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Cap-And-Trade "Three-Card Monte" Dead For 2009

Politics / US Politics Nov 19, 2009 - 05:45 AM GMT

By: Mike_Shedlock

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleTypically, one of the best thing Congress ever does is nothing. And so it is again with the Cap-And-Trade energy bill. Thankfully, Senate Climate Bill Delay Raises Doubt on Chance for U.S. Law.


The U.S. Senate won’t try to pass a bill limiting U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions for months, clouding the prospects for final legislation as the Obama administration focuses on health care and the economy.

“We’re going to try to do that sometime in the spring,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said of climate-change legislation in remarks to reporters yesterday. He didn’t cite a reason for the delay.

President Barack Obama had sought Senate action on a measure, already passed by the House, in time for talks in Copenhagen next month on a new global climate treaty. The Senate slowdown further jeopardizes the measure’s chances of passage, Whitney Stanco, an analyst in Washington for Concept Capital, said in a report today.

“The spring timeline would push the debate closer to the 2010 mid-term elections, potentially setting lawmakers up for a difficult vote before they face their constituents in the ballot box,” said Stanco, whose company advises investors.

Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat and chairman of the panel, said this week that lawmakers will be too busy debating health care, job creation and banking legislation to take up cap-and-trade proposals. “By the time you turn around, it’s March,” Boxer told reporters.

“The Senate is far from the 60 votes needed to move a climate-change bill and that is unlikely to change as long as the economy continues to underperform,” said Thomas Mann, a political analyst at Washington-based Brookings Institution in an e-mail yesterday. “If Obama succeeds in getting a health- reform bill and financial regulation, I think his energies in 2010 will be focused on jobs and the economy.”

Sins of Emission

Inquiring minds are reading Sins of Emission in the Wall Street Journal, how the ethanol boondoggle is an environmental catastrophe.

OCTOBER 29, 2009
Donning FDR's cape, Eisenhower's stripes and JFK's boat shoes, President Obama observed in Florida on Tuesday that his "clean energy economy" will require "mobilization" on the order of fighting World War II, building the interstate highway system and going to the moon. Of course, the only "mobilization" going on at the moment is on behalf of ethanol, whose many political dispensations the biofuels lobby is finding new ways to preserve even as the evidence of its destructiveness piles up.

The latest embarrassment arrives via the peer-reviewed journal Science, not known for its right-wing inclinations. A new paper calls attention to what the authors (led by Princeton's Tim Searchinger) call "a critical accounting error" in the way carbon emissions from biofuels are measured in climate-change programs world-wide.

The Science study argues [the Cap-and-trade program] is a false economy, because it doesn't consider changes in land use. If mature forests are cleared to make room for biofuel-growing farms, then the carbon that would otherwise accumulate in those forests ought to be counted on ethanol's balance sheet as well.

Cap-and-trade programs exacerbate the problem because developed countries (where emissions are putatively capped) get credit for reductions from ethanol—despite the fact that their biofuels are generally grown in developing countries (where emissions aren't capped). So if Malaysians burn down a rain forest to grow palm oil that ends up in German biodiesel, Malaysia doesn't count the land-use emissions and Germany doesn't count the tail-pipe emissions.

By way of a solution, Mr. Searchinger and his coauthors modestly suggest doing away with the regulatory three-card monte and counting net ethanol emissions from where they are actually emitted. But this is political heresy on Rep. Henry Waxman's Energy and Commerce Committee, which passed its own cap-and-tax program in July with the votes of farm-state Democrats, because the bill all but banned the Environmental Protection Agency from studying land-use changes. So much for letting "the science" guide public policy.

In Florida, Mr. Obama said the only people who could oppose his climate plan are "those who are afraid of the future." On this one, at least, the President is right.

Green Hell

Not only is Cap-And-Trade environmentally unsound, it would be crippling to many businesses. However it would benefit GE.

Please consider Boxer pays off GE in climate bill

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s climate bill set to be released today contains a provision that will compensate General Electric quite nicely for its lobbying and media efforts promoting climate legislation.

Section 821(c) requires that, by December 12, 2012, the EPA set standards for greenhouse gas emissions from “new aircraft and new engines used in new aircraft.”

General Electric is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial and military jet engines, a business worth about $12 billion in annual revenues.

So the Boxer bill would compel airlines and the military, when purchasing new aircraft and new aircraft engines, to purchase more expensive “green” engines made by GE, according to standards set by the current and GE-lobbied Obama administration.

Keep in mind that GE CEO Jeff Immelt is member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Council.

More evidence that GE’s political action committee (GEPAC) meant what it said in its August 19, 2009 e-mail to employees by John Rice, the CEO of GE Technology Infrastructure:

Dear Colleagues:

I would like to invite you to join me in an important initiative available to GE leaders — the GE Political Action Committee (GEPAC). This year, Senior Professional Band (SPB) employees will have the choice to join other eligible employees to become members of GEPAC.

The intersection between GE’s interests and government action is clearer than ever. GEPAC is an important tool that enables GE employees to collectively help support candidates who share the values and goals of GE. While we must continue to engage elected officials to help them better understand our various businesses and how legislation affects our Company and our customers, we must also make sure that candidates who share GE’s values and goals get elected to office. ....

For the rest of the Email please see GE seeks support for GE-minded politicians.

Cap and Tax Fiction

Please consider another Wall Street Journal on Cap and Tax Fiction

To get support for his bill, Mr. Waxman was forced to water down the cap in early years to please rural Democrats, and then severely ratchet it up in later years to please liberal Democrats. The CBO's analysis looks solely at the year 2020, before most of the tough restrictions kick in. As the cap is tightened and companies are stripped of initial opportunities to "offset" their emissions, the price of permits will skyrocket beyond the CBO estimate of $28 per ton of carbon. The corporate costs of buying these expensive permits will be passed to consumers.

The biggest doozy in the CBO analysis was its extraordinary decision to look only at the day-to-day costs of operating a trading program, rather than the wider consequences energy restriction would have on the economy. The CBO acknowledges this in a footnote: "The resource cost does not indicate the potential decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) that could result from the cap."

The hit to GDP is the real threat in this bill. The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.

When the Heritage Foundation did its analysis of Waxman-Markey, it broadly compared the economy with and without the carbon tax. Under this more comprehensive scenario, it found Waxman-Markey would cost the economy $161 billion in 2020, which is $1,870 for a family of four. As the bill's restrictions kick in, that number rises to $6,800 for a family of four by 2035.

Note also that the CBO analysis is an average for the country as a whole. It doesn't take into account the fact that certain regions and populations will be more severely hit than others -- manufacturing states more than service states; coal producing states more than states that rely on hydro or natural gas. Low-income Americans, who devote more of their disposable income to energy, have more to lose than high-income families.

As the saying goes ...

It's time to update the old saying "What's Good For GM Is Good For America"

Here is the new saying ... "What's Good For GE Is Bad For America"

For more on GE and how corporate cronyism is helping destroy the country, please see GE CEO Plays Kiss Ass With Obama.

By Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management . Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.

Visit Sitka Pacific's Account Management Page to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

I do weekly podcasts every Thursday on HoweStreet and a brief 7 minute segment on Saturday on CKNW AM 980 in Vancouver.

When not writing about stocks or the economy I spends a great deal of time on photography and in the garden. I have over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Some of my Wisconsin and gardening images can be seen at MichaelShedlock.com .

© 2009 Mike Shedlock, All Rights Reserved

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