One of James Bond’s first movies captured attention with the title “License to Kill.” Today, Washington, D.C., is setting the stage to compete with Hollywood in the sensational headlines market. Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are in the process of scripting climate change legislation worthy of being titled “License to Cheat and Steal.”
This cap-and-trade bill — actually called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, or the Waxman-Markey bill — would mandate severe reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Since emissions are mostly generated by energy use (heating your home, cooling your groceries, driving to work, etc.), these targets would effectively mandate energy rationing. Since these targets are not based on economic or technological realities, there can only be one outcome: much higher energy prices.
Severe limitations on emissions could easily turn well-intentioned policy into an opportunity for shady moneymaking schemes at the expense of the environment and American households.
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Research indicates that implementation of a U.S. emissions market could drive up energy costs for Americans anywhere from $324 to a whopping $3,100 per year. And because low-income families spend a greater percentage of their earnings on energy, this burden would fall heaviest on those least able to afford it.
In contrast, the financial benefits would be enjoyed by Wall Street opportunists and special-interest groups. The government-regulated trade of carbon dioxide opens the door to the creation of risky financial tools like the derivatives, hedges and credit default swaps that led to our recent economic crisis and the scandals associated with it.