Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dire Warnings about Environmental Controls

Dave Anderson at DelawarePolitics.net warns that the proposed new auto fuel standards "could be the beginning of the end of American Prosperity."
Oddly, the New York Times reports that auto execs don't seem so alarmed:
Auto industry officials said it would provide the single national efficiency standard they have long desired, a reasonable timetable to meet it and the certainty they need to proceed with product development plans.
As hard as it may seem for free market fundamentalists, auto execs seem to welcome a consistent, predictable standard they can use for planning and developing their products. New vehicles are expensive to design and build, and prolonged uncertainty about standards would increase costs and force auto companies to delay basic decisions about new products until well into the development cycle.
But the mistaken belief that environmental benefits invariably come at an economic cost runs deep. Happily, more and more decision makers understand just how wrong this fallacy is. Joe Biden spoke directly to this point two weeks ago here in Delaware:
We've reached that point, as I said earlier, that inflection point where jobs, economic growth, and the environment are the same shade of green, Gov.
The Gov gets it. Jack Markell spoke of new economic opportunities in his state of the state speech:
Talking about the green economy is easy. Capitalizing on the opportunities it represents is not, because few if any states have really figured it out yet. The state which most effectively marshals its resources in support of an intelligent strategy is likely to reap real dividends.
I have been making the point that the view that "the public’s environmental interest is in conflict with the public’s economic interest" is outdated from the beginning of the debate on wind power.
Biden and Markell are politicians, and I'm an environmental activist. What do industry leaders think? Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, made a similar point when he came to Delaware three years ago:
GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who spoke last night at the Carper Roundtable, remarked that changing views on energy and the environment make for "surprising bedfellows" among NGOs and business.
Then there is Duke Energy, which recently quit the National Association of Manufacturers over climate change:
Duke Energy Corp. has parted ways with the National Association of Manufacturers, in part over the organization’s opposition to a cap-and-trade approach to carbon legislation.
...
Duke is a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. That industry group has proposed carbon regulation and called for the kind of cap-and-trade system now being considered by the U.S. Congress — and opposed by NAM.
If you go to USCAP's website, you will learn the organization is populated by environmental extremists like Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Chrysler, ConocoPhillips, Deere & Company, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Exelon, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, NRG, PepsiCo and Xerox Corporation. Evidently, these industrial giants, including the automakers, believe that acting to prevent climate change will not be bad for business.
Here's what DuPont chairman Chad Holliday said about proposed cap and trade legislation in a USCAP release last month:
"I believe that this may be the single greatest opportunity to reinvent American industry, putting us on a more sustainable path forward," said Charles Holliday, Jr. Chairman of DuPont. "A federal climate program has the potential to create real economic growth through innovation."

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