Saturday, January 23, 2010

Partisan Hypocrisy On Cap-and-Trade

Some say that applying the success of cap-and-trade related to sulfur dioxide (SO2) in EPA's Acid Rain Program will not work for carbon dioxide (CO2). We disagree. It will work. In fact it will work better because it will lead to reductions and create a vast array of different kinds of jobs in every part of our economy. Although a big part of of the SO2 program was due to turning to low-sulfur coal, it also led to the installation of a significant number of scrubbers. So although EPA is currently considering industrial sites with greater than 25,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, the agency should also consider a way to include 'anyone' as an allowance or offset entrepreneur. With CO2, the sky is literally the limit.

As in the Acid Rain Program, 'anyone' should be allowed to hold and trade allowances and offsets in Congress' or EPA's CO2 cap-and-trade program. This will unleash American ingenuity like never before. Efficiencies we have never thought of will be created and even school children will help families in monitoring and controlling household energy (CO2) use. Just as kids did when they could make money at collecting and recycling cans and bottles. Flexible work schedules could become a reality if workers can make money by not needlessly commuting to work to sit behind the same type of computer they have at home.

Now the environmental community, Democrats and liberals opposed President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative (CSI), which was a cap-and-trade program for SO2, NOx and a voluntary CO2 'intensity' regime. When the Bush administration and Senate Republicans, including then Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe, could not get the cap-and-trade program passed out of committee, they did the same thing the Obama administration is doing now, they promulgated regulations at EPA (which as expected were overturned by the courts). The Center was the only environmental organization that supported the CSI because we know cap-and-trade works, regardless of which political party is pushing it.

Now industry, Republicans and the Right are opposing President Obama's cap-and-trade proposals in Congress and at EPA. And Senator James Inhofe is leading the charge. Ironically, President Obama voted against SCI when he served on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Is this starting to make sense to you yet?

So the Center rejects the partisan silliness when it comes to cap-and-trade. Congress needs to get serious about this most important of environmental issues and pass cap-and-trade legislation as soon as possible. Absent that, we are left with a flawed path in promulgating EPA cap-and-trade regulations, which, just as was the case during the Bush administration, will be overturned in the courts. Unfortunately, without action now, our climate and weather will continue to threaten us as we imbalance the gases in our roughly 90 mile high atmosphere. (image:

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