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Claude Cartaginese

A Surprising Rejection of Cap-and-Trade

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Posted on August 14 2009 4:40 am

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For some time now, Al Gore and other global warming alarmists such as Henry Waxman, President Barack Obama, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been clamoring for cap-and-trade legislation. Such a measure, they declare, will reduce global warming by cutting the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment. The plan is founded on a government-imposed, economy-wide “cap” on the amount of carbon dioxide that companies will be allowed to emit; those companies will then be permitted to buy or sell “emission credits” among themselves.

Cap-and-Trade has already passed the House, and there is a very good chance that the Senate could take it up in September when it returns from its summer recess. If the measure ultimately becomes law, it is destined to do one thing with absolute certainty: it will raise immense revenues for the government and for those special-interest groups and individuals actively supporting its passage. As for its effect on the environment, there will be none. Zero.

That’s right. If implemented, cap-and-trade will have no effect on the environment. Who says so? None other than Thomas Crocker, the man who devised it!

As reported by Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, who cited an interview published in the Wall Street Journal, Crocker offered this assessment of his brainchild:

“I’m skeptical that cap-and-trade is the most effective way to go about regulating carbon.”

Crocker initially thought up cap-and-trade way back in the 1960s, as a university student trying to finish his thesis.  It was a theoretical model designed to address the specific problem of pollution produced by fertilizer plants in Florida. The idea went nowhere until decades later, when Al Gore and others latched onto it and made it the rallying cry of the environmental left.

Not only is Crocker skeptical, he seems to fear the prospect of his plan being put into action. “Once a cap is in place,” he warns, “it is very difficult to adjust.” Quantifying the damage to the environment caused by emissions is fraught with uncertainty, he adds. Without knowing the true costs and effects of those emissions, it is next to impossible to determine the levels at which they should be capped.

Of course, now that the genie is out of the bottle, the Obama administration has switched to damage-control mode in an effort to keep the legislation viable. True to form, they first tried to discredit Crocker, calling his skepticism “a straw man” argument.

Next, White House advisor on the environment Joseph Aldy said that whatever weaknesses there were in Crocker’s original thesis, the legislation waiting for the Senate’s return will be an improvement, because, as Aldy put it, a “market-based cap is being designed with built-in flexibility.”

Aldy is trying to dupe us with the notion that even though Crocker’s version of cap-and-trade would not have worked, the government’s version will!

Now, there’s a notion that stretches credulity.

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