The Dernogalizer

July 17, 2009

Governor O’Malley’s good Op-Ed

I’ve asserted that I have some problems with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.  Many of his growth policies are killing the Chesapeake Bay, the ICC highway he didn’t stop is going to contribute a lot of greenhouse gases, and he’s raided very dollars he talks about in his op-ed that were supposed to go to energy efficiency, but went to rate relief.  All that said, I’m one to give credit were credit is due, and Governor O’Malley had a very good column out a couple dayhe s ago about how cap and trade can work at the Federal level because it’s working in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiatve(RGGI), which Maryland is a part of.  I’m posting the column below.

America’s First Global Warming Cap and Trade Program Is Working, and Here’s Why

By Martin O’Malley

Posted July 14, 2009

Martin OMalley is governor of the state of Maryland.

As the debate over energy independence, climate change, and “green jobs” heats up this summer, Congress and the American public should take note one of the most significant accomplishments related to climate change to date and some of the lessons we’ve learned. In September 2008, 10 northeastern states, including Maryland, launched the United States’s first greenhouse gas “cap and trade system”—and it is working.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative requires carbon-producing power plants to purchase one allowance for each ton of carbon they emit. Each state auctions a share of allowances quarterly. The goal is reduced carbon emissions. How is carbon reduced? In two ways: First, the number of allowances decreases over time, so by 2018 we collectively reduce carbon from these power plants—a major source of greenhouse gases—by 10 percent. Second, proceeds from the sale of these allowances are plowed back into consumer benefits: energy efficiency programs, renewable energy, technology development, rate relief, and other programs that benefit energy consumers and create “green jobs.”

The result? Energy conservation and development of alternative energy is being funded at historically high levels—a commitment by this country that is long overdue. These include projects to weatherize low-income homes, hire and train energy auditors, deploy combined heat and power and district heating and cooling systems, subsidize energy efficiency improvement programs for small businesses, and educate contractors about energy efficiency and other initiatives.

Green jobs are clearly a key part of our future: The Pew Charitable Trust reported in June that the number of jobs in America’s emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007. In Maryland, we have set a goal of creating at least 100,000 green jobs by 2015.

The No. 1 goal of this voluntary effort between Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont has always been to show that a market based cap and trade system can work. How do we know its working? Utilities that need allowances have robustly bid in the four auctions of allowances to date. A healthy secondary market for allowances has emerged. This all points to the markets’ recognition that this is a viable program with a foregone conclusion—America must reduce its carbon emissions. To date, $366.5 million in RGGI proceeds—earned in less than one year—have been generated for clean energy, energy conservation, and rate relief.

There are some key differences between this program and what’s being proposed in Washington. The regional initiative regulates electricity generated by fossil fuels, where federal legislation covers other sectors as well. And the regional program is entirely a market-based system, with auctions of over 90 percent of allowances; proposed federal legislation will auction 15 percent of allowances. While we work on these important features of federal climate and energy policy, let’s keep what is most important at the fore.

As the U.S. Senate looks to build on work already done in the House of Representatives to secure national energy independence, create a sustainable energy future, reduce the threat of climate change, and create net benefits for electricity consumers, let’s look hard at what’s already working. The states in the Northeast have proven it can be done. In these times of great challenges, we have to be willing to embrace the new economy—and to act now for that more sustainable future all of us prefer.

Let’s also learn from our experience. Cap and trade is a proven, efficient, market-based approach to solving one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.

June 1, 2009

Poor Post Op-Ed

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:13 pm
Tags: , , ,

There’s a very primitive article written by Martin Feldstein, a professor of Economics at Harvard, which is interesting since I thought they had standards regarding who taught at their institution.  To see a real analysis of cap and trade by a professor of Economics at Harvard that actually uses the degree earned for the position, see HERE.  I’m going to make a few quick points below about how poor this column is by taking his paragraphs and providing real context to them.

“The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have proposed a major cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Scientists agree that CO2 emissions around the world could lead to rising temperatures with serious long-term environmental consequences. But that is not a reason to enact a U.S. cap-and-trade system until there is a global agreement on CO2 reduction. The proposed legislation would have a trivially small effect on global warming while imposing substantial costs on all American households. And to get political support in key states, the legislation would abandon the auctioning of permits in favor of giving permits to selected corporations.”

Only the first 2 sentences is right.  Yes there’s a proposed system, and yes emissions will lead to serious consequences.  However not just environmental consequences, also economic and national security harms as well.  So there’s a problem, but…we should wait for a global agreement.  It looks like Feldstein has just taken us back to the delayer strategy from 12 years ago with Kyoto.  That was a brilliant idea.  Do nothing and set action back a good 10 years.  While an auction is preferable, the notion that all the permits are being given to corporations is a false one.  Once again look at the analysis by the real Harvard economist here.

“The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that the resulting increases in consumer prices needed to achieve a 15 percent CO2 reduction — slightly less than the Waxman-Markey target — would raise the cost of living of a typical household by $1,600 a year. Some expert studies estimate that the cost to households could be substantially higher. The future cost to the typical household would rise significantly as the government reduces the total allowable amount of CO2.”

Wrong!  Once again severe dishonesty.  This is under the assumption that 100% of the permits are auctioned off, and that none of the money is returned to consumers.  However, 80% of the allowances in in some way allocated back to consumers.  An EPA analysis actually takes into account the allocations and lump-sum rebates being given back to consumers through local distribution company allowances pegs the cost to be on average $90-150 a year.  It’s also worth noting that because electricity prices will go up, consumption will go down, but consumers will get rebated for the higher prices separate from electricity costs.  This means energy consumption will fall, energy conservation will rise, and the cost to consumers may end up being negligible.

“Americans should ask themselves whether this annual tax of $1,600-plus per family is justified by the very small resulting decline in global CO2. Since the U.S. share of global CO2 production is now less than 25 percent (and is projected to decline as China and other developing nations grow), a 15 percent fall in U.S. CO2 output would lower global CO2 output by less than 4 percent. Its impact on global warming would be virtually unnoticeable. The U.S. should wait until there is a global agreement on CO2 that includes China and India before committing to costly reductions in the United States.”

Oh and the whole we alone will not solve global warming, so therefore we must do nothing argument.  Well..if we want a U.S. China deal, or to capitalize on Russia’s new stance, then we might want to be able to bring something to the table so we can get a global deal.  Yes I might just be 1 out of millions of Americans, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make environmentally conscious decisions just because my neighbors aren’t.  Lead by example.

“The CBO estimates that the sale of the permits for a 15 percent CO2 reduction would raise revenue of about $80 billion a year over the next decade. It is remarkable, then, that the Waxman-Markey bill would give away some 85 percent of the permits over the next 20 years to various businesses instead of selling them at auction. The price of the permits and the burden to households would be the same whether the permits are sold or given away. But by giving them away the government would not collect the revenue that could, at least in principle, be used to offset some of the higher cost to households.  The Waxman-Markey bill would give away 30 percent of the permits to local electricity distribution companies with the expectation that their regulators would require those firms to pass the benefit on to their customers. If they do this by not raising prices, there would be less CO2 reduction through lower electricity consumption. The permit price would then have to be higher to achieve more CO2 reduction on all other products. Some electricity consumers would benefit, but the cost to all other American families would be higher.”

Once again, you’re misrepresenting the permit allocation, and how the burden to households if affected by rebates given back to them.  See HERE.

“In my judgment, the proposed cap-and-trade system would be a costly policy that would penalize Americans with little effect on global warming. The proposal to give away most of the permits only makes a bad idea worse. Taxpayers and legislators should keep these things in mind before enacting any cap-and-trade system.”

This isn’t judgement.  Judgement weights facts.  Nevermind that there’s absolutely no mention of the job creating potential of green investments.  Nevermind the value of getting off of foreign oil.  Nevermind the value a stable livable climate.  Nevermind energy savings from conservation.  Go back and get your degree checked.

**Update** 6/2/09** Joe Romm of Climate Progess has a very insightful post on this column.  The best part which I’m coping here adds light to the $ cost stated in the op-ed.

“But what about the claim the CBO recently estimated that “the resulting increases in consumer prices needed to achieve a 15 percent CO2 reduction — slightly less than the Waxman-Markey target”?  Well, that was based on a 2000 analysis of a 15% cut from 1998 levels, quite different than Waxman-Markey.  And that study didn’t model the aggressive clean energy deployment strategies that Congress and Obama have advanced in the stimulus and the climate bill.  And that study was at a time of low prices whereas the reality of high oil prices again makes any target much easier and cheaper to meet.”

**Update 6/3/09** Economist Paul Krugman has also trashed Feldstein’s column.

**Update 6/7/09** A good letter to the editor in the post responding to this column.

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