New EPA project: Cap-and-trade simulator

posted at 11:46 am on May 12, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

If you’re wondering what a second term for Barack Obama might mean, look no further than the EPA.  According to the publication Inside EPA, the agency has created a simulator for a cap-and-trade system, a rather extensive project that doesn’t appear to just be theoretical.  It’s not exactly a secret, either.  Enterprising citizens who want to check EPA assumptions on coal and carbon trading can download the software and install it on their own computers, straight from the EPA’s website, although you’ll need a network with multiple computers to do so:

The Cap & Trade Simulation (“the simulation”) is a tool that provides you an opportunity to put the theory of cap and trade into practice. In the simulation, you (or your team) act as an environmental compliance officer at an electric power plant located in the fictitious country of Ecoland. Your job is to develop a compliance strategy that will allow your facility to meet the emission limits (or cap) while still generating enough electricity to meet customer demand. You can employ various techniques such as switching fuels, installing emission controls, shifting electricity generation between generating units, adding new generating units, investing in demand-side electricity conservation programs, and/or purchasing emission allowances from other facilities.

There are two cap-and-trade scenarios available in this simulation: 1) a program to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions that contribute to acid rain and fine particle pollution; or 2) a program to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that contribute to climate change. No actual allowances are traded and all of the “companies” featured in the simulation are fictitious. The data used in the simulation are based on real-world situations, but do not reflect or influence the current allowance trading markets.

It’s not exactly Space Invaders or Sim City, is it?  If you want to skip playing around in “Ecoland,”, you can just download the documentation, which includes a “facilitator’s guide”:

This Facilitator’s Guide provides more in-depth information about the simulation and how it functions. It also provides information to help you lead the simulation in a classroom or conference setting as well as details about how to modify the simulation. The guide is organized into an introduction, instructions for using the simulator in a classroom or conference setting, frequently asked questions, topics for further discussion, and additional resources about cap & trade programs.

That sounds less like a fun way to blow off an afternoon and more like a strategy to start pushing hard for a cap-and-trade system.  The page was most recently updated on Thursday, May 10th; the documentation was created in March.  Yet nowhere in Obama’s campaign lit on energy does he mention support for a cap and trade system, probably due to his need to get votes in coal-economy states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and others.

So what does this new Ecoland simulator from Obama’s EPA actually demonstrate?  According to Inside EPA, it shows that a carbon-trading system raises prices quickly, cuts electricity production, and in general could signal a death knell for the US economy:

When Inside EPA ran the simulator it showed that investments in carbon capture and other CO2 reduction options routinely cut into a power company’s profit margins, while also reducing electricity generation — arguments that would appear to echo critics of CO2 trading for utilities who warn of adverse impacts on the power sector. …

When Inside EPA tried the simulator, a reporter operated the fictional Periwinkle Point Power company, subject to the Ecoland government’s mandate to cut CO2 emissions 15 percent by 2014, with long-term cuts of 10 percent annually. Excess emissions above the cap would trigger a $68 penalty per ton and one future trading allowance…

…Despite the fluctuations in finances, one fact remained constant: even with renewable sites added to its portfolio, the steps Periwinkle Point Power took to comply with a CO2 cap meant it was failing to meet demand. The company was producing 9,724 GWh compared to a demand of 15,374 GWh.

That’s a shortfall of 36.8%, the kind of gap would make energy prices skyrocket, as Obama promised in January 2008.  It would mean that businesses couldn’t afford to expand, which would cut capital equipment sales, and also kill the engine of job creation — small businesses, which need lower entry costs to even begin operations.  Food prices, which are dependent on energy costs, would rapidly rise, burning through whatever disposable income was left after paying the electrical and gas bills.  In short, we’d be capping our future and trading it for brownouts, energy rationing, and poverty.

Welcome to Obama’s second term of office.

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Quotes, A War Against Humanity:
“The planet is about to break out with fever, indeed it may already have, and we [humans] are the disease. We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles.” –Thomas Lovejoy, Smithsonian Institution
“The only real good technology is no technology at all. ” -John Shuttleworth, Mother Earth News
“An ecocatastrophe is taking place on earth…..discipline, prohibition, enforcement and oppression are the only solution. [And those most responsible should] be sent to the mountains for re-education in eco-gulags… The sole glimmer of hope lies in a centralised government and the tireless control of citizens.” — Pentti Linkila, Finnish Eco-Activist
“It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves.” — George Monbiot, British Ecoloon
“Entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.” – Neol Brown (1989), ex UN Environment Program Director

anotherJoe on May 13, 2012 at 2:33 PM

I saw Jackson on the TV news this week, and I was suprised at what a dimwit she sounded like. Little Bammie looks cerebral by comparison.

slickwillie2001 on May 13, 2012 at 3:58 PM

If we don’t vote Obama out we will deserve what happens. The future will tell of the terrible fraud of Global Warming and how stupid we were to let this happen.

2012chuck on May 13, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Real sea level rise is 1.7 mm/yr. So tiny as to present no problem. And sea level rise has gone flat in recent years.

Wrong. Look at the stats.

And, sea level rises of 2 mm/year (in many cases, far more), are not inconsequential. Of course, the massive melt in sea ice is not reflected in those rises.

oakland on May 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Wrong. Look at the stats.

And, sea level rises of 2 mm/year (in many cases, far more), are not inconsequential. Of course, the massive melt in sea ice is not reflected in those rises.

oakland on May 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM

It is actually falling in many places. So in order to get the average there are going to be places where the rise is faster. It has very little to do with increases in the amount of water in the ocean, so much as changes in density caused by thermal expansion and contraction. The ice in the Himalayas is expanding and increasing in mass. As is Iceland and Antarctica at the moment.

People with tiny brains get stuck on stupid looking at tiny propaganda items. You probably imagine the polar bear is endangered, despite the fact populations have increased from 12,000 to over 25,000 in the last 50 years.

astonerii on May 13, 2012 at 5:30 PM

And, sea level rises of 2 mm/year (in many cases, far more), are not inconsequential. Of course, the massive melt in sea ice is not reflected in those rises.

oakland on May 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Where you been? I see you are still drinking the koolaid. Good to see astonerii put you back in your place. No the world is not in danger…I realize you get off on that fear but it is not true.

CW on May 13, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Of course, the massive melt in sea ice is not reflected in those rises.

oakland on May 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM

You do realize that the melting of sea ice would lower sea level, right? When water freezes into ice, it EXPANDS… which is why it floats. Water is one of the few substances that do this.

dominigan on May 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM