cap and trade

Alarmists have been decrying the effects of global warming on Greenland for years, even though Greenland was greenest during the Medieval Warm Period, and Greenland’s Vikings, who flourished during that warm period, died out when cold temperatures returned, reducing them to starvation. (It was warmer in the year 1003 than 2003.) Now, the residents of Greenland, the world’s largest island, are once again profiting from global warming, reports the Washington Post:

“Rather than questioning global warming, many of this island’s 60,000 inhabitants seem to be racing to cash in.  The tiny capital of Nuuk is bracing for record numbers of visitors this year; the retreating sea ice means a longer tourist season and more cruise ships . . . Hunters are boasting of more and bigger caribou, and the annual cod migration is starting earlier and lasting longer. In the far south, farmers are trying their hand at an exotic form of agriculture: growing vegetables. ‘Before, the growing season was too short for vegetables,’ . . .‘Now it is getting longer each year.’”

Since 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency has sought to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (which we breathe out and plants consume) because they supposedly threaten public health in the United States by causing global warming. President Obama has backed a corporate welfare-filled global-warming bill that would increase electricity bills. Obama admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008 that under his “cap and trade” plan to address global warming, ”electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

But even if greenhouse gas emissions are the principal cause of global warming (as opposed to natural causes), it’s not clear why such warming would harm public health in a non-tropical country like America. After all, people in America’s warmer cities have lower mortality rates, and higher life expectancies, than people in its colder cities.

Warmer climates may be particularly helpful for racial minorities in Canada. Most non-white Canadians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, putting them at risk of cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. Lack of exposure to the sun is a big part of the problem. More than 50,000 people die every year in the United States every year as a result of inadequate sun exposure. While milk is Vitamin D enriched, many non-whites are lactose intolerant. Sunlight is the most potent source of Vitamin D. But in northern regions like Canada, sunlight alone does not provide enough Vitamin D for many people who work indoors. There,  the sunlight is too feeble in winter and fall for people’s bodies to turn sunlight into Vitamin D. To get enough Vitamin D from the sun, people have to go outside a lot during spring and summer to offset the weak sunlight in fall and winter. But increasingly sedentary lifestyles and office jobs have reduced outdoor activity. And cold temperatures in spring discourage warmth-loving people from going outside, even when the light is strong enough to produce Vitamin D. Thus, cold climates can be bad for their health.

My colleague Ben Lieberman’s thoughtful op-ed in The Washington Times focuses on voters’ rejection of environmental alarmism about the Gulf oil spill. It appears that voters discounted the exaggerated claims of Gulf devastation and were more concerned instead about the moratorium on offshore drilling and its devastating effect on jobs. With a faltering economy, voters didn’t appreciate the Administration’s job-killing over-reaction.

As Lieberman said:

“For a while, it was fashionable to ridicule those who had chanted “Drill, baby, drill” during the 2008 race. Opponents of domestic drilling thought they had a defining issue heading into the midterms.

“Now the “Drill, baby, drill” crowd is back – and they’ll be returning to Washington with quite a few new allies.

“Ironically, it was not the spill itself but Mr. Obama‘s overreaction to it in the form of a job-killing moratorium on offshore drilling that really angered voters in Louisiana and other impacted states. The only reason the Obamatorium didn’t hurt Democratic candidates along the Gulf was that they were just as vocal as Republicans in their opposition to it.”

And he has some words of caution for policymakers who would try to ram through energy-restrictive policies:

So what does all of this tell us about voters? For one thing, it shows that they are getting wise to environmentalist alarmism and exaggeration. Just as the drumbeat of doom-and-gloom predictions about global warming didn’t generate public support for “cap-and-trade,” neither did overblown claims of oil-spill-induced ecological devastation create a backlash against offshore drilling. And given the still-struggling economy and stubbornly high unemployment, the electorate is not going to accept costly solutions to overstated threats.

A global food crisis is “forecast as prices reach record highs.”  “Rising food prices and shortages could cause instability in many countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their highest levels in two years.”  “Global wheat and maize prices recently jumped nearly 30% in a few weeks while meat prices are at 20-year highs.” “Meanwhile, the price of tomatoes in Egypt, garlic in China and bread in Pakistan are at near-record levels.”

Drought is one factor in the price spikes.  Biofuels and ethanol subsidies and mandates are another major factor.  According to the UN, “large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors for biofuels is squeezing land suitable for agriculture.”

Ethanol subsidies have resulted in forests being destroyed in the Third World, and caused famines that have killed countless people in the world’s poorest countries.

These subsidies are expanded in the global warming legislation backed by the Obama administration.  Its ethanol subsidies will result in “damage to water supplies, soil health and air quality.”  The Washington Examiner earlier explained how the global warming bill backed by President Obama would cause deforestation by expanding ethanol subsidies, and thus increase greenhouse gas emissions in the long run.   It was larded up with corporate welfare: 85 percent of its carbon allowances were given away to special interests free of charge, thanks to lobbying that turned the bill into an orgy of corporate welfare.

Earlier, Ron Bailey wrote in Reason magazine about the “global food crisis” that has resulted in food riots across the world, in countries like Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia, Yemen, Haiti, and Egypt.   The crisis, he notes, is caused by “stupid energy policies” in the form of ethanol “mandates” and subsidies, which result in the world’s breadbaskets producing less food and more ethanol.

In 2008, two prominent environmentalists, Lester Pearson and Jonathan Lewis, published a Washington Post editorial, “Ethanol’s Failed Promise,” which explained how ethanol subsidies and mandates are destroying the environment and fueling hunger and violence worldwide.

Turning one-fourth of our corn into fuel is affecting global food prices. U.S. food prices are rising at twice the rate of inflation, hitting the pocketbooks of lower-income Americans and people living on fixed incomes. … Deadly food riots have broken out in dozens of nations in the past few months, most recently in Haiti and Egypt. World Bank President Robert Zoellick warns of a global food emergency.

Moreover, they noted,

food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy — most of which comes from coal. Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.  Third, food-to-fuel mandates are helping drive up the price of agricultural staples, leading to significant changes in land use with major environmental harm. Here in the United States, farmers are pulling land out of the federal conservation program, threatening fragile habitats. … Most troubling, though, is that the higher food prices caused in large part by food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. As Time Magazine reported this month, huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world’s largest ‘carbon sink.’ And when the forests are cleared and the land plowed for farming, the carbon that had been sequestered in the plants and soil is released. Princeton scholar Tim Searchinger has modeled this impact and reports in Science magazine that the net impact of the food-to-fuel push will be an increase in global carbon emissions — and thus a catalyst for climate change.

In Human Events, Deroy Murdock explained how rising food prices resulting from ethanol forced Haitians to literally eat dirt (dirt cookies made of vegetable oil, salt, and dirt), caused tortilla riots in Mexico, and fueled violent protests in unstable “powder kegs” like Pakistan and Egypt.

In 2008, finance ministers and central bankers called for end to ethanol subsidies and biofuel mandates. South African finance minister Trevor Manuel called such subsidies “criminal.” Earlier, the Indian Finance Minister Chidambaram noted that “in a world where there is hunger and poverty, there is no policy justification for diverting food crops towards bio-fuels. Converting food into fuel is neither good policy for the poor nor for the environment.”

The EPA is now ratcheting up ethanol use, heedless of the fact that ethanol makes gasoline costlier and dirtier, increases ozone pollution, and increases the death toll from smog and air pollution.  Ethanol production also results in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution.

Unemployment went back up to 9.6%, as the nation shed 54,000 jobs in August.  Yet Obama calls this “Recovery Summer.”  This is the same Obama who complained about the economic recovery in 2004 being jobless because unemployment was at 6 percent.  If you include discouraged workers, unemployment may be as high as 17 percent.

Earlier, governors warned that ObamaCare will increase unemployment.  Indiana’s governor said it will wipe out thousands of jobs in his state by raising taxes on medical device manufacturers.  It will also kill jobs by imposing huge record-keeping burdens on small businesses, requiring them to file IRS forms over even small purchases.

Employers are afraid to hire new employees because of looming new burdens, such as the global-warming regulations being drafted by the EPA, which could wipe out at least 800,000 jobs in the short run, and far more in the long run.  They also worry about costly new Congressional mandates, such as global-warming legislation backed by liberal Senators, which would provide corporate welfare for some businesses, but impose heavy burdens on many others.  Capping greenhouse gas emissions isn’t cheap — Obama himself told the San Francisco Chronicle that under his cap-and-trade plan to fight global warming, Americans’ electricity bills would “skyrocket,” and coal power plants that now provide much of the nation’s energy would go “bankrupt.” Although Obama and other backers of this “cap-and-trade” concept claim it will cut greenhouse gas emissions, it may perversely increase them by driving industry overseas to places with fewer environmental regulations, resulting in dirtier air, and damage to forests and water supplies.

The Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly admitted that Obama’s $862 billion stimulus package will shrink the economy “in the long run.”  The stimulus contained welfare and repealed welfare reform.  Unemployment is higher now than if Congress had voted it down.  Countries that refused to adopt big stimulus packages have fared better than those that imitated President Obama.  The biggest-spending countries have suffered worst in the recession. The stimulus package wiped out jobs in America’s export sector, while giving “green jobs” funding to foreign firms.

Betsy Moler of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and Phil Sharp of Resources for the Future would like Republicans to think so. After all, if GOP opposition to cap-and-trade is self-contradictory, then it is unstable, hence reversible.

Few Republicans will be gulled by this line of chatter, but just to make sure, I posted a column debunking the Moler-Sharp argument on MasterResource.Org, the free-market energy blog.  

Republicans like markets (or say they do), and cap-and-trade is “market-based,” according to Moler and Sharp. In fact, cap-and-trade is politics-based. The demand for the traded commodity (the emission allowances) is entirely a creature of the cap, which is itself created not by the market but by politicians.

People posting comments on my column made astute observations, which suggest the following definition. Cap-and-trade: Government creation of a market in a commodity that everyone makes and nobody wants; from which a rent-seeking few gain windfall profits at consumers’ expense; and in which opportunities for corruption and creative accounting abound.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will bring a sweeping energy and climate bill to the floor as early as the week of July 26, including a controversial cap on emissions from power plants,” environmental reporter Darren Samuelsohn writes today in Politico.

Except that Reid — like Sens. John Kerry (D.-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – won’t call a spade a spade.

“I don’t use that,” Reid said, referring to the term cap-and-trade. “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.”

For years, so-called progressive politicians clamored for cap-and-trade — the Kyoto Protocol, the McCain-Lieberman bill, the Lieberman-Warner bill, the Waxman-Markey bill, etc.

No longer. Thanks to the educational efforts of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers Union, American Conservative Union, FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation, National Center for Public Policy Research, and other free-market/limited government organizations, the public came to understand that cap-and-trade is a hidden tax on energy. By the end of 2009, cap-and-”tax” had become a political liability, and this year proponents fear even to speak its name – especially as the November elections approach.

So what’s a poor progressive politician to do? Why, dissemble, obfuscate, and prevaricate to fool the voter. 

The problem with this strategy — beyond the sheer dishonesty of it — is that people aren’t as dim as progressive politicians assume. Most people do not spend their time monitoring Congress, but they don’t need to. Numerous watchdog groups are ready to pounce on every ploy to steal our liberty and prosperity, and in the Age of the Internet, information travels fast.

Reid and company are fooling themselves if they believe rebranding cap-and-trade as “pollution limits” will blunt public opposition to energy taxes.

Columnist Tim Carney notes that BP, responsible for the massive oil spill, is “a close friend of big government whenever it serves the company’s bottom line.” It lobbied for President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package, the “cap-and-trade” global-warming bills backed by Obama, and “the Wall Street bailout” that Obama voted for.  “BP has more Democratic lobbyists than Republicans.”  Obama is the biggest recipient of campaign cash from BP executives.

Obama’s global warming legislation expands ethanol subsidies, which cause famine, starvation, and food riots in poor countries by shrinking the food supply, and also result in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. Subsidies for biofuels like ethanol are a big source of corporate welfare: “BP has lobbied for and profited from subsidies for biofuels . . . that cannot break even without government support.”

The $800 billion stimulus package is using taxpayer subsidies to replace U.S. jobs with foreign green jobs. It is also destroying jobs in America’s export sector.

Obama falsely claimed that the stimulus package was needed to prevent “irreversible decline,” but the Congressional Budget Office admitted that it would actually shrink the economy “in the long run.”  Unemployment has skyrocketed past European levels, as big-spending countries have fared worse than thrifty ones.  As the Examiner notes, “If his stimulus program was approved, Obama promised, unemployment would not go above 8 percent . . . The reality is that it passed 10.3 percent.”  In 2008, Obama promised a “net spending cut,” but as soon as he was elected, he proposed massive spending increases.

Obama’s global warming legislation would also drive jobs overseas, since it would impose a costly cap-and-trade carbon rationing scheme on American industry, while leaving foreign plants operated by multinational corporations unregulated.  That’s one reason why many big companies with plants overseas are lobbying for the global-warming legislation, which would give them an advantage over competitors that make their products largely in America.  The legislation would result in a tax increase for American consumers of up to $200 billion a year or $1,761 per household.

Unlike other oil companies, which have good records of safety and avoiding spills when it comes to oil drilling, BP has a bad record, earning it the label of “serial environmental criminal” from critics.  The Obama administration granted BP a waiver of environmental regulations in April 2009, yet it blocked Louisiana from protecting its coastline against the oil spill by delaying rather than expediting regulatory approval of essential protective measures.  It has also chosen not to use what has been described as “the most effective method” of fighting the spill, a method successfully used in other oil spills.  Democratic strategist James Carville called Obama’s handling of the oil spill “lackadaisical” and “unbelievable” in its “stupidity.”

Obama is now using BP’s oil spill to push the global-warming legislation that BP had lobbied for.

People across the world “are being battered by surging food prices that are dragging more people into poverty, fueling political tensions and forcing some to give up eating meat, fruit and even tomatoes,” reports the Associated Press. High food prices are partly the result of “demand for crops to use in biofuels” like ethanol, which the government subsidizes.

Food prices will rise even further if the global warming legislation backed by President Obama passes, since it expands ethanol subsidies that reward big corporations for turning food into fuel. Ethanol subsidies damage the environment by wiping out forests, polluting water supplies, and eroding the soil. By converting food into fuel, they cause famines and food riots in the world’s poorest countries.  That fuels Islamic extremism in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

President Obama, the biggest recipient of campaign cash from BP, is using BP’s oil spill to push for a global warming bill that is chock full of corporate welfare and environment-destroying ethanol subsidies. The bill was crafted by lobbyists for big companies like BP: “For years, BP has lobbied for climate change legislation, until recently running around with the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.” BP has a much worse safety and environmental record than most oil companies, which drill safely and avoid oil spills.

Democratic strategist James Carville, who was raised in Louisiana, called Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill “lackadaisical” and “unbelievable” in its “stupidity.”

Until recently, the Obama administration ignored the pleas of Louisiana’s governor to allow Louisiana to build barrier islands to contain the damage from the oil spill, citing bureaucratic procedures. Yet the Obama administration granted BP a waiver from environmental regulations in April 2009. ABC News reports that the “top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle was President Barack Obama himself, who collected $71,000.”

The global warming legislation backed by President Obama would drive jobs overseas, since it would impose a costly cap-and-trade carbon rationing scheme on American industry, while leaving foreign plants operated by multinational corporations unregulated. Companies with plants overseas are lobbying for the global warming legislation, which would give them an advantage over American competitors. The legislation Obama backs may perversely increase pollution by driving industry overseas to places with fewer environmental regulations.

Talk about chutzpah.  President Obama, the biggest recipient of campaign cash from BP, is using BP’s oil spill to push for a global warming bill that is chock full of corporate welfare and environment-destroying ethanol subsidies.  And the bill is one crafted by lobbyists for big companies like BP: “For years, BP has lobbied for climate change legislation, until recently running around with the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.”

The Obama Administration has done little about the oil spill, even though “BP’s oil gusher is in federal waters, on seabed leased from the federal government,” giving the government the moral responsibility to do something to stop the spill.  Instead, it is adding insult to injury for suffering Gulf Coast residents by imposing a ban on oil drilling that will wipe out at least 20,000 jobs in the Gulf, and perhaps more, according to Louisiana’s governor.

The ban doesn’t apply just to BP, a company with an unusually bad safety record which has been described as a “serial environmental criminal.”  Instead, it applies to the oil industry generally, including the vast majority of oil companies that make safety a priority in drilling (and whose oil wells did not spill even during hurricanes).

Democratic strategist James Carville, who was raised in Louisiana, called Obama’s handling of the oil spill “lackadaisical“ and “unbelievable“ in its “stupidity.”

Until recently, the Obama administration ignored the pleas of Louisiana’s governor to allow Louisiana to build barrier islands to contain the damage from the oil spill, citing bureaucratic procedures.  Yet the Obama administration granted BP a waiver from environmental regulations in April 2009. ABC News reports that the “top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle was President Barack Obama himself, who collected $71,000.”

The global warming legislation backed by President Obama would also drive jobs overseas, since it would impose a costly cap-and-trade carbon rationing scheme on American industry, while leaving foreign plants operated by multinational corporations unregulated.  Companies with plants overseas are lobbying for the global-warming legislation, which would give them an advantage over American competitors.  The legislation Obama backs may perversely increase pollution by driving industry overseas to places with fewer environmental regulations.

In The Washington Post, Robert Bryce debunks five myths about green energy: it won’t create jobs, won’t help the environment, and won’t make America less dependent on despotic foreign regimes.

The $800 billion stimulus package is using taxpayer subsidies to replace U.S. jobs with foreign green jobs. It is also destroying jobs in America’s export sector.

The global warming legislation backed by President Obama would also drive jobs overseas, since it would impose a costly cap-and-trade carbon rationing scheme on American industry, while leaving foreign plants operated by multinational corporations unregulated.  That’s one reason why many big companies with plants overseas are lobbying for the global-warming legislation, which would give them an advantage over competitors that make their products largely in America.

Although Obama and other backers of this “cap-and-trade” concept claim it will cut greenhouse gas emissions, it may perversely increase them by driving industry overseas to places with fewer environmental regulations, resulting in dirtier air, and damage to forests and water supplies.   It would enrich politically-connected corporations, and result in massive destruction of the world’s forests.   By expanding ethanol subsidies and mandates, it would cause enormous “damage to water supplies, soil health and air quality.” Ethanol subsidies have already resulted in forests being destroyed in the Third World.

The Washington Examiner earlier explained how the global-warming bill backed by Obama will lead to deforestation, and thus increase greenhouse gas emissions in the long run.  Obama’s so-called “cap-and-trade” bill is full of pay-offs for special interests.

Such cap-and-trade energy rationing schemes would lead to big tax increases, administration officials privately have conceded, even though they publicly claim otherwise.  “Officials at the Treasury Department think cap-and-trade legislation would cost taxpayers hundreds of billion in taxes, according to internal documents circulated within the agency and provided to The Washington Times” by CEI.  It could raise household taxes by $1761 per year, equivalent to a 15 percent tax increase.   It would also result in “loss of steel, paper, aluminum, chemical, and cement manufacturing jobs.”

Obama earlier admitted that “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” since its costs would be passed “on to consumers.”

Citizens would be wise not to trust Obama’s utopian claims about mythical green jobs, given that the foreign green jobs programs he seeks to imitate have completely failed.  Obama’s past claims about job-creation have turned out to be false. Obama falsely claimed that the $787 billion stimulus package was needed to prevent “irreversible decline,” but the Congressional Budget Office admitted that it would actually shrink the economy “in the long run”.  Unemployment has skyrocketed past European levels, as big-spending countries have fared worse than thrifty ones.  As the Examiner notes, “If his stimulus program was approved, Obama promised, unemployment would not go above 8 percent . . . The reality is that it passed 10.3 percent.”  In 2008, Obama promised a “net spending cut,” but as soon as he was elected, he proposed massive spending increases.