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The End of Cap-and-Trade

smith2 The New York Times sounds the death knell on cap-and-trade as a method for regulating carbon emissions:

Mr. Obama dropped all mention of cap and trade from his current budget. And the sponsors of a Senate climate bill likely to be introduced in April, now that Congress is moving past health care, dare not speak its name.

“I don’t know what ‘cap and trade’ means,” Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said last fall in introducing his original climate change plan.

We’ve never had much of a brief on cap-and-trade. It’s one method to do something that should be done, but we’re neutral on what Congress (or the EPA) might eventually settle on to bring about a transition to a carbon free future. Heck, industry has already made some moves on its own, doubtless understanding that government will settle on something and trying to get ahead of the curve.

But cap-and-trade – eh!


That doesn’t mean that it died what one might call a honorable death – it simply means that one side characterized it better than another side.

“We turned it into ‘cap and tax,’ and we turned that into an epithet,” said Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market research organization supported by conservative individuals and corporations. “We also did a good job of showing that a bunch of big companies — Goldman Sachs, the oil companies, the big utilities — would get windfall profits because they’d been given free ration coupons.”

That’s a lot of supposition there – and since oil companies support CEI, you might wonder a bit why it wouldn’t be interested in windfall profits for them. But that’s not the point – the point is that CEI (and others, too, of course) did a good job defining cap-and-trade in the most negative possible terms.


Here’s CEI President Fred Smith (in 2006) on global warming:

Most of the indications right now are it looks pretty good. Warmer winters, warmer nights, no effects during the day because of clouding, sounds to me like we’re moving to a more benign planet, more rain, richer, easier productivity to agriculture … We’re basically to a world now that’s a lot closer to heaven than hell.

So you can scarcely blame CEI for wanting to squelch climate change legislation if only for those warmer winter nights. CEI supports nuclear energy at least in passing, but its attention is mostly elsewhere. Sourcewatch includes some interesting information about CEI.


So, onward.

Two senators, Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, have proposed an alternative that they call cap and dividend, under which licenses to pollute would be auctioned to producers and wholesalers of fossil fuels, with three-quarters of the revenue returned to consumers in monthly checks to cover their higher energy costs.

Let’s see how this goes. We suspect that CEI’s work on cap-and-trade may well lead to some interesting ideas, such as this one, but the bottom line seems to be: carbon emissions will almost certainly be regulated because they must be reduced. That hasn’t changed significantly.

CEI President Fred Smith.


DocForesight said…

Call me naive, but I am bewildered by Nuke Notes' approach towards the cap-and-trade (tax/dividend) issue and global warming via CO2. Your reference to Sourcewatch for its research on CEI is also odd, to me. Is the Clean Air Trust an unbiased, scientific group?

Considering the significant errors surrounding the UN IPCC and AR4, NASA GISS and other organizations or scientists that advanced the alarmism around CO2 and climate, is it wise to raise the issue of climate change - and all its spin-offs: sea level rise, glacier melt, hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones (Oh, my!) at all?

I appreciate the timely updates and links provided by NEI NN, but am baffled by some of the, seemingly, slavish reportage on climate. More nukes will solve the energy and CO2 issue, either way.
Brian Mays said…
Sourcewatch? You must be kidding!

Geez, Mark, have you ever read the "interesting information" that Sourcewatch has on the NEI? (Hint: It's about four times a long as their article on the CEI.)

Mark, I suggest you go easy on citing left-wing wacko propaganda sites that are funded by many of the same foundations that fund all of the various anti-nuclear organizations out there. You might inadvertently lend these clowns some credibility.
crf said…
" Considering the significant errors surrounding the UN IPCC and AR4, NASA GISS and other organizations or scientists that advanced the alarmism around CO2 and climateis it wise to raise the issue of climate change "

That is just argument by assertion. The scientific understanding of climate change was strong and is getting stronger. It is only in the editorial-page and blog-driven echo chamber that climate change is pretended to be flasified on scientific bases. Those arguments rarely make the scientific literature, because they are weak. (Not because of conspiracy.)

It would be terrible if reality, as understood by science, were pushed aside when making policy.
Sterling Archer said…
It would be terrible if reality, as understood by science, were pushed aside when making policy.

Welcome to Earth. You're not going to enjoy your visit here.
David Lewis said…
I wonder at people who support nuclear power who think climate change is a bogus issue.

If you wonder, as an American, what the state of climate science is, if there is anything to all the heated claims that the science has been discredited, you need look no further than what the President of the National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone, says. "Our understanding is undiminished".

In case you are the type of moron who has no idea what the NAS is, consider this, from the NAS website:

"The Academy membership is composed of approximately 2,100 members and 380 foreign associates, of whom nearly 200 have won Nobel Prizes. Members and foreign associates of the Academy are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a scientist or engineer."

If there was the slightest problem with climate science, never mind a world wide hoax or an entire discipline of science gone bad or whatever these climate deniers want everyone to believe, the President of the NAS would be aware.

The leaders of all equivalent institutions in the developed and developing world have signed a formal appeal to the political leaders of all nations to move to a low carbon society as soon as possible. Look it up. Its only two pages long. Make sure you look at the signatures.

If the science behind this is so shaky, or a hoax, how would you explain the signatures? What do the top scientists in China have to gain from supporting this? How did they get to the top people in Germany and Japan?

People who are pronuclear who pretend they see some problem with climate science have no respect for science at all. How could pro nuclear types expect anyone to believe any of their arguments about the safety and reliability of nuclear power as they demonstrate their own ignorance of how science works and what science is?
Brian Mays said…
"I wonder at people who support nuclear power who think climate change is a bogus issue."

Perhaps they're irreligious or are suffering from a crisis of faith.
Most of the folks who don't believe in climate change also don't believe that the universe is more than 10,000 old. So their opinions really shouldn't be taken seriously.

The best way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution is to simply Federally mandate that a continuously growing percentage of electric power in the US be produced by carbon neutral sources (nuclear, renewable, etc.). Those utilities that fail to reach the Federally mandated percentages will have a carbon tax placed on all of their CO2 and methane gas pollution.

Its that simple, IMO.
Brian Mays said…
"Most of the folks who don't believe in climate change also don't believe that the universe is more than 10,000 old. So their opinions really shouldn't be taken seriously."

Do they beat their wives and cheat on their taxes too?

Why hold back? You might as well get your money's worth out of such a "convincing" argument.
D Kosloff said…
Do you have any evidence that supports your assertion?

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