Myron Ebell

Adding to the irony, the corporate CEOs who support cap-and-trade are fawned over for putting the good of the planet ahead of short-term profits. This is a shameful racket that is all about short-term windfall profits. When testifying before Congress, several CEOs of USCAP member companies said that passing Waxman-Markey was imperative but that they would have to oppose it if they had to buy the ration coupons at auction rather than be given them for free. Al Gore, too, could make hundreds of millions of dollars from his investments in alternative energy companies if Waxman-Markey makes them profitable.

The bill’s proponents talk about protecting consumers while intermittently acknowledging that cap-and-trade can only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by dramatically raising the price of energy derived from coal, oil and natural gas. President Obama said during the campaign last year that "under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." Dr. Peter Orszag, now head of the White House Office and Management and Budget, testified last year when he was head of the Congressional Budget Office that "price increases would be essential to the success of a cap-and-trade program."

When Waxman announced that they had given away 85% of the ration coupons to the various powerful special interests, he added that the purpose was to protect consumers from price increases. If that were true, then consumers would have no reason to reduce their energy consumption, nor would they be forced to use more expensive alternative energy, which would mean that the entire purpose of the bill (the reduction of greenhouse gases) would be rendered moot.

The unacknowledged truth in this charade is that the real reason for giving the ration coupons away is to buy enough political support to pass the bill. Some people are going to become very wealthy from cap-and-trade, but it isn't going to be consumers.

Supporters of Waxman-Markey are now claiming it won't cost anything and have found official support for their claim. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office have estimated that it will cost each of us only pennies to reduce emissions drastically with Waxman-Markey. We can save the planet "for the cost of a postage stamp" a day--or even less.

If that were true, why did Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee defeat Republican amendments to suspend Waxman-Markey if gasoline reached five dollars a gallon or electric rates doubled or unemployment topped fifteen percent?

The debate on the bill is ongoing. Though it has passed the House, it must pass a few more steps before it is forcibly imposed on Americans. Of course, if it's ever enacted, the joke will be on all of us.

Myron Ebell

Myron Ebell is director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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