Filed under: Environment
Waxman-Markey passed the House by 7 votes, 219-212. 44 Democrats voted against the bill. Many no doubt did so because they thought the bill did too much to protect the environment. But did any Democrats vote against Waxman-Markey because it doesn’t do enough?
Well, at least one did: Pete DeFazio of Oregon. If you follow the link, you’ll find DeFazio’s extremely cogent argument against cap-and-trade. In particular, he’s strongly opposed to CDM-style carbon “offsets”, where companies get to buy permits to emit carbon from other companies with projects that supposedly reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases. DeFazio thinks it’s liable to massive scamming and that it will eviscerate up to two-thirds of any planned carbon emissions reductions. He likens the trading of emissions credits to the trading of financial derivatives. And he has an alternative plan: cap and don’t trade. Just cap. Plain old cap. It’s the Jim McDermott climate change bill, which DeFazio supports.
I prefer the McDermott regulatory approach because of its certainty. Under this alternative we will reduce emissions here in the United States of America; we won’t be engaged in buying phony offsets offshore; and we won’t create new exotic financial vehicles like “carbon default swaps” and “carbon tranches.”
It’s an honorable position. Unfortunately it has absolutely no chance of passing. It’s worth noting that Jim McDermott himself voted for Waxman-Markey. But we need people like DeFazio out there, because the next step, if Waxman-Markey passes the Senate, will be to come back next year or the year after, and make it tougher.
Add.: I should say that I don’t agree with DeFazio — I think CDM carbon offsets are a good thing, I don’t agree that scamming is as widespread as claimed, and I think a lot of the problems can be resolved by setting a percentage limit to the amount of carbon reduction that can be derived from offsets. But DeFazio’s opposition is responsible in that he has an alternative proposal and he’s genuinely seeking a better system for carbon emissions reductions. There are a lot of people out there who just use skepticism on the effectiveness of cap-and-trade as an excuse to throw up their hands and do nothing, which is an approach that makes the folks at Acme Coal-Fired Electric Power Plant Inc. very happy.
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