Common Sense Conservatism: Cap and Trade

The future of our planet is at stake! That’s what you’ll hear from proponents of cap and trade legislation. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cap and Trade, let me explain what it is and what it is designed to accomplish.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Cap and trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply.” That sounds a little vague. Over at Wikipedia, they explain it a bit better: “Emissions trading (also known as cap and trade) is a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.” Not bad, although it sounds voluntarily. Here are the facts from a pretty fair article over at Now Public:

  • Cap and trade legislation “aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020.”
  • Cap and trade legislation would “cap” or limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industrial industries.
  • If companies go above their limit, they have to buy pollution permits.
  • If companies stay under their limit, they can sell their additional permits to companies that need them.

The idea of limiting carbon emissions with a system of rewards and penalties sounds like a great way to help keep our planet clean and ensure companies make our environment a priority. The bill passed the Democrat-super-majority-controlled House of Representatives 219-211 (Democrats control 255 votes, and only need 218 to pass a bill). The bill has yet to pass the Senate.

Many conservatives and Republicans are against this bill. In traditional fashion, these “anti-climate,” “anti-environment” conservatives are being painted as “hating green jobs” by proponents of Cap and trade legislation. So do conservatives hate the environment? Or are there other reasons why they’re against Cap and Trade?

First, opponents of Cap and Trade extend beyond the Republican Party. After all, 44 Democrats voted against the bill and 8 Republicans voted for it. I haven’t seen a news story asking why those 44 Democrats hate the environment, but I’m sure it’s in the works. Like all pieces of legislation, there are both good and bad components. When evaluating whether a bill should be passed, we should take a look at how good and how bad these provisions are. Let’s do just that.

Reducing greenhouse gases 17% by 2020 is a noble goal. What are greenhouse gases? According to the National Climactic Data Center (NCDC) they include water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane among others, in order or importance. According to their website, “the feedback loop in which water is involved is critically important to projecting future climate change, but as yet is still fairly poorly measured and understood.” So we know water vapor is important, we just don’t know how or why.

The site also tells us that carbon dioxide has increased 30% since before the industrial revolution, but that is to be expected. It has risen from 310 parts-per-million (ppm) to 370 ppm since 1955, hardly a giant leap. However, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends an exposure limit of 5,000 ppm. If the current rate of increase continues (roughly 1 ppm per year), we will reach unsafe limits in the year 6640.

Methane, which we’re told is the most dangerous by-product of the cattle industry and our dependence on beef, has not increased significantly in our atmosphere since 1990. According to the NCDC, “there is no scientific consensus on why methane has not risen much since around 1990.”

While reducing greenhouse gases is a respectable objective, it hardly seems as though we are in the throes of an environmental catastrophe.

Limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industrial industries also sounds practical. However, no one will argue that reducing the output of every carbon emitter in the country by 17% will result in problems. To address this problem, pollution permits have been created. Companies that must go over their allotted emissions can purchase these carbon credits from companies that have extra. The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is one greenhouse gas emission registry which will trade these carbon credits between companies, no doubt for a tidy profit, as the European Climate Exchange (ECX) is already doing. Companies like Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management will seek to make money from the exchange of these credits, by charging fees to their clients. This amounts to nothing more than penalties for going over the cap; penalties that will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers.

In 1975 we learned of impending doom in the form of Global Cooling. The last 15 years has been dominated by talk of Global Warming. In the end, there is so much inconsistency among scientists, including evidence of scientists falsifying information to prove warming trends. If there’s no real emergency, why is Congress trying to pass a bill that the Obama Administration admits could cost families almost $1,800/year?

While conservatives are being vilified for opposing Cap and trade legislation, Americans should take the time to learn about exactly how this bill will affect them. Our nation is $13.4 Trillion in debt, unemployment remains near 10%, and Congress continues to spend money on bill after bill. Would passing Cap & trade help us solve these problems, or would it simply create more?

Imagine a nation where our industries are restricted by arbitrary limits on emissions, and penalized for not complying with potentially unrealistic goals for reduction. This will happen while China and India, the world’s top polluters, would have no such restrictions! How does this help America? If the playing field was level, and America was not forced to operate at a huge disadvantage, this bill would be worth taking a second look at. Until that happens, how can we honestly support Cap and Trade?

Rahm Emanuel is known for having said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” It is with that philosophy that President Obama, and his Democrat-controlled Congress, is using our current economic crisis to pass trillions in new spending. These policies will have long-term effects on our country and taxpayers, and it’s time to start analyzing whether we need this spending now giving our economic challenges.

Al Gore, the most prevalent advocate of Cap and Trade and other global warming legislation, doesn’t even follow his own advice. He routinely travels via private jet, keeps his motorcade’s engines running, and lives in a mansion, four-times the size of the average American’s home – resulting in energy consumption 12-times higher than the average American family according to Associated Press. He even plagiarized a clip from the disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow” in his environmental epic “Inconvenient Truth” to advance his views.

Conservatives don’t hate the environment, but they do hate government expending by trillions of dollars, if taxpayers are on the hook for something we don’t need. Saving our planet shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but has been made one by environmentalists hell-bent on using government to achieve their goals. These liberals blame conservatives for fear-mongering, while they scare Americans into supporting bills like Cap and Trade with Global Warming doom and gloom scenarios. It’s hypocrisy, and should be treated as such.

“The Party of No” continues to be vilified by the Left, but they never take the time to explain why “yes” is the right answer. Today, being “The Party of Yes” means supporting:

  • Government-imposed penalties for emitting pollution, costing us money and jobs.
  • A complete government takeover of the health care industry via the public option, which Democrats are still trying to pass.
  • Limitless bailouts for everything and everyone, regardless of how much debt we accrue.
  • The immediate end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell without allowing the military to weigh in and assess the impact on our military readiness during wartime.
  • A mandatory reduction in salt at restaurants.
  • Taxes on soda and candy.
  • Removing toys from Happy Meals at McDonalds.
  • Mandating equal time for conservatives and liberals on the radio.

If saying “No” to this stuff means conservatives are the bad guys, so be it!

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