Obama’s flawed emissions proposal: Cap-and-trade, “offsets” allow plants to pay to pollute

We recently mentioned that we expected Obama’s new carbon emission rules to allow a lot of flexibility to carbon companies, include the implementation of “cap-and-trade” as a market-based “enforcement” mechanism.

I put “enforcement” in quotes above, because there’s little force in most market-based systems for carbon emissions. Cap-and-trade works better (depending on the implementation) if the goal is to reduce pollution (like sulphur) by an industry you want to preserve (like coal-burning energy facilities). Cap-and-trade works terribly for an industry you want to destroy — like coal-burning energy facilities.

Cap-and-trade is a let-you-down-easy way to regulate, and it generally lets the regulated industry decide how easy. In most places where it’s used to limit CO2 emissions, cap-and-trade is an industry enabler. What are the odds, in today’s carbon-captured governmental system, that will work?

Cap-and-trade only works when it’s brutal, not when it’s kind. And it only works when the regulators control the rules, not the participants. Obama’s plan is neither brutal nor controlled entirely by the regulators.

How does cap-and-trade work?

Here’s a good description of cap-and-trade in general, as applied to CO2 emissions, from a truly valuable webpage on both cap-and-trade and carbon-tax methods of emission reduction. The source is the League of Women Voters (my paragraphing and emphasis throughout):


CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants, animated (source)

CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants (source; click to animate)

With this approach, a regulatory body (e.g., the federal government) sets a cap on emissions of a particular pollutant (e.g., CO2) from a designated group of polluters (e.g., power plants). The total emissions allowed under the cap are divided into individual permits, each representing the right to emit a certain quantity of the pollutant (e.g., one ton of CO2). The permits are then allocated to the sources covered by the program. (There are a variety of allocation methods, including free distribution to the capped entities, an auction, or some combination of the two.) At the end of the compliance period (e.g., one year), each regulated source must report all emissions and surrender an equivalent number of permits, to be retired from the system.

Since the total number of permits is limited by the cap [except under some systems, like Obama’s], the permits take on financial value and can be traded on the open market. Companies that are able to reduce their emissions at low cost can sell their surplus permits to companies for whom the cost of reducing emissions is high. Each company has the flexibility to choose how to meet its emissions target, but market incentives encourage companies to invest in new technologies or employ conservation measures to lower the cost of reducing emissions. Over time, the emissions cap is tightened to achieve more aggressive pollution-reduction targets, requiring companies to adjust their strategies to comply with the new levels.

Several things to notice when looking for holes in a regulation scheme like this:

First, the overall number of permits determines the amount of reduction. Offer too many permits, and you get very little reduction. (In the worse cap-and-trade systems, there’s a way for participants to create new permits on their own. Obama’s has this feature, called “offsets,” as well. See below.)

Second, the allocation method can favor some emitters — for example, those with the highest cost to reduce emissions. Let’s create an extreme case. Say you were implementing a cap-and-trade system that included just Kentucky (a coal-burning high-emissions state) and Oregon (a non-coal low-emissions state). Then you gave 95% of the permits to Kentucky, enough to force only small changes there for the next 10 years, and put most of the burden (but not all) of reduction on Oregon.

You’d get the opposite of the result you wanted — if your goal was to eliminate emissions from coal plants. On the other hand, you’d get exactly the result you wanted — if you wanted to appear to reduce emissions from coal plants while making sure that coal profits weren’t terribly impacted. (In the latter case, you want to be careful to force some changes on Kentucky; otherwise, you couldn’t point to them later and claim credit.)

Third, as the example above shows (regulating just Kentucky and Oregon), your plan could fail by regulating only some entities involved in causing a problem and letting others off the hook. You couldn’t meaningfully reduce carbon dioxide emissions, even in just the energy sector, by regulating only certain plants, for example, or by letting each state regulate by applying different rules to their own favored industries, such as letting Kentucky and other coal states coddle their home industries. Obama’s new EPA rules allow each state to design its regulation regime.

Fourth, the scheme could fail by regulating the wrong “measurable.” In the case of carbon emissions from electricity plants, the measureable could be either “carbon dioxide” or “all hydrocarbon emissions.” Using the former would prevent you from counting leakage from methane-burning (natural gas) plants. You could also measure either “total emissions” or “emissions per megawatt-hour generated.” Measuring the latter also favors methane-burning plants, since methane plants already generate more power per unit of emission.

Fifth, the tightening of the emissions cap “over time” can be a fast process or a painfully slow one. In that case, you’d get credit up front for putting into place a self-described “strong, market-based reduction plan” that, ten years down the road, did more than your predecessors did, but far less than was needed.

Finally, by not relying on force to begin with — but “encouragement” — you’re inviting industry lobbyists to help you “improve” the plan in the interest of making it more “practical” — all behind the scenes, after the fact, and away from the legacy-damaging TV lights.

This League of Women Voters page has much good information; we’ll be returning to it often. But I want to turn to just one of its sub-topics — “offsetting,” a process by which cap-and-trade–regulated entities can create new permits on their own. Obama’s plan includes offsetting.

Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal is flawed, allows “offsets”

Not only do cap-and-trade plans in general have problems, but Obama’s cap-and-trade plan has additional problems. The following is from a press release by Institute for Policy Studies, Climate Policy Program Director Janet Redman:

EPA’s Carbon Rule Falls Short of Real Emissions Reduction

Cap-and-trade, offsets allow power plants to pay to pollute

On the heels of two telling reports from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) and the National Climate Assessment detailing the substantial negative impacts from climate change around the world, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) decision to incorporate emissions trading and offsetting in their new carbon dioxide rule undermines its ability to deliver the real reductions in carbon emissions so urgently needed. …

In addition to problems inherent in cap-and-trade, Obama’s plan allows “offsets”:

Proponents claim the U.S. can design cap-and-trade better than the Europeans, but they’re already importing one of the worst aspects – offsetting. Offsets allow regulated power plants to pay farmers, foresters and others outside the cap to reduce their emissions, and then claim those cuts for themselves. Power plants keep polluting, and the families living in their shadow continue to breathe toxic emissions. Communities near the polluters don’t see any benefits from the supposed reduction in pollution taking place elsewhere.

To top it off, it is nearly impossible for the supplier of an offset to guarantee that the offsetting action will be in place for the duration of a power plant’s life. Given the 50-year lifespan of carbon in the atmosphere after is it released, offsetting poses a real risk to long-term climate stability.

Even the U.S. Government Accountability Office points out that, ‘offsets allow regulated entities to emit more while maintaining the emissions levels set by a cap and trade program or other program to limit emissions.’

The League of Women Voters on “offsets”:

Offsets. These are GHG reductions from sources not covered by the cap-and-trade program and that regulated entities can use to meet their compliance obligations. Firms could cover some of their emissions by purchasing credits created through offset projects, such as methane capture at a landfill or avoided deforestation. An offset program can significantly reduce compliance costs by providing access to lower-cost emissions reduction options. …

Care must be taken to ensure that only high-quality offset projects are included—lest the environmental goals of the cap-and-trade program be compromised [my emphases in this paragraph]. Emissions reductions must be real, additional (beyond what would have occurred anyway), verifiable by an independent third party, permanent, and enforceable.

Given Obama’s proven track record of not matching deeds to words, I suspect that every problem identified above — that the offsets must be real, additional, verifiable, permanent, enforceable — will be found to be a problem with the current plan. If for no other reason, lobbyists.

Obama’s plan “moves the goalpost” for measuring reductions

There are other problems with Obama’s program not detailed here. For example, it arbitrarily moves the goalpost, the point from which emission reductions are measured, from the international benchmark year of 1990 — when U.S. CO2 emissions were about 5100 million tons — to 2005, when U.S. emissions were 6100 million tons. (See page 27 of this EPA report.)

Obama wants to reduce emissions by 30%, and if he measures down from 2005, he’s already halfway there before he starts. Magic. If he measures from 1990, however, he’s got nothing. Actually he’s got less than nothing. CO2 emissions in 2013 were about 5400 million tons (pdf; see Table 12.1). He’d have to lose 3 million tons off last year’s number just to break even by 1990 standards.

And that doesn’t take into account that he moved the target year as well for these reductions, the year by which the reductions are due. IPCC set the goal for developed nations at the year 2020. Obama’s goal — 2030, ten years too late.

I’ll have more on this aspect of Obama’s plan — what does it attempt to achieve — soon, but these new standards don’t begin to meet even the conservative IPCC reduction recommendations.

Points for trying?

On the other hand, Obama’s getting points from the left for trying, and those he deserves. He’s also getting points for being the first of his ilk (presidents are definitely an ilk) to take on this issue without going through Congress. He deserves those too.

I’d love to say he gets points for going all out. Can’t do that. Maybe the next of his ilk will actually go full FDR on the carbon industry … or maybe not.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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29 Responses to “Obama’s flawed emissions proposal: Cap-and-trade, “offsets” allow plants to pay to pollute”

  1. Poechewe says:

    You’re quoting Krugman from 2010. He’s backed off somewhat since then. I won’t argue the point since the economy is brittle. But if alternative energy continues dropping rapidly in prices and becomes significantly cheaper than fossil fuels in the next two or three years, it will be a significant boon to the economy for years to come, though it won’t solve longterm issues.

    Is socialism the answer? Beats me. Conservatives, on one issue, may be right: more people may need to accept more responsibility for their lives. I interpret that in a progressive sense. Although Americans sometimes rise to the occasion, the reality is that there are far too many people who have no idea what you and I are talking about. That’s not good.

    As for Democrats, there’s lots happening on the West Coast and a lot happening in the Northeast on global warming and alternative energy.

    Look, it’s actually been good to talk to you.

  2. Bill_Perdue says:

    I don’t have a clue who the Republicans will nominate. They’re all the same and I just picked a name out of the hat. They’re all right centrists, just like the Democrat nominee will be.

    Paul Krugman of the NY Times: “We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.” I agree. I didn’t mention the Depression of 1929 to 1941.

    The socialist goal is not to fix the capitalist system or fine tune right wing tax structures. Our goal is to eliminate capitalism, confiscate the wealth of the rich – all of it – and use that as a starter fund to enact constitutional guarantees for good wages, housing, nutrition, education and socialized medicine for the only important economic group – workers.

    The economy improved under Clinton because of the sellout of the USSR and the attendant “Peace Dividend”, because inflation from the Vietnam era finally fizzled out and because the burden of the taxpayer costs for the Carter/Reagan caused S&L crisis ended. And that has nothing to do with the fact that he championed and signed NAFTA and the deregulation bills of 1999 and 2000 that wrecked the economy. As I said, Bush played a bit part in the 2007 Crash but Clinton had the starring role. Citing the fact that Rush Limbaugh is an ass is not really a response to the charge that the current economic crisis belongs to Clinton and both parties in Congress. (Enough Democrats in Congress voted for NAFTA to ensure it’s easy passage and they voted overwhelmingly for the 1999 and 2000 deregulation bills. All of those were Republican bills.)

    Hillary Clinton aided the Obama regimes escalation in Afghanistan and aggression in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Pakistan and Palestine (using proxies in Bahrain and Palestine). Shes a warmonger and a hawk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkS9y5t0tR0

    “Most Democrats in Congress want to do something about global warming. Most Republicans don’t.” There is absolutely no proof for the idea that Democrats would support real solutions, eliminate fracking, eliminate offshore drilling, spend trillions to green the economy and jail polluters.

  3. Poechewe says:

    Who says Jeb Bush will be the nominee? He’s too moderate for many Republicans these days. These days, even George W. Bush is probably too moderate for Republicans. Now isn’t that a joke.

    As for the current economy, reread your history of the 1930s. Mind you, today is not a good economy, but it’s not a depression either. The basic underlying problem, besides the friendly tax code for Plutocrats is that nothing gets cheaper anymore (hey, Obama did correct a little of that tax code; do you really believe you have a chance of fixing that further by ignoring both parties?). But energy is definitely a problem. Except alternative energy may at last be able to change that. The chances are very good, but no one can guarantee it. It’s possible things could fall apart, and it frankly won’t matter where you are on the political spectrum.

    Wages generally improved under Bill Clinton, as did the economy. You cannot ignore the explosion of computers and the Internet. And remember that Clinton did try to pass a healthcare bill. Yes, you win on NAFTA. Did he yield too much to Republicans from 1995 to 2001? Yes he did. And more than he had to. But your point, given the conditions of the 90s? Given the craziness of the impeachment proceedings and the waste of money of the Starr investigation and the entrapment techniques used? Have you forgotten the increasing rise of Fox, Rush Limbaugh, the nauseating political vocabulary of Gingrich, the embarrassing slipshod reporting by major networks until the Iraq fiasco?

    But things change, even if not quickly enough. You did follow, didn’t you, what happened AFTER Colin Powell made his presentation in 2003? Yeah, it took time. It wasn’t fun. But three years later the Democrats came back. Was the comeback perfect? Nope. But were things done? Yes. What happened? Donald Rumsfeld was fired and Cheney had his legs cut out from under him. We were not fighting in Iran. Even that fool Wolfowitz was gone. Did that solve all our problems? Nope. But your realistic, real world solution at this point would be?

    What did Hillary Clinton do as Secretary of State? She restored the diplomatic reputation of the United States. Was that easy? Nope. Was it entirely successful? Nope, the problems with the overreach of the NSA has undermined that somewhat. I say ‘somewhat’ because the world needs a functioning United States (hence the embarrassing Nobel). Why are various nations even bothering to cut us some slack despite being pissed? Because nobody is going anywhere without a reasonably functioning United States. What’s your solution? Something perfect we don’t have time to build? Maybe it’s something brilliant. I don’t know. Look, you read your history, you do your analysis, I give you that. But how is it going to get us to where we need to go?

    I’m not ignoring the economy. It’s just that I’m acutely aware of the real state of fossil fuels. And the increasingly pathetic return on energy invested. We’re not that far away from using peat. Imagine that. We have centuries of peat, if we survive that long.

    The clock is ticking on global warming. Absolutely no scientist knows the precise timeline on how bad things get if we continue to do so little. But there is now movement. When there is movement, you encourage it, you grow it, you move it along, you pursue it. Most Democrats in Congress want to do something about global warming. Most Republicans don’t. Is it really that hard to see?

  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    The 2007 Crash produced a Depression, much like the long Depression of 1872-1879 except that this one will last longer and has an unwholesomely good chance of getting much worse.

    Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush will be a disaster. The left welcomes their nomination. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are perfect lesser evils, each
    in their own way. The left couldn’t ask for a better object lesson in the utter senselessness and assured destructiveness of the right wing’s versions of the twin lesser evil absurdity than Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

    Hillary Clinton is a right wing christer loon. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/09/hillarys-prayer-hillary-clintons-religion-and-politics

    She’s a graduate of the Wal-Mart school of union busting and scabbery. She sat on the Wal-Mart board of directors for six years while Bill Clinton was using the office of Governor of Arkansas to spread the influence of Wal-Mart across the country. Later, by championing and signing NAFTA, he helped Wal-Mart infest the world.

    The Clintons are subsidized by Wal-Mart through Wal-Marts contributions’ to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees that can go for $200,000.00 a shot. It’s the corporations way of saying thank you for NAFTA, DOMA, DADT and deregulation. Chelsea Clinton is the Vice Chair of Clinton Foundation. It’s the family business.

    Hillary Clintons political role in the 2008 primaries shifted from being HRH Hillary Clinton to a mean spirited race baiter as Obama surged ahead in the polls. She played the race card against Obama every chance she got.

    She’s a venomous and destructive warmonger in the tradition of Bill Clinton and the Bushes. She played Ribbentrop to Obama’s efforts to attack Palestine, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain (regional base of the US and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet) and Afghanistan. She was a key player in Obama’s effort to play out the occupation of Iraq until the US was forced out by Iraqi threats to indict US military and mercenary forces for war crimes. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet.

    She and Obama were enraged when Chelsea Manning exposed their role as war criminals and empire builders. Chelsea Manning was tortured and jailed. Chelsea Manning should have gotten medals and the Nobel Peace Prize for her heroism.

    The left couldn’t ask for a better object lesson in the utter senselessness and assured destructiveness of the right wing’s versions of the twin lesser evil absurdity than Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

  5. Poechewe says:

    The crash started in 2007, I’ll grant you that. But for the sake of convention, I’ll stick with the 2008 Meltdown (I avoid the term, The Great Recession, because it doesn’t reflect the danger we put ourselves in.)

    I’m going to answer you with a caution. Be careful you don’t construct a vision of a crystal glass world where if there’s a scratch, the whole edifice collapses. These days, bitter commentary is a penny for every 500 words. I’m more concerned about leverage and movement than a Gore Vidal analysis. I give that you have the smarts to analyze the past. Can you influence the future in a way that is useful? Maybe you can.

    But I’m always more interested in what can be done today, not the fine points of every piece of political BS since the first Republican primary in 1980. Yes, we’re still in that era, but such nonsense has been with us for over two hundred years.

    Here’s a piece of news that surprises almost everyone in my generation: the world is still here. We didn’t go up in a nuclear fireball. Hot damn.

    I’ll be doing what I can in the time I have to make sure we don’t fry in a runaway greenhouse. So I’ll probably support Hillary in 2016 while also supporting Elizabeth Warren in the primaries so that the left puts pressure on Hillary (progressives better be in that fight and show up in November 2016 and November 2018, or that bitter vision I keep seeing around the Internet might start having some reality to it: read a little Camus to sooth your mind — I do). This is not a game. We need change on global warming that endures. It has to stick.

    Here’s the reality: the world is waiting to see what the U.S. does. Shit. But wind and solar really have reached parity and the costs really are dropping rapidly and wind and solar really are growing at double digit rates. Yes, more has to be done. No argument.

    But nobody gets 100% of what they want. Hey, not even the Koch brothers.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    “The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

    Obama, in an interview with Noticias Univision 23. ABC News, 12 15 2012 http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/obama-considered-moderate-republican-1980s/story?id=17973080.

  7. Troy Aldrich says:

    Hey Gaius. The President did not ask you if you like it. See the President makes the Hard Choices..Not the Popular ones. If you do not like what the President does then Vote Republican then you will really have something to complain about.

  8. Bill_Perdue says:

    You phrased the question incorrectly. They’ve all done badly. Obama, with his support for environmentally reckless policies like fracking, offshore drilling and Keystone and his refusal to treat BP, Haliburton and Massey Energy as criminals has done worse.

    Claiming that both parties have the same policies is the simple truth, especially for those who see no point in letting two/party partisanship guide their environment understanding.

    The collapse of 2007 was exacerbated by the policies of Bush, especially tax cuts for the rich, but most of the blame, by far, is the result of Bill Clintons NAFTA, his gutting welfare and his deregulation laws of 1999, the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 or the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act and the deregulation law of 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. All three were written by Republicans, much like DOMA, and all three were championed by Clinton, who elbowed them through Congress and then signed them. They created the housing bubble, which burst and that led to the Crash of 2007.

    We’re likely to see a repeat of that sooner rather than later. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/03/prelude-to-a-crash/

  9. Poechewe says:

    Sorry, name a president who’s done more.

    Keep in mind that I’m perfectly aware that a much more must be done. And frankly a few states are better models of moving forward if all states did the same. But global warming has to be a national policy and requires the House, Senate and president to be on board. The long range problem is making sure a deal on alternative energy and reducing carbon dioxide is a bipartisan deal. But quite obviously Republicans and Democrats have different ideas. The proof again is at the state level.

    This fall, we need the help of Democrats to retake the House. Failing that, we need to hang on to the Senate. If you have other suggestions, I’m all ears. But the president is not working in a vacuum. Without help from the House, he essentially has one hand tied behind his back and a crazy right wing media that is the back pocket of the fossil fuel companies.

    Claiming both parties are no different is just a form of copping out at a time when action is critical. Wait ten years for the perfect politics and it’s checkmate, global warming wins. What? Politics is nasty these days and uncomfortable? Reread the history of European politics over the last 120 years. It’s possible to win on these issues, but first you turn the tide.

    As for Fracking, a collapsed economy is far more dangerous than having a robust enough economy to tackle global warming. Thanks to Bush, the world economy almost crashed. You apparently have no idea how close we came.

    Think it through. Alternative energy has now reached parity. That was not the case in 2009. Far from it. Obama put a lot of money into research. Smart investment.

  10. americanhispanicsdf says:

    my co-worker’s
    mother-in-law makes $84 hourly on the laptop . She has been laid off for 9
    months but last month her pay check was $15725 just working on the laptop for
    a few hours. look at this now

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  11. lynchie says:

    O’Highness is a master at big speeches and this is another issue to convince the left he really cares. XL pipeline will be approved and as far as Cap and Trade that let’s companies pay a token amount rather than fix the problem. In the end the only losers are the citizens of the world since any costs will simply be passed on so the profits remain at the highest levels. There is no talk of mass transit changes, light rail, a push at car pooling, huge tax breaks for solar, wind and alternate energy efforts that we can all take part in.

  12. Bill_Perdue says:

    Allow me to rephrase what you said to make it accurate.

    “No president has done more about to promote global warming than President Obama.” He avidly promotes air pollution, fracking, offshore drilling and soon, Keystone.

    His administration is an environmental disaster. More Democrats or more Republicans in Congress won’t mean change one way of the other. In the end, and in spite of their rhetoric, the twin parties are virtually identical in terms of their policies.

  13. eggroll_jr says:

    Well said.

  14. Poechewe says:

    Yes, more needs to be done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while addressing global warming.

    BUT, now the Chinese have announced a plan to put a limit on their CO2 emissions. Is this a strong announcement, a feeler, a promising proposal? Hard to say. Here’s the story:


    The timing by the Chinese cannot be ignored (hey, they took a lot of coal offline with that Russian deal; they now have room to move).

    Sooner or later, the United States has to get serious about its energy future. Alternative energy is becoming cheaper while no one really knows when fossil fuel prices will spike again like they did in the summer of 2008 (even the Chinese have to be concerned and are buying insurance partly with the Russian deal and partly with the planned installation of 70 GW of solar by 2017).

    The fossil fuel executives can’t tell us how much longer the Fracking boom will last, but we know California is not going to be part of the current boom and it’s ridiculous to wait around for 20 years for technology that doesn’t exist to exploit California’s remaining fields. With California off the table, the picture is not good for fossil fuels. The Rocky Mountains aren’t panning out very well. County after county in North Dakota is having trouble increasing oil production (it’s basically down to two counties at the moment). The truth is that we literally can’t wait until we have to start importing oil again at higher prices. It won’t work and it won’t move the American forward enough for middle class incomes to start rising again. Alternative energy is not a guarantee of broad-based prosperity but the picture is looking brighter and brighter if we go in that direction.

    With Tea Party Republicans and their right wing allies in the back pockets of wealthy conservatives with strong ties to Big Oil, various Republican politicians and frankly many Republican voters who aren’t particularly pleased with the Tea movement and the reckless behavior of people like Ted Cruz are going to have make some choices. The rational types have to face the fact that the right wingers are giving them reckless and irrational choices. Even the phony ruckus over the POW release has an air of desperation to it as Republicans quite clearly are unable to develop coherent policies.

    In the end, it’s just weird for Republicans to make money from wealthy conservatives who have known for over twenty years about global warming but refuse to deal with it for ideological reasons. That’s pathetic. And it’s time for American politics to stop being driven by the pathetic who are bereft of real ideas and real solutions.

    No president has done more about global warming than President Obama. But he has one hand tied behind his back. The voters need to send him some major help. It’s time.

  15. pvequalkt says:

    This has that familiar stench of cowardice and cynicism. Cap/Trade HAD been a right-wing scheme to extract profit from polluting… as noted below (the newtzi, McCain et al). The court gave the EPA the green light YEARS ago.
    And it took audacity hopey changey until freaking NOW?!?
    The proposal seems plenty weak enough to be cynically symbolic… certainly ineffective. It does nothing to wean anyone off of burning stuff for power. It does nothing to interfere with any of the extraction industries. It’s just a corporate whore trying to project an illusion of doing something constructive while creating another profit motive to exploit.
    Plus, it’s not like any of this will ever pass.
    Show of hands: how many think this will get past ANY cloture votes in the senate?. I didn’t think so. How many house votes will it carry? zero. How many Ds will support it? maybe a quarter to a third… and nobody in oil/coal/fracking country.
    Audacity hopey changey and his beards (Pelosi and reid) know this very well.

  16. pappyvet says:

    The time to start paddling is before the boat sinks.

  17. GaiusPublius says:

    Naja, this is an excellent piece of writing. Thanks, and congrats! Also, totally agree.


  18. Drew2u says:

    VOX says, “The power plant regulations the Obama administration will announce
    today are far less ambitious than the proposal McCain offered in Oregon
    in 2008. They’re less ambitious than the proposals Newt Gingrich
    championed through the Aughts. They’re far less than what’s required to
    keep the rise in temperatures to two degrees Celsius.” http://www.vox.com/2014/6/2/5770506/remember-when-the-gop-believed-in-climate-change

    I suppose we all could start farming our own stromatolites, right?

  19. Naja pallida says:

    It was known that lead paint was toxic in the late 1700s – Benjamin Franklin even mentioned it. It was completely and irrefutably scientifically confirmed by the end of the 1800s, and Europe started taking steps to stop using it by around 1904, but the US didn’t ban it until 1978. Lead wasn’t fully banned for use in drinking water plumbing until 1987.

    In 1921 it was discovered that lead reduced engine knock, by 1925 TEL was known to be extremely toxic to anyone who came into contact with it. So much so that manufacturers handled it as if it was a chemical weapon. By 1965 it was verified that the dramatic increase in lead in the environment, including ocean water and even people, was directly correlated with automobile gasoline emissions. The US didn’t fully ban lead in gasoline until 1991.

    The toxicity of asbestos was documented in the early 1900s, and completely verified by 1924. The US didn’t start taking steps to protect the public until the 1970s. To this day most construction that pre-dates the ban is still loaded with asbestos, and requires special procedures to remodel… including public buildings, like schools. They only really go to the expense of removing the asbestos if there is an active problem. Which probably explains why some schools haven’t seen significant remodeling in ages. They don’t want to risk finding asbestos and then having to deal with it.

    To my point, what this really says is that we have decades to go before anyone in government takes climate change seriously. And special interests that are profiting off the destruction of our environment and causing untold suffering, are going to continue fighting it tooth and nail, buying off every weak-willed useful idiot they can, in government and the scientific community, well into the foreseeable future.

  20. Hue-Man says:

    British Columbia’s carbon tax is working (despite expectations). This from the Canada’s equivalent of the WSJ.

    “From 2008 to 2010, BC’s per capita GHG emissions declined by 9.9% — a substantial reduction. During this period, BC’s reductions outpaced those in the rest of Canada by more than 5%.”

    “From 2008 to 2010, BC’s per capita GHG emissions declined by 9.9% — a substantial reduction. During this period, BC’s reductions outpaced those in the rest of Canada by more than 5%.” http://business.financialpost.com/2012/07/05/4-key-reasons-why-bcs-carbon-tax-is-working

    Corporations have proven adept at reducing taxes of all kinds – carbon tax is no different. Invest in projects that reduce carbon consumption – improve insulation, switch from petroleum to (untaxed) electricity, switch auto fleet to hybrid or electric, etc.

  21. cole3244 says:

    obama like the vast majority of dems use bait & switch or the shell game if you will to convince the left they are actually doing the right thing.

    until we elect actual pols that are left of center and believe in that agenda no progress whatsoever will be made in stopping the path to eventual destruction for all of us.

    imo obama has been an abject failure considering his statements and supposed agenda while running for pres and how he has lead since then.

  22. Naja pallida says:

    He’s not a Speaker of the House either. He’s a pet rat the special interests and the nutjobs keep fat with cheese, to serve as their ostensibly respectable face and convenient whipping boy.

  23. Drew2u says:

    Sidenote: the comments at io9 about Boehner’s, “I’m not a scientist” remark are hilarious – http://io9.com/republicans-claim-only-scientists-can-understand-clim-1585063893/all

  24. Bill_Perdue says:

    “But fifty years from now, is that going to seem like enough? I think the answer to that is going to be no.” — White House adviser John Podesta, in an interview with Harper’s, on how President Obama’s new climate change efforts will be viewed historically. From Teagan Goddards political wire.

  25. Bill_Perdue says:

    There are no solutions through current regime or the two leading right wing parties. The solution will come from mass action and independent political action by environmentalists and working people.

    ‘The long established Blue Green Alliance, a loose formation of the top bureaucratic echelons of a few unions and Pale Green groups, hasn’t done much and likely won’t. There are unions, such as National Nurses United, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and SEIU, who have contributed significant official support to the movement against Keystone XL’ http://kclabor.org/wordpress/?p=354

    ‘The old argument that unions must choose between jobs and the environment is losing its grip, as climate change becomes more evident and more urgent. More unions than ever have signed up to join environmentalists for a demonstration in Washington, D.C. against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on Sunday. …
    It’s evidence of a sea change, at least among some unions, when it comes to global warming. Indeed, many are arguing that investment to prevent global warming is the real job-creator.’

    “Climate change is evidence of the death-wish of capitalism – If the limits for adaptation to climate change of natural systems are crossed, ecosystems must soon collapse…. If modern industrial capitalism were a person, he or she would be on suicide watch. The system that has brought us quantum physics and reality television, modern medicine and the columns of Andrew Bolt is set on a course which, by all the best reckoning, points directly to its doing itself in. …
    If capitalism goes on — everything goes. Climate, coastlines, most living species, food supplies, the great bulk of humanity. And certainly, the preconditions for advanced civilisation, perhaps forever.”

  26. Houndentenor says:

    In other words there is no practical solution. No one who proposes what would work could be elected and that’s without the millions in attack ads that would come down on them thank to Citizens United.

  27. Houndentenor says:

    We’re all screwed.

  28. Elijah Shalis says:

    We are in big trouble unless coat use is stopped.

  29. Bill_Perdue says:

    This latest proposal is in line with Obama’s support for fracking, offshore drilling and soon, Keystone, where all the groundwork has been laid. Obama and both congressional parties work for the energy companies and against the interests of working people, consumers and the environment and because of them and other governments that promote climate warming what we have to fear is nothing less than climate catastrophe.

    Reuters 02 26 2012 “The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday. Scientific estimates differ but the world’s temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/26/us-climate-thresholds-idUSBRE82P0UJ20120326

    The writing is on the wall. This is not, as liberals say, a personal problem that can be solved by people trying to consume less energy, although that will help a bit. Nor is it, as conservatives say, a non problem. It’s a problem that will result in mass extinctions of flora and fauna and extreme degradation of our living conditions. It’s a social and political problem that the energy companies and the Democrats and Republicans cannot and will not solve but that socialist can solve. If it’s not too late.

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