Cap and control

The so-called cap-and-trade energy bill is 900-plus pages of expensive regulations, new federal bureaucracy, skyrocketing costs for virtually every American, all for a highly questionable impact on global warming.

If you think we’re not big fans of the bill introduced by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., you’re absolutely right.

The Washington Post editorialized Sunday on just one reason to object to the bill. In the name of improving energy efficiency in construction, the bill basically mandates the creation of a national building code aimed at ensuring that all new buildings constructed beginning in 2012 are 30 percent more energy efficient than today. The figure grows to 50 percent more efficient by 2016.

States that refuse to adopt the new code would be penalized with reduced federal funding and would receive fewer carbon credits that they could sell or trade. And the U.S. Department of Energy would be given authority to enforce the code in those states.

Think you have headaches now, dealing with the local building inspectors? Imagine the frustration you’ll experience when you have to call a federal agency for a building inspection or permit.

Allowing the federal government to assume partial control of what has always been a local responsibility is just one of the serious problems with the Waxman-Markey bill.

There is the cost to everyone if the bill is enacted — in higher prices for electricity, fuel, consumer goods and more. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that cost at $1,600 per household in the first few years after the legislation is implemented, rising over the decades as the requirement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions grows. Others have estimated the annual cost per household as being even higher.

There is a dispute, based on experiences in Europe, on how many actual “green” jobs would be created, versus other jobs lost, through the bill’s renewable energy and energy-efficiency sections. There are also questions, again based on what has happened in Europe, about whether the legislation would actually produce the reduction in CO2 emissions it seeks, as companies purchase or trade for greater emission allowances.

Furthermore, even if the bill does exactly what it proposes, it will only reduce CO2 emissions in this country by 17 percent over the next decade. That will impact total global CO2 emissions by less than 5 percent, some say. All this for what many experts believe will be a massive disruption to the U.S. economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to bring the Waxman-Markey bill to a vote of the full House by the end of next week. Fortunately, there are indications that the bill faces many obstacles. Some environmental groups complain that the bill doesn’t go far enough to restrict CO2 emissions. Many lawmakers of both parties — especially those in industrial regions — worry the bill will further damage their already-battered economies.

We hope the combined forces of opposition are enough to kill a very bad bill.


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