Claude Cartaginese

The Huge Mistake

Posted on November 11 2009 3:00 am
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While the Senate is working on its version of the Cap and Trade Bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last June, new criticism of Cap and Trade has emerged from a rather unlikely source: two lawyers for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Laurie Williams and Allen Zabel, the two EPA attorneys, have produced a YouTube video comparing passage of the Cap and Trade Bill to: “the ill-fated launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger.”

Allen Zabel: The push to launch this climate bill reminds us of the ill-fated launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The people responsible for the launch refused to listen to the rocket designers with the experience to know the shuttle was fatally flawed. This failure to listen resulted in tragedy.

Naturally, the EPA is not thrilled with the idea of two of its attorneys speaking out against Cap and Trade. From Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman comes the following:

The Environmental Protection Agency is being accused of trying to silence two EPA attorneys who have publicly criticized a key component of the climate change legislation being considered by Congress. The EPA attorneys, Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, have warned that a cap and trade plan will not accomplish its goals and will not effectively curb global warming. The couple posted a video on YouTube outlining their concerns and published an op-ed in the Washington Post. The EPA has since ordered them to remove or edit the video and to get approval for any future “outside writing projects.” In the video, Laurie Williams describes cap and trade as a big mistake.

Laurie Williams: Cap and trade will not create confidence that clean energy will become profitable, and so it will not ignite the huge shift in investment needed to begin the clean energy revolution. Cap and trade for climate change has been tried in Europe. It produced harmful volatility in energy prices and few greenhouse gas reductions. It raised energy prices for consumers and made billions in windfall profits for utilities.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cap and Trade, the concept is actually quite simple. Companies could ‘offset’ their own carbon emissions by buying or selling “emission credits” among themselves. Williams and Zabel argue that the offsets are unquantifiable and trading the credits will accomplish nothing. In fact, their conclusion leads them to refer to offsets as “The Big Rip-Off.”

As evidence of this, the attorneys point to Europe’s cap and trade program, already in use, which has drastically raised energy costs and has had no effect on greenhouse gas emissions. Europe’s emissions, in fact, have exceeded the caps put in place.

There will, however, be one person keeping his fingers crossed, hoping for the passage of Cap and Trade: Al Gore.

The former Vice President is a big proponent of carbon offsets, and he has himself purchased many of them to offset his own rather sizable carbon footprint.  Fortunately, he is able to purchase them through a company on which he serves as chair: Generation Investment Management.

Al Gore will, quite possibly, become the first “carbon multi-millionaire” with the passage of Cap and Trade, thus making him (to paraphrase Williams and Zabel): “The Big Rip-Off Artist.”

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