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For Immediate Release: Sep 21, 2009
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

OBAMA GOES TO UN WITH EMPTY CLIMATE BAG

New Video Frames Fundamental Weaknesses of Cap & Trade Approach


Washington, DC — On the eve of President Obama’s address to the United Nations climate summit, a new video by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency experts challenges the efficacy of the President’s plan for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. The video adds to growing scientific and economic skepticism about relying upon cap & trade schemes for addressing climate change, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The video, entitled “The Huge Mistake,” by Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, two EPA enforcement attorneys (speaking as private citizens), explains why the cap & trade plan endorsed by President Obama will not accomplish its goals, let alone effectively curb climate change, for reasons that include –

  • Cap & trade for climate change in Europe produced few greenhouse gas reductions. Instead it raised energy prices for consumers and made billions in windfall profits for utilities;
  • To keep cap & trade cheap, Congress’s climate plan would allow the first approximately 17 years of proposed greenhouse gas reductions (2 billion tons per year) to be satisfied with a combination of domestic and international carbon offsets. This offset program will create perverse economic incentives that make it even harder to control greenhouse gas emissions. Significantly, the Acid Rain Program, the model on which this plan is supposed to be based, allowed no offsets; and.
  • It is virtually impossible to certify or verify that the offsets will result in real additional reductions. The video notes, among other problems, that “since the most flawed offsets are generally cheapest, they will be most in demand.”

“Carbon offsets may make sub-prime mortgages look like prudent investments,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that previous EPA attempts at open-ended emission trading collapsed due to the inability to verify the validity of credits given out under the programs. “It is like trading an apple for the unenforceable promise of a planting an apple tree someday.”

Williams and Zabel argue that the “biggest obstacle to successfully addressing climate change is that uncontrolled fossil-fuel energy is a lot cheaper than clean energy.” They urge steps to ensure “that clean energy becomes cost-competitive with uncontrolled fossil fuels within a known time-frame” while making sure that “the energy people need remains affordable.” The two urge a system of carbon fees that has also been endorsed by the eminent NASA climate scientist James Hansen.

“As worldwide political pressure mounts on the U.S., which emits one-quarter of the planet’s greenhouses gases, to act, the danger is that the politically palatable displaces what is environmentally effective,” Ruch added. “Hopefully, this video will be widely seen and debated.”

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Watch the new video

Why Waxman-Markey won’t work

Look at cap & trade’s poor track record in U.S.