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The death of cap and trade leaves an ugly survivor

March 2, 2010 - Mike Maneval

Last week, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, declared the environmental proposal known as cap and trade "dead."

Unfortunately, the new legislation Graham, along with Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is drafting as an alternative would "apply different carbon controls to individual sectors of the economy instead of setting a national target," according to the Washington Post. One particularly onerous item under debate would be a motor fuel tax, a regressive method that likely would burden the middle class far more than the convoluted credit-trading scheme Graham pronounces dead.

The purported alternative also includes expanded drilling for oil and gas off-shore. As long as the neighbors of the potential development - both residents along the shore and the industries that have as much right to our coasts as drillers do - approve, I don't object to more drilling itself. But as I've suggested before, most recently and perhaps most directly in January, reducing our dependency on producing energy from finite commodities makes clear economic sense, the science of atmosphere and ecology aside. Exhausting our domestic supplies of oil, in the long-run, increases the concentration in the hands of foreign powers and increase the material value of that concentration.

Better approaches would focus on development of solar and wind, natural gas, hydroelectric, geothermal and landfill-methane technologies in the interest of diversification, or expansion of America's freight-rail capacities to reduce energy consumption and demand, or both.


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