Energizing Cap and Trade Discussions – Part 2 (The “Con” Argument)

Nearly all people agree protecting the environment is critical to our continued prosperity and health. However there are arguments on how to best approach legislation that would either regulate or offer guidance on controlling pollutants and waste.

On the Cap and Trade issue, which is part of the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act (H.R. 2454, or “Waxman-Markey”, most of the arguments are related to the potential high financial cost of reducing carbon dioxide. Those critical of H.R. 2454 list many reasons to reject the bill, with some of the highlights including:

  • Huge increases in the cost of gasoline (due to higher taxes)
  • US jobs will be lost
  • The bill will not reduce our reliance on foreign energy
  • Similar efforts in Europe have not been successful (under debate)
  • Potential to lose control of carbon credits in open trading markets
  • Does not force electric utilities using fossil fuels to re-engineer with technology that would reduce carbon
  • Economies in coal-producing states could be devastated
  • The American people would pay the full price of Cap and Trade with personal tax and cost hits of nearly $2000/year per family (Spectator.Org)
  • Belief that global warming due to greenhouse gases is a fantasy

While it is clear much of the debate is based on politics and corporate special interest lobbying, a couple of the above points do justify further study and discussion. The most compelling argument may be the high cost of carbon credits being passed down to individuals, as well as the potential impact on jobs and local economies as fossil fuel-producing industries are forced to either re-engineer, or scale back operations.

The Politics of Carbon

Political action organizations have always been part of American politics. For those of us who frequently do research over the Internet, it is important to keep in mind a pretty web page can be a simple façade that will be easily accepted as fact, but in fact be well-prepared propaganda from a source aggressively trying to influence a reader to their point of view.

If you read a newspaper, such as the LA Times or Washington Post, you have a reasonable expectation the publication will provide a representation of events that will factually inform the reader on the topic or event. Editors go to great pain ensuring facts are checked prior to committing a story to print, as the reputation of the journalist, editor, and publication are at stake.

When we learn a journalist has misrepresented or presented facts in error, it generally results in an additional news story with a public explanation by both the editor and publication on the hows and whys of the error, and what they are doing to prevent future errors.

The Internet does not regulate web sites at the same level as mainstream news publications. A website on the Internet claiming to be a legitimate news outlet may in reality be a facade for a political action group, or other organization trying to influence thought through propaganda or other thought controls.

In the debate over Cap and Trade, global warming, greenhouse gas effect, and other issues down to whale harvesting, both sides of the debate will present their arguments as fact, but when you peel off the façade you will discover the information being presented is provided by an organization aggressively providing their own thought leadership.

For example, the website energytomorrow.org has a great home page. American flags flying, the impression of patriotism, and a call to action on web pages filled with facts provided by,… well, the American Petroleum Institute. The American Petroleum Institute (API):

is the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Our 400 corporate members, from the largest major oil company to the smallest of independents, come from all segments of the industry. They are producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators and marine transporters, as well as service and supply companies that support all segments of the industry. (http://energytomorrow.org/About/)

If the Cap and Trade bill is passed, and as the bill is written places much of the burden of carbon reporting and reduction on the “upstream” end of energy production and consumption, then the API will likely have to pay a large percentage of the price to re-engineer our energy industries. This can be translated as “lower profits.”

However the home page is filled with facts, which are backed by other groups such as the Heritage Foundation, which has the taglin on their very patriotic website as The Heritage Foundation, conservative policy research since 1973.

In All Fairness…

In part 3 of this series we will look at the Pro side of the Cap and Trade issue. The pro side will have equally aggressive propaganda to support their side of the debate. Much of it based on information provided through less than factual journalistic sources.

And it is reasonable to expect the average American will pay a price for carbon reduction in our lifetimes. A price that will help bring legislation and controls which will clean the environment, lessen our probability of health problems due to pollution, and quite possibly have a positive impact on slowing down the process of global warming through reduction of greenhouse gases.

LA Skyline via Telephoto from Long BeachIt is also true that if we blindly accept either side of the debate, we will run a high risk of accepting a solution that is dished up by a special interest group, and may not fully consider all aspects of either the issue or the proposed solutions. So bring on the debate.

A Call to Action, Part 2

This issue will affect all Americans, and all other residents of our planet. We all need to learn more about both the cons, and the pros of the Cap and Trade issue, carbon, greenhouse gasses, energy production and science – it will affect all of us and future generations. Learn, and then relentlessly go after your elected representatives with your opinions, and even better your suggestions to help solve and deal with the issue.

Looking out over the Port of Long Beach and the LA Basin, and seeing (or not seeing) the levels of pollution in the air, not being able to see Catalina Island this afternoon, barely being able to see the LA skyline – well, that is a fact. We residents of the LA area and Southern California have the right and obligation to be aware and knowledgeable.

John Savageau, Long Beach

About johnsavageau
Another telecom junkie who has been bouncing around the international communications community for most of the past 35 years.

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