The House passes climate cap-and-trade bill

The House passed a bill, now to go to the Senate, to purify the climate. Its prime mechanism will be to require companies to buy pollution allowances from companies that don’t pollute as much as they are allowed to.

The House narrowly passed an ambitious climate bill yesterday that would establish national limits on greenhouse gases, create a complex trading system for emission permits and provide incentives to alter how individuals and corporations use energy.

The bill passed 219 to 212 after a furious lobbying push by the White House and party leaders won over farm-state Democrats who had complained that it was too costly, and liberals who wondered if it was too watered down to work. Even after that effort, 44 Democrats voted against the legislation.

The bill, if it became law, would lead to vast changes in the ways energy is made, sold and used in the United States — putting new costs over time on electricity from fossil fuels and directing new billions to “clean” power from sources such as the wind and the sun.

It would require U.S. emissions to decline 17 percent by 2020. To make that happen, the bill would create an economy that trades in greenhouse gases. Polluters would be required to buy “credits” to cover their emissions; Midwestern farmers, among others, could sell “offsets” for things they didn’t emit; and Wall Street could turn those commodities into a new market.

“Create an economy”! Pollution credits bought and sold on Wall Street! This sounds like a free market solution, but is it?

And if carbon dioxide is counted as a harmful “emission,” does that mean we will have to pay somebody every time we exhale?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Co2 is good for plants. And did any of you in the northwest just experience the longest and coldest winter of your lives? Global warming. Pfui.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Co2 is good for plants. And did any of you in the northwest just experience the longest and coldest winter of your lives? Global warming. Pfui.

  • fws

    on the one hand, a cumbersome cap and trade system will predictably work like any control economy. cuba is not doing so well last time I heard….

    on the other hand, industries use resources that belong to all of us. clean air and water are increasingly not the “free” commodities we used to take for granted.

    anyone here get upset at a dog owner not cleaning up after their dog when he S***ts on the sidewalk and you step in it?

    industry likewise has a moral duty to clean up after themselves. The government would do better simply to set standards and then tax or fine.

    and yes, it is OK for them to do that. there is nothing anti free-market in doing that.

    this is called the rule of law.

  • fws

    on the one hand, a cumbersome cap and trade system will predictably work like any control economy. cuba is not doing so well last time I heard….

    on the other hand, industries use resources that belong to all of us. clean air and water are increasingly not the “free” commodities we used to take for granted.

    anyone here get upset at a dog owner not cleaning up after their dog when he S***ts on the sidewalk and you step in it?

    industry likewise has a moral duty to clean up after themselves. The government would do better simply to set standards and then tax or fine.

    and yes, it is OK for them to do that. there is nothing anti free-market in doing that.

    this is called the rule of law.

  • Joe

    “this is called the rule of law.”

    Frank – you are missing the boat. This may be a true statement but it is not a justification for it. All laws, if enforced equally are “the rule of law.” No one is saying that cap and trade is contrary to the rule of law or that it sets up Obama as a king. The objection is on policy grounds. In other words many of us just think that it is a bad law and do not wish to be ruled by it. This bill will drop a huge financial burden on companies that produce goods at a time when the economy is in the tank. Any company that was giving any serious thought to moving a manufacturing operation overseas will have one more reason to do so.

  • Joe

    “this is called the rule of law.”

    Frank – you are missing the boat. This may be a true statement but it is not a justification for it. All laws, if enforced equally are “the rule of law.” No one is saying that cap and trade is contrary to the rule of law or that it sets up Obama as a king. The objection is on policy grounds. In other words many of us just think that it is a bad law and do not wish to be ruled by it. This bill will drop a huge financial burden on companies that produce goods at a time when the economy is in the tank. Any company that was giving any serious thought to moving a manufacturing operation overseas will have one more reason to do so.

  • Carl Vehse

    Rep. Boehner aptly describes this bill.

  • Carl Vehse

    Rep. Boehner aptly describes this bill.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    It’s the condemnations and indulgences bill.
    Tetzel is trying to be resurrected.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    It’s the condemnations and indulgences bill.
    Tetzel is trying to be resurrected.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    My concern about cap and trade is that it will be a bureaucratic nightmare. If we are going to do this sort of thing, why not a straight carbon tax? It would be much more simple to implement. I’m not saying I’m in favor of this, only that given a choice, a carbon tax would have been easier to track and enforce.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    My concern about cap and trade is that it will be a bureaucratic nightmare. If we are going to do this sort of thing, why not a straight carbon tax? It would be much more simple to implement. I’m not saying I’m in favor of this, only that given a choice, a carbon tax would have been easier to track and enforce.

  • http://www.ifyoucouldreadmymind.wordpress.com Lisa R.

    In the opening of the movie “1776″, John Adams bursts into the congressional chamber, shakes his finger in one member’s face and declares, “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a lawfirm; and that three or more become a congress. And by God, I have had this congress!”

    This new administration with its moral and fiscal folly, supported and pushed forward by this ridiculous congress, is enough to drive a sane person mad! I believe that the leadership we’ve got today is God’s judgment on a nation that has rejected Him and has turned to our own ways. My one consolation–the thing that gives me peace in all this–is the knowledge that my God is much more powerful, and He is in control!

    Carl (#4) gives a link that quotes MS Rep. Taylor’s complaint that the Dem. leadership forced its colleagues to “walk the plank on a bill that will die in the Senate.” From your mouth to God’s ears, Mr. Taylor!

  • http://www.ifyoucouldreadmymind.wordpress.com Lisa R.

    In the opening of the movie “1776″, John Adams bursts into the congressional chamber, shakes his finger in one member’s face and declares, “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a lawfirm; and that three or more become a congress. And by God, I have had this congress!”

    This new administration with its moral and fiscal folly, supported and pushed forward by this ridiculous congress, is enough to drive a sane person mad! I believe that the leadership we’ve got today is God’s judgment on a nation that has rejected Him and has turned to our own ways. My one consolation–the thing that gives me peace in all this–is the knowledge that my God is much more powerful, and He is in control!

    Carl (#4) gives a link that quotes MS Rep. Taylor’s complaint that the Dem. leadership forced its colleagues to “walk the plank on a bill that will die in the Senate.” From your mouth to God’s ears, Mr. Taylor!

  • DonS

    This bill WILL die in the Senate, thank goodness. Historians will look back on this travesty as the high water mark of the Pelosi Congress. This was her baby and she was bound and determined to ram it through before the 4th of July. No matter that it promised to fundamentally change our economy and way of life for generations — a 1,000 (!!!) page bill was instroduced to be voted on within two days. Then, one day later, 300 pages of amendments were ADDED to the bill, issued at 3 AM for vote that same day! The amendments were not even integrated into the bill. It was 300 sheets of errata and addendums (“on page 297, paragraph two, strike XXXXX and add YYYY”). Is that insane or what?

    Were such a scheme ever actually to become law it would be a sickening cauldron of corruption and political favors. Kevin N. is right. If we are going to insist on destroying our economy by punitively taxing its very life blood, then go with a direct carbon tax. And, at least offset that tax by matching reductions of other taxes.

  • DonS

    This bill WILL die in the Senate, thank goodness. Historians will look back on this travesty as the high water mark of the Pelosi Congress. This was her baby and she was bound and determined to ram it through before the 4th of July. No matter that it promised to fundamentally change our economy and way of life for generations — a 1,000 (!!!) page bill was instroduced to be voted on within two days. Then, one day later, 300 pages of amendments were ADDED to the bill, issued at 3 AM for vote that same day! The amendments were not even integrated into the bill. It was 300 sheets of errata and addendums (“on page 297, paragraph two, strike XXXXX and add YYYY”). Is that insane or what?

    Were such a scheme ever actually to become law it would be a sickening cauldron of corruption and political favors. Kevin N. is right. If we are going to insist on destroying our economy by punitively taxing its very life blood, then go with a direct carbon tax. And, at least offset that tax by matching reductions of other taxes.

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Sure, all politicians bent on income redistribution will make claims of “revenue neutral” policies. How quickly this will become a means of favouritism and wealth redistribution. It will also hit the poorest of N.Americans where it hurts: in travelling to work by car and heating their homes. What we need is a little more law preaching on the 10th commandment.
    CL

  • Crypto-Lutheran

    Sure, all politicians bent on income redistribution will make claims of “revenue neutral” policies. How quickly this will become a means of favouritism and wealth redistribution. It will also hit the poorest of N.Americans where it hurts: in travelling to work by car and heating their homes. What we need is a little more law preaching on the 10th commandment.
    CL

  • Dan Kempin

    Lisa #7,

    That was a stirring monologue. I may be late to respond, but I a applauding.

  • Dan Kempin

    Lisa #7,

    That was a stirring monologue. I may be late to respond, but I a applauding.

  • Dan Kempin

    *I AM applauding!

  • Dan Kempin

    *I AM applauding!

  • wayne pelling

    I hope it dies in your Senate ,because our climate change minister-an imperia;ist on this issue- is citing as a triumph the fact that the Bill got passed. I think she jumped the gun because our conservative parliamentarians are watching to see its progression ,and they will decide either to vote for or Emissions Trading Scheme Bill or not. Our Bill has been poorly constructed and the parliamentary draftsmen were perhaps rushed in drawing it up.

  • wayne pelling

    I hope it dies in your Senate ,because our climate change minister-an imperia;ist on this issue- is citing as a triumph the fact that the Bill got passed. I think she jumped the gun because our conservative parliamentarians are watching to see its progression ,and they will decide either to vote for or Emissions Trading Scheme Bill or not. Our Bill has been poorly constructed and the parliamentary draftsmen were perhaps rushed in drawing it up.

  • Carl Vehse

    As long as we elect senators like this, looney legislation will flow through Congress like you-know-what in a dysentery ward.

    From a http://community.detnews.com/apps/blogs/henrypayneblog/index.php?blogid=2041“>Detroit News article:

    [I]n an interview with the Detroit News Monday, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) – recently appointed to the Senate Energy Committee – made clear that fighting the climate crisis is her top priority.

    “Climate change is very real. Global warming creates volatility. I feel it when I’m flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes.”

  • Carl Vehse

    As long as we elect senators like this, looney legislation will flow through Congress like you-know-what in a dysentery ward.

    From a http://community.detnews.com/apps/blogs/henrypayneblog/index.php?blogid=2041“>Detroit News article:

    [I]n an interview with the Detroit News Monday, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) – recently appointed to the Senate Energy Committee – made clear that fighting the climate crisis is her top priority.

    “Climate change is very real. Global warming creates volatility. I feel it when I’m flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes.”


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