October 2, 2009

Obama's EPA sells climate 'handicap-and-trade'

FROM-LA Ecopolitics Examiner-PAUL TAYLOR

Yesterday at Governor Schwarzenegger’s Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, President Obama’s new Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Lisa Jackson re-affirmed its push to make power utilities and industry pay for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with global warming. EPA's proposed carbon controls would apply to facilities that emit 25,000 tons or more of greenhouse gases per year.

The proposed rules, which could take effect as early as 2011, would place the greatest cost burden on 400 U.S. coal-fired power plants, including new and expanded electric power facilities, by requiring them to install the “best available technology” to reduce CO2 emissions or pay continuing fines. These CO2 fines, if set on par with world carbon credit prices, could be in the range of $20 to $40 per ton – fining marginal emitters some $500,000 per year. The new carbon regulations would cover about 70% of the greenhouse gas emitters in the U.S., according to EPA.

EPA Administrator Jackson was the former head of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, where she led her state's efforts to regulate auto greenhouse gas emissions. With our two houses of Congress grinding out climate legislation around a cap-and-trade carbon tax, EPA is rushing to align itself with the progressive international climate crusaders that will meet in Copenhagen in December to come up with a replacement for the failed Kyoto Protocol’s expiration in 2012.

Cap-and-trade CO2 control systems were first adopted by the European Union (EU) countries in 2005. The theoretical climate benefit of cap-and-trade or carbon tax systems is that by making companies pay for CO2 emissions, government forces the switch to carbon-neutral or renewable technologies. Since 2005, the EU’s cap-and-trade system has failed both the environmental goals and the market goals – all at considerably increased costs to conventional energy users and job losses with no climate benefits.

Because there are no carbon-neutral or renewable replacements for the CO2 sources EPA will now regulate, the actual long-term business destruction, job losses, trade distortions and consumer costs of cap-and-trade cannot be known. Without controls on larger global CO2 emitters, such as China, India, Russia, etc., the U.S. carbon controls will handicap our economy during recession for nothing more than gratuitous green symbolism. Maybe EPA should call it “handicap-and-trade.”


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