Built Upon the Sand

Marita Noon
Issue CCIX - September 30, 2009
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A sample imageNow that summer recess is over for Congress and our elected officials are in DC, cap-and-trade is back in the news. Many people are asking, “Just what is cap-and-trade?” Last week, while I was speaking in Canada, a woman questioned what she had heard. At church a man asked me about it. And my best friend Patti brought it up while we were getting a pedicure. There is vast misunderstanding as to what “cap-and-trade” really means.

Cap-and-trade reminds me of the old song from children’s church, “…The wise man built his house upon the rock…The foolish man built his house upon the sand…the rains came down…the house on the rock stood firm, but the house on the sand fell flat.” Cap-and-trade is like the house built on the sand. It does not have a firm foundation.

First, the cap-and-trade house is built upon a lie. The lie is that climate change is a crisis, that it is caused by man, that man can fix it, and that even if no other countries participate in “capping emissions,” America can still make a difference.
But what if it is not a lie? What if the crisis is as real as the global cooling crisis was perceived to be in the seventies? If that is the case, the crisis can wait a few more years. We’ve been making noise about climate change for 40 years. Now, in the midst of a major economic recession, is not the time to be enacting extreme measures that will finish off the American economy.
If it is a crisis, and CO2 is responsible, a carbon tax is more honest -- people will know where the price increases come from and blame the government. With cap-and-trade, the high costs are initially borne by energy producers and manufacturers, who will pass costs on to consumers. This way anger over price increases will be deflected to the big, bad companies, and government will appear virtuous.
Additionally, cap-and-trade will create a whole new level of bureaucracy -- and we all know how effective layers and layers of bureaucracy are. Those who are able to cut CO2 emissions will get credits. Those who emit will have to buy the credits from those who saved. The credits will be traded like stocks on Wall Street -- hence “trade.”
While cap-and-trade proponents, such as Nancy Pelosi, tout the availability of “green jobs” due to the passage of the Waxman-Markey Bill, this is “happy talk,” as the Economist Magazine called it. Some short-term installation jobs may be created, but the bulk of jobs generated due to the government mandate for wind and solar energy will be overseas. While the turbines turning or the solar panels collecting sunbeams do not produce CO2, like a cost-effective coal-fired power plant, manufacturing them does -- which is why much of the production is done overseas, where the regulations are more conducive to industry. Here are but a few examples of foreign involvement in America’s so-called “green energy:” Mitsubishi’s 90-foot and 100-foot turbine blades are manufactured in Mexico. Nine of the top ten wind turbine manufacturers are NOT in America. Each wind turbine contains 2 tons of rare earth -- provided by China.
This so-called “green energy” is expensive, while the carbon-based energy (oil, natural gas, and coal) is cheap by comparison. Cap-and-trade, the Waxman-Markey Bill, will increase the cost of energy by as much as $1,700 per household -- and the latest news reports indicate that the Obama administration has known this all along. Energy producers will have to raise the prices to consumers. Suddenly “green energy” will have a competitive chance -- but the average household will not be able to afford it. Proponents claim that tax credits for the poor will offset the higher costs. But, where does that leave middle-class families?
To anyone without a clear concept of “cap-and-trade,” the simple way to explain it is that it is like the old Papal indulgences which allowed you to sin, if you paid. In this new world, CO2 is sin. Those who do not sin will be awarded, and the “sinners” will have to pay. The Pope (some government bureaucrat) will be able to determine who gets awards and who has to pay.
This is hardly the energy freedom we’ve become accustomed to in America. Cap-and-trade is much more like energy socialism.

Marita Noon is the executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE), a nonprofit, membership-based organization advocating for citizens rights to energy freedom. She can be reached atmarita@responsiblenergy.org or www.responsiblenergy.org.

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