‘We have decided we’re going to regulate the commons, which is the sky, or the air’

Despite giveaways designed to win votes from coal-mining states and others likely to be heavily stomped, “Many environmental groups” still support the 940-page greenhouse gas permitting bill that was endorsed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 21, because “it still creates a ‘cap-and-trade’ system,” The Washington Post reported May 26.

“This requires polluters to amass credits equal to their emissions and then allows them — and others, including Wall Street trading firms — to sell them on an open market if they cut their emissions, giving them a surplus of credits.”

Notice how the businesses that will be taxed and otherwise oppressed by this money-grab are now characterized: “Polluters.”

The bill concerns itself not primarily with soot or toxic fumes like sulfur dioxide. Rather, it aims to impose new costs — costs that will passed along to consumers in their electric bills and at the gas pump — on the emission of carbon dioxide, supposedly contributing to “global warming.”

The Washington Post has just embraced a definition that defines the ocean, and every living animal that breathes, as “a “polluter.”

Pour yourself a beer, or a Coca-Cola. See those little bubbles rising to the surface? Carbon dioxide. You’re now “a polluter.”

“We have decided we’re going to regulate the commons, which is the sky, or the air,” chirps Liz Martin Perera, of the far-left Union of Concerned Scientists.

And this is the best way, she says: “It is able to harness the power of the market, to find the cheapest reductions first. If it’s going to be cheaper for me to reduce (emissions) than you, then I’m just going to go ahead and reduce and sell you my permit.”

Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s “a market,” like when you go to the old drive-in theater grounds on the weekend and haggle with the merchants there.

Except that in this case, no one gets to walk away without buying, and the price is set by the government, making this “market” more like the one in which prison inmates get to choose what to eat for supper.

There are still a few “potential problems,” with the bill, The Post admits. For one thing, it “requires the EPA to begin seeing the future.”

The Washington Post really said that.

“It uses carbon offsets to expand the pool of available credits: Instead of buying an allowance to cover their pollution, a factory could buy an offset to negate it. An offset would be a certificate showing that, for example, emissions have been avoided, or taken up by newly planted trees, or captured and pumped underground. But this is the tricky part: how can one be sure an emission was avoided?”

“That’s essentially unobserved, and fundamentally unobservable,” notes Robert Stavins, a professor of business and government at Harvard University. “I mean, who knows what you would have done?”

The European Union imposed a similar system in 2005, but experts say it was gamed. Countries claimed higher emissions than they really had at the beginning, so their mandated “cutbacks” often really weren’t.

Oh, the humanity!

Because the trillion-dollar scheme — which now reminds at least some congressional Republicans of the old saying that the camel is a horse designed by a committee — breaks so much new ground, no one is even sure how much it will cost.

The EPA thinks it will jack up the average family’s combined electric and gasoline bills by $98 and $140 per year. The Heritage Foundation comes up with a slightly higher number: $4,300 per family within a few decades.

“And an even bigger question,” The Post asks: “Even if cap-and-trade works as a bureaucracy, will it work as a climate savior?”

Is anyone else smiling, yet? Three things can now be predicted with certainty about any “cap-and-trade” scheme to emerge from Congress: 1) It will cost a lot more than anyone estimates; 2) It will have countless unintended consequences, many of them bad; and 3) It will have about as much impact on “global climate change” as a bill requiring that 100 virgins per months be thrown into the Kilauea volcano to propitiate the goddess Pele.

Why? Because the atmosphere does not end at Key West, at the Golden Gate, or on the rocky coast of Maine. No law passed in Washington will have the slightest impact on the world’s biggest and fastest growing “polluters” — India and Red China.

Not to worry. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., one of the architects of the current bill, has that all worked out. The current bill will “send a signal” to other countries at an international climate conference in Copenhagen in December, you see.

“If we expect the Chinese and Indians and others to embrace an international system for reducing these gases, we must be the leader,” Rep. Markey says. With the new bill, he said, “we will no longer be preaching temperance from a barstool.”

Instead, we will be the alcoholic passed out on the barroom floor, hoping that by ruining our own economy to no purpose, we will encourage others to follow our example.

AFP reported last Nov. 19 that Poland rejected a “bribe” to get it to sign off on new carbon restrictions by temporarily exempting its coal-fired power plants from having to purchase carbon emissions credits. Bloomberg reported on Nov. 14 that Germany is asking for exemptions for its energy-intensive industrial sectors, that Italy says “It’s obvious that goals are impossible,” and that France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, says the EU parliament’s proposal to give power generators 10 billion euros to explore carbon capture and storage should be scaled back by two-thirds.

Canada, meantime — facing the biggest “emissions overshoot” — says it won’t meet its Kyoto target even by purchasing credits, Bloomberg reports.

Carbon restriction schemes are “dying slow death around the world,” summarizes the Tucson-based Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.

Except on Capitol Hill, where the trillion-dollar boondoggle is still declared to face “smooth sailing.”

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