Obama’s ludicrous, anti-consumer cap and trade regulations aren’t actually about the environment

It’s been overshadowed by the continuing coverage of the Bergdahl-Taliban five swap, but reports began to surface this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the direction of the White House, has begun pushing new carbon rules on existing coal plants that aim to reduce their emissions by 30% from 2005 levels.

Call it cap and trade by regulatory fiat:

Analysts widely expect the final rule to give states the option of joining or creating cap-and-trade programs, which allow companies to trade credits for emissions. The draft released on Monday does not discuss that possibility.

“There are no commercially viable [carbon capture and storage methods]. That’s why we expect cap-and-trade,” said Michael Ferguson, an associate director at S&P who covers merchant energy producers.

At risk of drawing the ire of the climate change true believers, there was a reason the climate change cap and trade legislation failed a few years back, and it wasn’t because evil, bible-thumping conservatives are convinced mankind has no effect on the environment (for the record, we do. But our carbon emissions, for example, are pretty negligible compared to things like decaying organic matter and volcanoes).

No, it was defeated in the Senate because many Democrats that voted against hailed from states that relied on jobs related to the coal industry. And if there’s one thing that moves a politician, it’s the voice of a united constituency.

But not to be deterred, the Obama administration used the EPA and the Clean Air Act to declare carbon emissions a health hazard that must be regulated:

After cap-and-trade legislation was defeated by Congress in 2010, President Barack Obama directed the EPA to work on rules that would regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The EPA opened the door to regulating carbon in 2009, when it declared that “greenhouse gases” are harmful to human health and the environment. As a result, the EPA has sought to reduce carbon emissions through the Clean Air Act.

Legal challenges to the Obama administration’s carbon rules are widely expected, with opponents of the move arguing the Clean Air Act was not passed to regulate carbon emissions.

What makes this difficult to get behind, even for the most ardent of nature lovers, is that some of the states that will be hardest hit are some of the poorest in the nation. And that, true to form, there is no effort to move the process in a manner that would gradually ease these states off coal in a responsible and economically healthy manner:

S&P’s Jeffrey Panger, who covers public sector utilities, noted how companies will have less flexibility to manage volatility in energy prices without coal to fall back on.

He also said rate increases in the past have been fairly manageable, but unlike other emissions, there is no commercially viable way to remove carbon. Under a cap-and-trade system, companies would then be required to pay for excess carbon emissions.

“We’ll probably see more coal retirements and an increased move toward natural gas and renewables to meet reductions,” Panger added. “Overall, the impact is going to be fairly significant in terms of their ability to balance out fuel diversity.”

But then, helping states remain financially stable and actually positively affecting the environment are not really the goals. In fact, cap and trade has never been about the environment at all.

One need only look at the ludicrous reality of purchasing “carbon offsets” if you don’t want to reduce emissions and just pay a fine to keep churning out the devil carbon. But I’ll let Penn and Teller tell you. Watch the whole thing, but the meat is around the 21 minute mark. And remember:

“Regulated utilities are typically able to pass through the costs of complying with environmental rules to rate paying consumers,” the analysts wrote. “Some of the higher utility costs could be passed through indirectly through higher prices for other goods and services, which would increase the effect somewhat.”


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