Waxman-Markey Counterproductive?

Gar Lipow argues, and convincingly so, in a current article on Grist, that Waxman-Markey’s cap and trade provisions are counterproductive.

I am still deferring to Mr. Gore and to Mr. Krugman, not to mention to David Roberts who seems to be wavering. So I am relectuant to argue against this bill. 
Lipow doesn’t address the issue of appearing in Copenhagen with nothing much to show. This still seems to me to at least weigh in favor of some large bill. But he does address the issue of putting bad metrics into practice to start with. 
In closing Lipow quotes Peter Dorman, so I’ll quote the same paragraph as something to think about:
Mainstream environmental groups are … soooooo happy that climate deniers are not in command of politics any more. They are fighting yesterday’s battle, to get general agreement on the principle that climate change is caused by people, and people need to do something about it. They like the nice feeling that comes from all of us raising our hands and pledging, scout’s honor, to achieve sustainability by 2050. But they are losing today’s battle to put into place a viable means to get from here to there, and judging from their public statements they don’t even know it.
Stacy Morford, on the SolveClimate site, is also on the fence.
In terms of public awareness, I lunched with a bunch of intelligent and astute American adults yesterday. None of them had heard of Waxman-Markey, though one person had heard of Rep. Waxman. 
Maybe this sort of opacity is necessary as a matter of realpolitik these days, but I don’t have to like it, do I? Shouldn’t this have escaped the energy blogs and made a tiny impact on the mainstream?


  1. I think Lipow messed up significantly with this statement:"Another flaw is that 80% of the permits are given away rather than auctioned. (The number 85% is bandied around a great deal, but seems to ignore the “unallocated” permits whose preferred use is deficit reduction.) This is an obvious justice issue, since it means the creation of a new property right which is then turned over to the very rich."He says that others can discuss the justice issue but the leaves the above statement hanging.The vast majority of those giveaways go to regulated utilities, and I'd be surprised if Lipow didn't know that. Those utilities won't be able to simply to pocket the profits from sales of permits they don't need.I think he's signficantly overstated his case against W-M, which probably has a lot to do with his rabid opposition to offsets.

  2. It’s being done right in BC, and has been for a year now, and the government just got re-elected:http://www.dobmagazine.nickles.com/columns/column.asp?article=magazine%2Fcolumns%2F090525%2FMAG_COL2009_YP0000.html Industry Commentary May 25, 2009Canada West: B.C. Voters Opt For Continuity, Not ChangeProvincial elections are usually of great interest to provincial residents, but of more limited interest to those living elsewhere. However, the election of May 12 in British Columbia is of wider interest for the light it sheds on the broader political scene in Canada. Voters and politicians across the country should take note.Premier Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government was the first in Canada to go to the polls since the full onslaught of the recession. …Voters responded … by rewarding the Liberals with a solid majority government and the first “threepeat” in 26 years. …The Liberal government in B.C. was the first to introduce a comprehensive carbon tax, and the first to face the potential wrath of voters. However, what wrath there was appears to have been directed not at the Liberals by opponents of the tax, but by environmentalists at the New Democrats for their pledge to “axe the tax.”

  3. It’s a start. It’s a start in the wrong direction, probably, but getting moving even in the wrong direction is better than staying immobile. Next issue is to turn it.One of Grist’s linkshttp://internationalrivers.org/files/DRP2English2008-521_0.pdf is excellent on this, particularly dissecting the difference between the original sulfur pollution cap and trade deal (local discrete identified sites, easily measured, stepwise reduction) and the current giveaway system.

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