If Congress holds a pork barbecue, do they need to apply for carbon credits? Politico reports that the Lieberman-Warner bill currently under debate represents the biggest opportunity in recent memory for lobbyists to carve out pork-barrel projects and other set-asides as the government prepares to take over the energy industry. And if this Super Bowl turns out to be a bust, the next one may take place during a presidency that won’t threaten a veto:
The climate change legislation being debated now in the Senate is the Super Bowl for lobbyists, roping in everyone from Alaskan Inupiaqs to venture capitalists.
“We’re only this far because of the array of citizen groups, business, labor, environmentalists, religious communities, hunters, anglers, you could go on,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) told reporters on Capitol Hill. “It’s this mighty force rising out from the American public.” …
Depending on how Congress eventually deals with global warming, the outcome will inevitably hurt some companies while creating significant new markets for others.
Sponsored by Lieberman and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), the measure would cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 70 percent by 2050. It mandates a trading system, known as cap and trade, that would allow companies to purchase carbon credits through an auction process. The bill also provides billions of dollars in subsidies for conservation and environmentally clean technologies.
Business is pushing for various carve-outs. Real estate groups, for example, are backing an amendment allowing a portion of the carbon credits to be given to building owners who improve the efficiency of their properties.
In other words, dinner is served!
Whenever the federal government decides to regulate an industry, it opens up myriad possibilities for pork and corruption. Seeing people run to this porkfest should surprise no one, and neither should we be shocked to see Congress open to the idea of even more regulation and rationing. It expands federal power, which expands the opportunities to build personal power for each and every member of Congress. And it does all of this without delivering anything more than what we have already accomplished on carbon emissions over the last seven years, when we outstripped the EU in the pace of improvements.
Government expansion comes in many forms and in many motivations, some of them noble. We must feed the poor! We must save the Earth from its “fever”! In the end, the only thing fed is the government bureaucracies that eat up all the resources, and the only fever is the delirium that the same government that runs the IRS and the VA could possibly do better than competitive-market solutions for the same goals.
Supporters of Lieberman-Warner want people to believe that it provides a market solution with cap-and-trade. Don’t buy it. It forces government rationing of CO2 emissions, and then creates a “market” for ration stamps. Anything government rations, it controls. And anything government controls, it creates massive bureaucracies to run, and massive regulation to enforce.
Even its supporters don’t believe this bill will make it into law this year. With gas prices soaring, the escalation of energy prices that would result from this legislation makes it politically unpalatable for too many constituencies, and George Bush still wields the veto pen. Next year, that won’t be the case.