Obama’s Attempt To Revive Cap And Trade

Posted on Fri 01/29/2010 by

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By Nick Loris

President Obama gave his first State of the Union speech last night and while his delivery reminded many Americans of the man they saw on the campaign trail, his rhetoric was much of the same. Although the president did call for offshore drilling and an expansion of nuclear, his focus was clean energy jobs. He declared,

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.”

A climate bill with incentives that will make clean energy profitable really means a carbon tax on cheaper, more reliable fuels with a cap and trade system. Of course, the President Obama can’t say that. Incentives in this case also means tax credits, subsidies, mandates and loan guarantees for preferred energy sources. To be clear, no energy source should receive such support, subsidizing inefficient energy sources costs Americans as energy consumers in terms of higher prices and as taxpayers.

The president said there were those disagreeing with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. While it was clear from the grumblings from some sections in the Capitol that certain Members of Congress disagree, so do scientists and climatologists. The government relies heavily on the 2007 United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to establish consensus, but more than 700 scientists dispute the findings of that report. And a new study is showing that the amplification of global warming by carbon-cycle feedback is much less than previously though. Another study finds that “the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.”

Now, it’s turning out that some of the claims in the IPCC report may not be accurate. The Himalayan glaciers won’t disappear by 2035 as it was said in the report; and that claim was based on speculation. Digging deeper, the IPCC climate models were based on data from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University. Hackers leaked e-mails and other documents CRU’s scientists and the emails detail how these climatologists refused to share data, plotted to keep dissenting scientists from getting published in leading journals and discarded original data. Some have resigned. Others are under investigation. It turns out that the actions of CRU scientists breached data laws under the Freedom of Information Act.  The president brought the swagger he had during his campaign trail back to the podium last night, but his insistence on transparency was nowhere to be found.

And President Obama says we must be the best in clean energy production. Why? What if it’s cheaper to import it? His confidence in American innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is laudable but his mercantilist approach (he also said he wants to double exports in 5 years) to job creation will be a road to inefficiency and less prosperity.

Contributing Author Nick Loris writes at The Heritage Foundation and he is a Research Assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.

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