they get regardless, and if anything, China will be more willing to create some benchmarks of their own once we have. You may ask Al Gore whatever you like. This bill has little relevance to what he would like to see, but only represents a small concession to people of his mentality (if even that). It is best described as guarded and cautious, and much more concerned with economics opposed to ecology. If someone told you this bill was for the tree huggers, they lied.

    This bill will cost nowhere near the ridiculous numbers floating around. It stresses initiative more than punitive damages. I will give you the fact that if there were no initiative or investment and everything else remains exactly as it is with no change, the cost will be substantial. If there is some movement in the right direction though, the cost will be minimal. Actually, the minimal cost could be further offset by the increased investment in cleaner energy sources and profits from the trade if we are looking at the economy as a whole. A lot can be done with a little effort. The first 20 years we are only looking at small changes to make big differences. Small changes that could have already been made with very little additional investment, but have not, as there was no initiative.

    You see, the cost of our future with no changes has already been determined with accuracy. Forget about the environment, we really do have an energy crisis in the wings. To overcome it eventually, we must at least point the cart in the right direction now. Cleaner and cheaper energy will take development and effort. This represents just that. No more and no less. Passing this bill does have a cost, but not passing this bill has a cost also. Which is greater?

    This bill is good for the world, good for the country, and more importantly, good for the people in it. It is good for capital. It will eventually be great for the producers and manufacturers who resent it now. It is also good for the consumers. The best side benefit of it is that it is good for all of us who depend on breathing to sustain life. The only group that it is truly bad for is the group that represents the current end all & be all energy solutions. That is why it passed the House despite all the rhetorical propaganda levied against it and why, short of a miracle, or the mobilization of the brainwashed masses, it will eventually become law.

    This is not a new concept. It has worked in the past and will work again. We are a modern day success story demonstrating exactly how market forces paired with regulation can indeed change realities in a cost effective and productive way.

    -- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Jul 2, 2009, at 7:54 AM
  • The cost of our future rides on unproven theory. 98% of greenhouse gas comes from natural sources. Of that remaining 2%, the United States only produces 1/4 of the carbons that create a green house effect. So we are going to spend billions of dollars, allow Russia and China to out produce us to correct .05% of the problem. We can't even make a dent in what the Earth itself is producing.

    memyselfandi..... you have fallen for the big lie. You have fallen for the belief that the plant is wasting away and we had better make changes or we all die. And what is all this science based on.... the simple fact that over the past 100 years the overall global temp average has risen 1 degree. That's all.... for all of our building and production and cars on the road, the Earth's average temp has risen 1 degree.

    now you must ask yourself.... Who stands to benefit for the US wasting billions and driving jobs out of this country. China and Russia. You are a fool if you think that China and Russia cares about the environment. All they care about is lifting power away from the US. And it's foolish, ignorant beliefs like yours that is giving them this power. They aren't even having to work hard for it. Thanks to the leaders you choose, they are getting control without lifting a finger. In 1993, China led the world in coal consumption. They continue to build coal burning plants because they know it's a cheep energy source. Therefore they can produce goods at a much lower cost than US or Russia.

    No...there are MANY reasons why Cap and Trade is going to harm us in the lang run, but go in continuing to believe what the Chosen One and Al Gore is selling you. One day you and those like you will wake up, by that time we will not be the leading world power we are today. We will be chasing China and thinking about the days when we had it so go and didn't have to bow to any nation.

    -- Posted by sameoldstory on Fri, Jul 3, 2009, at 12:13 PM
  • And what energy crisis? We have untapped oil right here in the US the can loosen our need for foreign oil, but the tree-huggers and the Pelosi-ites will not let us drill in our own back yard. The "energy crisis" is just another term used by the Democrats to scare you into believing that you must go along with their wishes or you will have no planet to live on. All lies....but typical of the Democrats. Once they have you believing their lies they can then make you believe that only the government can help you. You then send most of your money to the government and they tell you how to spend it. Then you are completely under their control and must bow to anything they wish to do. Hope you enjoy giving up all your freedoms and choices. Hope you enjoy the government telling you what to drive, what to eat and what type of health care you must buy. Why even collect a paycheck. Just work for the socialist system and we can all live in peace and harmony having all things equal. History has shown us that a socialist system works great! (not)

    -- Posted by sameoldstory on Fri, Jul 3, 2009, at 12:22 PM
  • I just do not believe this bill has anything to do with the environment, except that it looks good to claim that it does. It not only makes the average citizen believe something is being done to address climate change, it is a nod to the environmentalists and attempts to camouflage the true intent of the bill from the global community. The true intent is to begin looking toward a new direction with our energy policy.

    You misunderstand me completely, I agree there are many lies generated and I may have fallen for a few, but climate change is not one of them. I do not doubt it happening. I do however doubt the given cause and future predictions. No one really knows and I have no trouble accepting that as a variable. If I had to guess though, it does not represent a natural cycle; it was caused by nukes, and is not something we could stop even if we wanted to. I also believe it is completely unpredictable and best understood as a wait and see situation.

    "Who would benefit?" I have asked myself that very question. Like I wrote earlier, I think everyone will. When you think about waste, I wonder if you do not see that it is not about waste, but direction of the resources in question. Is digging the coal out of the ground wasteful? What about developing new technology to get more out faster or to burn it cleaner? Of course it is not wasteful, it is an investment. Just like investing in other alternatives should not be considered wasteful. The way I see it, the only thing that weakens the US against other nations is a dependence on their energy.

    "What energy crisis?" It seems as though you are the one who has been lied to. Yes, we do have untapped oil right here in our own backyard. If you believe it remains in the ground because of environmental concerns, you are mistaken. There are enough proven oil reserves in our back yard to last our country for about 1000 days, so go ahead and drill baby drill, just make sure you have a backup ready, or can find it in 1000 days. Else the economy stops abruptly, the ability of our military all but stops and we just reverted to 19th century realities or necessarily become the client state of another. What we have in the ground had better remain there for a rainy day. There are many different types of oil and many different ways to get at it. The easy higher quality supplies are all but gone. That means the price will be increasing faster than the technology in the very near future. There is plenty of coal here, but it is dirty and dangerous. To mine what we would require to meet our needs, we would lose many miners, increase our healthcare cost dramatically, lower the mortality rate across the board and all be living beside a coal burning plant. Does that sound like a good option to you? I tell you what, I will ask my grandfather. He knows all about coal. Oh I almost forgot, I can't ask him. He died from black-lung some years back. It looked to be quite painful for him, but that coal sure did burn well. Seriously, if we burn all the coal we need without some investment in safer and cleaner coal use, we do not have to worry about global warming at all; the coal will kill us first.

    This is not about right or left, it is about finding solutions for problems, real problems that will not go away on their own, but can be solved with some effort. As far as I can tell, the supporters of this bill are not fanatical. They support not only the investment in the future, they continue to support the current investment in what we already have. It is the opponents of this bill who are fanatical. It is people who have "foolish, ignorant beliefs like yours" that prefer all energy investment to remain diverted into a losing proposition with no incentives to speak of for improvement or development.

    You wrote about our freedoms and choices. Where is the choice to be free of the dependence of foreign energy and the freedom to choose how we create our energy in your preferred scenario? Doing nothing represents no freedom and no choice. There are times that for us to have any choices, we have to create them. This is one of those times.

    You really worry about China? How about this, we develop effective true clean coal technology, and then sell it to China by forcing them to comply with existing trade agreements? We get cleaner air and a return of our investment. If done properly, we can force the Chinese workers to pay for the initiatives that keep us one step ahead. That is how it usually works anyway. Why should this be any different? At least in this case they get something out of it as well - cleaner air, better health and a better quality of life. You know, we may even be able to make a dent in that trade deficit by shipping them coal, making them even more dependant on our economy and reducing the strategic importance of the Middle East and OPEC.

    Doom and gloom. There are plenty of things to be worried about in the current political atmosphere. This is just not one of them. Instead you should look at it as one less thing to worry about, a step in the right direction that is long overdue. This should have been done 30 years ago.

    -- Posted by memyselfi on Sat, Jul 4, 2009, at 2:52 AM
  • Holy cow, the world is about to end or a snowball just survived a trip to hell. I had to read twice to be sure and can't believe I am about to say;

    I agree with memyselfi 100%.

    -- Posted by gottago on Tue, Jul 7, 2009, at 8:54 PM
  • It's hard not to agree with someone who is usually so accurate in their assessments.

    -- Posted by nascarfanatic on Sun, Jul 26, 2009, at 2:32 PM
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