A few weeks ago I wrote about how some leaders of the religious left were supporting the EPA’s proposed new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. At the time I wrote, “While there may be some religious liberals who have been duped into thinking the new proposals will actually affect climate change, most are just signaling their allegiance to the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.”
After I wrote that sentence I wondered if I had been too harsh. Was it possible that these liberal religious leaders had looked at the actual evidence and concluded that the changes would indeed affect climate change? It turns out that the answer must be “no.” There is simply no reason to believe the regulations will have an impact. In fact, using a climate model emulator that was in part developed through EPA support, researchers at the CATO Institute found that the new regulations’ effect on climate change is so minuscule as to be almost immeasurable: (more…)
In this week’s Acton Commentary, I discuss whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s planned regulation of carbon emissions can be justified from a Christian perspective. The EPA has found that carbon emissions endanger “public health and welfare,” and it is on track to begin regulating vehicle and power plant emissions.
Environmentalists claim that policies targeting carbon emissions, such as EPA regulation or a cap-and-trade program, will stimulate the economy by creating green jobs. Unfortunately, this is not the case – the government does not have the ability to create jobs.
Rather than stimulating the American economy, full regulation of carbon emissions will damage it severely. Essentially, a cap or a regulatory burden on carbon emissions would create energy scarcity, making it just as expensive to purchase energy from fossil fuels as it is to purchase energy from “renewable” sources. The supply of efficient energy would drop in order to encourage production and consumption of inefficient energy, and prices would skyrocket as a result.
Barack Obama himself admitted, as a presidential candidate, that rising energy prices form a crucial component of emissions regulation.
It’s not just energy prices that will rise. Prices for virtually all other goods and services will rise as well, because it takes energy to produce them. It takes energy to get a vegetable from a farmer’s field to your kitchen table. It takes energy to plant the vegetable, cultivate it, harvest it, transport it, keep it fresh, sell it in a lighted grocery store, drive it from the grocery store to the house, and cook it.
If energy expenses increase at every stage of the vegetable’s journey, what will happen to the price of the vegetable? It will rise. And rising prices will have the worst impact on the poor. Before Christians jump on the bandwagon of carbon politics, they would do well to think through not just the good intentions of climate policy, but the real-world consequences.
What do you call titans of industry who influence governmental regulation to provide them with tax and subsidy incentives to make a business venture profitable?
They used to be called robber barons…now apparently they’re “eco-millionaires.” The NYT piece gives a brief overview of four such figures:
Bruce Khouri “did not found Solar Integrated until 2001 once tax and subsidy incentives made the market more attractive.”
Pedro Moura Costa says he “saw the carbon market could be big business and the Kyoto Protocol confirmed my views.”
According to David Scaysbrook, “tax breaks, subsidies and emissions caps had prompted even more conservative investors ‘to finally move off their perch.’”
And “Neil Eckert, chief executive of Climate Exchange, which runs the main European exchange for carbon trading, has shares worth about 18 million pounds ($36 million). He is also non-executive chairman of Trading Emissions and Econergy, both involved in emission-cutting projects and generating revenue from carbon credits.”
More here on how not only individual investors but also nations are cashing in on artificially-created carbon schemes.
Over at the Becker-Posner blog, the gentlemen consider the question, “Do National Security and Environmental Energy Policies Conflict?” (a topic also discussed here.)
Becker predicts, “Driven by environmental and security concerns, more extensive government intervention in the supply and demand for energy are to be expected during the next few years in all economically important countries. Policies that meet both these concerns are feasible, and clearly would have greater political support than the many approaches that advance one of these goals at the expense of the other.”
Posner observes the difference between a gasoline and a carbon tax, noting that the former would “have a direct effect in reducing demand for oil, thus reducing, as Becker points out, the oil revenues of oil-producing nations.”
But for a policy that addresses both national security and environmental concerns, “a gasoline tax would be inferior to a carbon tax from the standpoint of limiting global warming, because producers of oil, refiners of gasoline, and producers of cars and other products that burn fossil fuels would have no incentive to adopt processes that would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per barrel of oil, gallon of gasoline, etc. A carbon tax would create such an incentive and would also have a strong indirect negative effect on the demand for fossil fuels.”
There’s a lot more to these posts worth mulling over.