Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Candidates for Congress Differ on Cap and Trade

As the News Journal reports, Delaware's congressional candidates differ sharply on cap and trade proposals to reduce carbon emissions. The article doesn't just report the controversy, but provides some useful background, as when it correctly points out that the market based approach was put in place to cut SO2 emissions under the first President Bush. As Tom Carper says, that approach worked:
"The emissions reductions were achieved for sulfur dioxide in about half the time anticipated, for about one-fifth the cost," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who has sponsored several bills to cut smog, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions over the years.
This is what makes cap and trade so attractive; it harnesses market mechanisms to seek out the most cost effective ways to reduce emissions.

Mike Castle's vote for the Waxman-Markey bill last year is often mentioned as one reasons conservatives voted against him in the Republican primary. Christine O'Donnell and Glen Urquhart oppose cap and trade, saying it would increase energy costs and not produce any benefit. Chris Coons is reported as being willing to support a cap and trade system, while John Carney is on record as supporting the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) developed by Delaware and nine other states.

According to the News Journal, conservatives are calling for Delaware to pull out of the program, though the governor's office hasn't exactly seen a groundswell of opposition:
Brian Selander, Markell's chief spokesman, said he was unaware of any calls to pull the plug on RGGI.
"There's not been a strong call for the state to abandon this initiative, probably because Delaware benefits from it," Selander said. "The initiative has helped create jobs, reduce energy use and allows consumers to save money -- and will hopefully continue to do so in the future."
Delaware has already raised millions for clean energy investments through RGGI, with a negligible effect on energy costs. We saw the same argument during the wind power debate, when opponents offered wildly inflated cost projections and dismissed the economic and environmental benefits. Chris Coons and John Carney are both pretty wonky guys who will not let fear overwhelm careful analysis of the costs and benefits of reducing carbon emissions.

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