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EPA Attorneys Argue Against Cap and Trade

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posted on Nov, 7 2009 @ 03:04 AM
In a counter to many AGW proponents, EPA attorneys Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel testified that in contrast to the "Acid Rain" program directed at high-sulfur fuels, a program focused on CO2 reduction will not be effective, and may have negative economic consequences.

Cap-and-trade means a declining "cap" on total emissions, while allowing trading of pollution permits. Confidence in the certainty of declining caps is based on the mistaken assumption that cap-and trade was proven in the EPA's acid rain program. In fact, addressing acid rain required relatively minor modifications to coal-fired power plants. Reductions were accomplished primarily by a fuel switch to readily available, affordable, low-sulfur coal, along with some additional scrubbing. In contrast, the issues presented by climate change cannot be solved by tweaks to facilities; it requires an energy revolution through investments in building clean-energy facilities.

While advocating for "greener" energy production, the EPA representatives make it clear (as do most economists) that C&T will be ineffective for CO2 reduction.

The biggest obstacle to this revolution is that uncontrolled fossil fuel energy remains much cheaper than clean energy. Cap-and-trade alone will not create confidence that clean energy will become profitable within a known time frame and so will not ignite the huge shift in investment needed to begin the clean-energy revolution. In recent interviews, even the economists who thought up cap-and-trade have said they don't believe it's an appropriate tool for climate change.

What guarantees failure of the proposed climate bills, however, are their provisions for carbon offsets, a concept not used in the acid rain program. Both bills allow all required greenhouse-gas reductions for almost 20 years to be met with carbon offsets rather than actual reductions in use of the capped sources. Offsets -- considered indispensable to keeping cap-and-trade affordable -- are supposed to be "additional" reductions beyond what is legally required. But experience with offsets in Europe and California has shown that ensuring real "additionality" is not an achievable goal.

These witnesses make it clear that the net effects of either the House or Senate bills will NOT be a reduction on emissions, but the creation of a profit-making industry of "traders" in offsets, with no real reduction and a lost opportunity to focus on a cleaner environment.

Zabel and Williams have posted a discussion paper and video online:


[edit on 7-11-2009 by jdub297]

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