Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Satellites and Speeches

This week, a satellite designed to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere crashed shortly after take off. Last night, President Obama included a request for legislation on carbon emissions. Nothing specific was stated from what I heard in the speech but there are only two possibilities; cap-and-trade or carbon tax.

The satellite and the speech are related. Without the satellite it will be difficult to verify what amount of CO2 is being released or if the levels are coming down. How can a system of cap-and-trade be verifiable without some measurement? That leaves a carbon tax more viable because, from my understanding, it would be applied at source before the CO2 is emitted. What better way to cut the deficit in half in 4 years than with a carbon tax. Not that I find anything wrong with a carbon tax but I feel that it will be more of a business policy rather than an environmental one because of the current state of the economy. A carbon tax may be used as a protectionist measure and it will be heavily lobbied to include so many exemptions and special cases that the basic impact will be consumers pay more for everything and that's it. Cap-and-trade also has room for watering down. If 2009 is used as a base year that will reduce the amount available as industrial output has greatly declined. Will there be any regulations on a secondary emissions market or will it grow to a bubble too? Who will have to buy permits and will they be bought every year from the government? Looks like another revenue stream.

I'm not trying to be cynical but I would rather have policy presented honestly and in relation to everything that is going on around us.

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