Big Green Fury & Bile Belies Big Green Fabrications

by Chris Horner on September 17, 2009

in Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Politics as Usual, Zeitgeist

The greens have responded with, so far as my experience has it, unprecedented fury and bile to my FOIA request exposing the Department of the Treasury’s internal discussion of how the administration, like the rest of us, expect cap-and-trade to chase away manufacturing jobs particularly in key industries like steel, chemical and cement, and lard the full equivalent of the entirety of environmental regulation on what’s left of the economy (while shaving a full 1% off of GDP).

What has most riled them, indicating that it is what most frightens them, is the internal assessment that the administration expects to raise between $100-200 billion per year from the taxpayer in revenues from selling CO2 ration coupons. Oddly, that’s up to three times how much the administration asserted to the public in February it expected to raise from 100% auctioning, which they said they still expect it to raise,  as of three weeks ago (p. 33), well after the March memo citing the $100-200 billion was written. So much for having abandoned their position of auctioning, which it turns out is still the administration position.

In response the greens have tossed out any number of distractions, like claiming that we are ignoring “CBO data” (sic); by which they mean a remarkably cherry-picked CBO estimate of the cost in the cheapest year of the Waxman-Markey bill, a bill not referenced in Treasury’s outed expectation. That’s a distraction but it’s not data, although with so little on their side I understand their need to fudge.

Let me say this as plainly as I can, at risk of House censure: With the help of a remarkably incurious media, Big Green’s claims about what we revealed include not just stretchers but brazen, outright fabrications.

Consider Politico, and how the greens talked the same reporter who they talked into saying that Al Gore signed Kyoto into repeating, with the accuracy we are coming to expect, their new mantra that auctioning the ration coupons is “a long-ago-scrapped proposal made by the Obama administration.”
Ahem. Not “long-ago-scrapped”. The accurate phrase is “House-passed.”

No one who has read Waxman-Markey – a universe I know better than to expect includes reporters “reporting” on it – can honestly claim to believe that the bill scrapped auctioning, if not 100%, then the vast majority of these “allowances”. It mandates it.

It’s right there plain as can be in the 1,400 page bill, Title VII, Subtitle B, Sections 701 through 729 and Subtitle B, Part H! It ends up selling three-fourths of the things (with the rest politically allocated to groups not required to have them and with no use for them other than to sell ‘em to less politically favored saps who do). How can they miss that?

What this tells us is the folly of claiming that the House bill makes Treasury’s assumption of auctioning many or most allowances irrelevant. The allowances that bill does still give away in a few years are given away to entities for resale, not to the productive sector covered by the requirement that they have the things. That means that for all intents and purposes by giving none away to the people and businesses required to have them, Waxman-Markey is de facto auctioning 100%. For anyone familiar with the scheme to say that auctioning is “long-ago-scrapped” is a fabrication intended to deceive.

In the same newspaper we see a lie wrapped in an even bigger whopper intended to distract, in the form of a claim that Treasury’s internal assessment is irrelevant. For example, Politico’s Ben Smith quoted the League of Conservation Voters stammering incoherently:

“Specifically, the original White House plan had 100% of emissions permits being distributed by auction; the plan that passed has just 15%.  ‘Can you say “irrelevant analysis”? It would be like pricing the health care bills currently in front of Congress based on a single-payer system,’ [LCV spokesman] writes.”

But as we see, his implication that the House bill only requires auctioning of 15% is flagrantly untrue.

What an actual journalist might do is note how the teaser “only of 15% auctioned!”, which explodes to 100%, gives meaning to Friends of the Earth’s description of the scheme as “subprime carbon”.
But that wouldn’t help the agenda’s chances now, would it?

Now, what about the claim that giving away the ration coupons changes the cost, the cost being what the greens are up in arms over?

Not a bit. At least, if you believe Obama’s economic team. As you see below, even OMB director Peter Orszag-led CBO recently noted the taxpayer pays either way, it’s just that they give corporate buddies much of the loot for a while as part of the deal. It isn’t even disputed in relevant quarters that it doesn’t matter who gets the money — 85% to special interests and 15% to the government or 100% to the government — it still comes out the taxpayer’s pocket.

“Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away.”

The supposedly controlling Waxman-Markey effort merely gave most of these allowances away for a few years to the GEs and Duke Energys and Chicago’s Exelon, for example, for a few years to buy political support.

One might think that the fact that Waxman-Markey still will ding the taxpayer but for billions to be handed over, at least for the introductory decade, to rent-seeking industry that spent so much on making the scheme happen. That’s not an issue they should want to emphasize, on its face, but that’s the trouble with lying in the first place. It’s out there.

Glenn Beck is addressing this issue this afternoon, as he has already indicated on his radio program earlier, including by kindly including me. I get a sense that his picking up on the scent is the thing that’s most unnerving the greens at the moment. Can anyone say “Van Jones”?

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