Friday, May 21, 2010

American Power Act-Wacky Marxist With A New Name

VALVO: Cap-and-trade magic show
Carbon offset plan puts a new face on an old illusion

It's possible Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lieberman can pull a rabbit out of a hat on this one, but I doubt it.

The trick with any global warming bill is to convince enough people that everything will change but nothing will hurt. You need enough details to appease environmentalists, while using enough sleight of hand so that no one else can tell what you're doing. This is why politicians have abandoned a straight carbon tax - it's too obvious. It's no surprise that Congress hasn't passed a global warming bill - this is a pretty hard trick to pull off.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, (he served in Viet Nam) and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent, have unveiled their latest effort, the American Power Act, which tries to put a new face on an old illusion. Instead of using the same, tired, global warming rhetoric the American people have soundly rejected, the Kerry-Lieberman bill is supposedly about national security or energy independence. However, the core of bill is the same cap-and-trade proposal that would drive up energy costs, cripple domestic industries and cost American jobs - with one key difference.

Kerry-Lieberman changes the landscape by using a sector-based approach. The bill targets any source with more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, which the authors estimate would affect 7,500 sources. These sources are then divided into three sectors: power plants, manufacturers and transportation. This is cap and trade via divide and conquer. By establishing separate programs for these major sectors, Kerry-Lieberman attempts to use giveaways to buy off enough opposition in each sector to pass the bill.

However, Kerry-Lieberman is more similar to Waxman-Markey than it is different. Both bills threaten green tariffs on countries that don't self-inflict austerity measures. They both include massive subsidies for politically favored energy sources and use welfare-style energy rebates to buy off consumer outrage.

Both bills also fail to put caps on either agriculture or forestry. The reasons are twofold. Simply put, farm state lawmakers would never support a bill that attacks agricultural emissions. This played out in the Waxman-Markey process when House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, Minnesota Democrat, successfully obtained absolution for farmers in exchange for his caucus' votes.

Second, cap-and-trade bills need to sell offsets as a supplemental way for covered sources to get under the cap. Both bills allow 2 billion tons in offsets per year. Land use, soil treatment and trees are the easiest ways to generate offsets. If agriculture and forestry were forced to account for their own emissions, they would simply consume all of their own offsets and would have nothing left to sell back to other regulated sources. Carbon offsets are the farm subsidies of the 21st century, which is sure to please hesitant farm state senators.

It's no wonder trust in government is at an all-time low. Citizens have seen this game before and they know what cap and trade means for them. It would be refreshing for a politician to embrace the true costs of the bill and not pretend central energy planning comes without significant pain.

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