Americans inclined to support President Obama’s health care overhaul might want to first look at the so-called “cap-and-trade” legislation passed by the House of Representatives with the president’s support.
Its 1,200 pages must rank among the most complex and convoluted pieces of legislation ever devised, making old, Soviet-style government edicts appear streamlined by comparison.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the last formal effort Washington undertook to mandate comprehensive energy usage, was a novice compared to the heavy-handed, global-oriented approach by Obama and his Democratic colleagues in the House. Where Carter, a generation ago, was content to turn down the thermostat and lecture the country while wearing a cardigan sweater in front of a warmly glowing fireplace, Obama uses 21st-century communications tools and offers to change not just America’s energy system, but the entire world’s — with taxpayer dollars by the trillions.
The regulatory behemoth that would be unleashed by the cap-and-trade legislation, if it were to become law, starts with a group of “experts” deciding how much carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” the earth’s atmosphere can withstand. These then become the “targets” that bad-guy emitters (such as manufacturing plants) would have to meet by “buying” annual “emission permits” from Uncle Sam or on the secondary market. They could trade — that is, buy and sell — their permits to meet their target or cap; hence the term, “cap-and-trade.” The number of permits drops annually until a “safe” level of emissions is reached.
Some 85 percent of the initial offering of permits would be given to certain favored industries, states and Indian tribes. These entities, of course, could then trade them to other “polluters.” All this would be monitored and enforced by government bureaucrats.
As if this scenario would not be enough to make your eyes roll and your hands rush to grab your wallet and hold it near, there is yet another bureaucratic overlay nestled in the legislation . The bill establishes a mechanism for “polluters” to obtain two billion “offsets” that would allow them to emit more greenhouse gasses than their permits would otherwise allow. These “offsets” consist of paying for “green projects” in the U.S. or — get this — somewhere else on the globe.
Thus, a manufacturing plant in, say, Gary, Ind., that is exceeding its “permitted” expulsion of CO2, could continue to commit this sin against humanity by paying for a Brazilian farmer to plant some trees in the rain forest. A more patriotic company might achieve the same result by paying an Iowa former to implement more “Earth-friendly” farming practices. Of course, to guard against some nefarious polluter trying to cheat Uncle Sam and the world by claiming bogus “offsets,” there must be a monitoring mechanism. Enter the “Offsets Integrity Advisory Board” — yet another group of scientific “experts” that would be tasked with compiling a list of qualifying offsets around the globe.
Utility companies would be required to purchase increasing percentages of their electricity from “renewable sources,” but they could meet these mandates, at least in part, by forcing their customers to reduce their energy usage. Those customers — that is, every individual, family and business in the country — also would be forced to change building codes in order to use less energy, change lighting systems employed in homes and outdoor areas, and buy more expensive “energy-efficient” appliances.
This discussion barely scratches the surface of the Byzantine system of mandates and favors that would be doled out by the government if this legislation reaches Obama’s desk. The cost is impossible to calculate, except to know it will be in the trillions of dollars. For a plan based on bad science and proposing to implement a model that’s already failed in Europe, that’s a price no responsible American ought to accept. But, how can you put a pricetag on saving the world and all of mankind?