Cap and Trade: All Cost, No Benefit

The Sunday, August 9, 2009 edition of the Argus Leader ran two stories concerning cap and trade.  With the recent uproar about Obamacare, the president’s goal of implementing cap and trade has been relegated to the back burner, but there is no doubt that we’ll be hearing more about this issue again before the end of the year.

Backers of cap and trade believe carbon dioxide emissions are causing planetary temperatures to increase.  Backers of cap and trade promote artificially increasing the cost of carbon-based energy in order to create an incentive for consumers to rely less on carbon dioxide emitting sources of energy.

Cap and trade will, by design, directly increase the cost of carbon-based energy.  This will affect all sectors of the economy that depend on energy derived from fossil fuels.  Any household or business that uses electricity generated by coal or natural gas will see its rates go up — by some estimates rates will more than double.  Gasoline and diesel will also be affected with costs going up steeply, as well.

Cap and trade will indirectly increase the costs of all goods and services.  Because our nation derives so much of its energy from carbon-based sources it will be all but impossible to avoid paying more for energy.  This will lead to increased costs for businesses to provide goods and services–necessarily passing this cost on to consumers.

Cap and trade will succeed in raising costs across the economy, but it will fail to do anything to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions.

Presently, the United States account for about a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions.  Over time, as emerging nations industrialize, our percentage of total emissions is going to shrink.  Globally, coal and natural gas are abundant and cheap.  Though we may reduce our consumption, rapidly industrializing nations such as India and China will increasingly rely on carbon-based energy to power their modernization.  And, as both nations have recently stated, they see no reason to stop this trend.

Cap and trade is viable if practiced in a simple system, but our planet is no such thing.  In America, the effects of cap and trade would be an additional burden to our already struggling economy.  It would fail to exert any influence over carbon dioxide emissions, globally.  Most worryingly, it would result in a massive cession of power to the federal government forcing us to waive our right to individually decide how we obtain the essential energy that fuels our standard of living.

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