Cap and Trade: The Big Con

Masquerading as an instrument of environmental salvation, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill will result in one of the largest seizures of wealth in human history. The legislation will wreak havoc on American manufacturing and industry, and coerce the conformity of an already economically squeezed populace.  The bill is a transparent power grab, based on a fictional crisis-the left's ever-dependable threat of global warming.

But global warming is finally coming under the scrutiny it deserves.  Not only are NASA satellites showing a cooling trend, but 700 scientists-to the UN's 50-have come out in opposition to the patently false claims of the global warming lobby.

Most damning, Harvard meteorologists have been unable to replicate the findings of the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) without the use of a technique called "data-padding."[1]  The IPCC actually admitted to engaging in this deceptive practice.  Without this padding, the infamous warming trend falls by several degrees.  In essence, the IPCC and its primary source manipulated data (dare we say "lied"?) to produce a desired result.

If global warming is a scientific hoax, a fact that now seems incontrovertible, then why have President Obama and Congress advanced such drastic and costly legislation to address this nonexistent crisis?  One might conclude that HR 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act, exists for no other purpose than to destroy the American economy as we know it and bring it all under government control.

It's not like we don't know any better.  We've been through something like this before, narrowly escaping the Kyoto Protocol's threats to US security.  In its non-partisan report to study the implications of implementing Kyoto, the US Environmental Information Agency predicted a loss of between $100-400 billion in US GDP and skyrocketing energy prices. Moreover, the Kyoto Treaty's effect on our national security due to reductions in military training and operational tempo would have been staggering.

But Kyoto will seem like a walk in the park compared to the Obama plan, which will result in cumulative losses in GDP of an astounding $9.4 trillion.  To put this in perspective, that's over half current US GDP.  In other words, half our economy.  By 2035, unemployment losses will average 1.1 million peaking at 2.4 million some years.  Families will see energy prices rise $1,200 per year.  Electricity prices will rise 90 percent.  Gasoline will be up 58 percent.

The new policy would establish a carbon-ceiling and levy a devastating "carbon tax" on businesses.  Any emissions over and above the established ceiling would require businesses of all types to trade a finite number of government emission allowances.  Obama describes his program thus:

What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.  I was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

Ultimately, the costs to business in the form of emissions-purchases will be passed on to the consumer.  Obama knows this, and has said, "If you say to a power plant, you have to produce energy in a different way, and that costs them money, then they want to pass that cost on to consumers, which means everybody's electricity prices go up -- and that is something that is not very popular."  This from an individual who thinks energy prices can be controlled through better inflation of tires.

Costs will also translate into across-the-board layoffs, as more and more money will have to be devoted to purchases of emissions permits.  This is because the Obama policy gradually decreases the allowable emissions annually ("ratcheting down"), in effect dictating allowable production for the year, which will have a residual impact on employment.  But don't worry-"green jobs" will supposedly replace the energy sector as a source of employment.

Cap-and-trade also achieves the age-old Marxist goal of wealth redistribution through the back door.  It does this by creating two classes: those with carbon permits, and those without.  Companies like GE, which has positioned itself to take advantage of a cap-and-trade system, bidding for billions of dollars in federal contracts, will dominate the new America.  On a side note, evidence has surfaced that GE misused its ownership of NBC to catapult Obama into the Presidency for financial gain.  Is it any coincidence that GE execs went to CNBC headquarters to silence criticism of the President's economic policies?  What's good for Obama is good for GE.  Is what's good for GE still good for America?

Cap-and-trade amounts to an artificial constriction of an abundant resource.  Refineries are especially targeted by this bill, which is significant because it was the sweeping reduction in refinery capacity due to onerous environmental regulations and voracious legal lobbies that caused the spike in energy prices during 2008.  Further strain on refineries will be another nail in the coffin of US energy independence.  We should view with suspicion any legislation that attempts to artificially recreate the circumstances of the 2008 gas crisis.

Besides, many of the bill's provisions are superfluous, since the Clean Air Act has already put America well on the way to being pollution-free without stealth taxes, mandatory technology shifts, or the apocalyptic deindustrialization of the west.  Power plant nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions fell 28 percent from 1998 to 2003.  Eastern coal-fired energy plants saw a drop of 25 percent over the same period.  Power plant sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions fell 31 percent between 1990 and 2003.  The Bush-inspired Clean Air Act requires emissions to be reduced an additional 53 percent by 2010 and 70 percent by 2020.  If clean air is really the goal of the Obama team, they would be wise to leave well enough alone.      

But cap-and-trade is about economic control, not about fixing the environment.  President Obama will proudly destroy an American industry if it serves his ends, something that has gone unnoticed in present cap-and-trade discussions: 

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

The coal industry employs 80,000 people.  So much for Obama's reputation for "saving" jobs.

If Obama has his way, manufacturing, refining, chemical, coal, steel, metallurgical, and other energy-driven sectors will come increasingly under government control or be completely replaced by imports.  In the wake of this deindustrialization, people will look to government for provision, an expectation which is at the core of all of Obama's economic policies.  Obama has "reluctantly" accepted the breathtaking and unprecedented power of managing our nation's businesses and dictating wages.  Now he wants to control a free nation's energy consumption.

Cap-and-trade is Marxism clothed in environmental righteousness.  If Obama's plan goes forward, America will be doomed to economic ruin.  When the President of the United States is appointing czars with impunity and openly bragging about "bankrupting" the coal industry, it's time to take a step back and evaluate how we got here.  Because of the lightning speed with which Obama is brazenly enacting these destructive policies, he is positioned to do what America's enemies could only dream of doing.

Americans need to wake up.  If Obama and the Democrats in Congress really want clean air, there already exist laws to achieve it.  But there is one thing that HR 2454 does better than any other piece of legislation: it destroys American economic strength for future generations, capping the American Dream, and trading away prosperity for a scientific hoax. Whatever their real agenda, it is not consistent with the economic well-being of the American people.  Let's stop treating bald-faced lies like topics for polite discussion.

[1] Willie H. Soon, David R. Legates, and Sallie L. Baliunas, "Estimation and representation of long-term (>40 year) trends of Northern-Hemisphere-gridded surface temperature: A note of caution," Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 31, 14 February 2004, 2.