Another Western Domino of Cap and Trade

Posted by admin on December 14th, 2008 filed in Carbon Trading, Washington Rulemaking

Yet another domino has fallen in the western governors’ inevitable march to universal cap-and-trade.  Acting in advance of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) and before the Obama administration has had the opportunity to comment on a national program, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has added another piece of cap-and-trade legislation to the pot.  A discussion of the proposal can be found in this excellent article by the Marten Law Group.

Why the rush to cap-and-trade?  Gregoire doesn’t even have the cover of a re-election effort as does Gov. Schwarzenegger – she is off a fresh win, bloodied but unbowed, over Dino Rossi in the November contest.  Cap-and-trade efforts are not simple – they require infrastructure, which will likely be provided by signing a contract with a third-party whose employees reside somewhere outside of Washington (can you see the taxpayer dollars going out of state) and will likely result in a program that will be fully formed only to be overridden by the federal program the Obama administration is likely to implement.

A cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions is not as easy as proponents think – they are dreaming of Acid Rain (Clean Air Act – Title IV) successes, when no clear cut technology exists to remove carbon from the utility stream.  Solutions in the carbon cap-and-trade markets will likely be state subsidized energy reduction programs (e.g., turning lights off at the amazon.com HQ), which will be made doubly hard to account for with the recent economic slowdown (i.e., how much is a real savings and how much is due to reductions in economic activity).

Our Western states should have a place at the federal table and target 2012 implementation (just as proposed) of a rational cap-and-trade system.

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