Conflict of interest on cap and trade?

Fox News implies this morning that Barack Obama may have a conflict of interest in pushing his cap-and-trade policies.  Obama helped create and get funding for the Chicago Climate Exchange in 2000-1 while working on the Joyce Foundation, voting to approve over a million dollars in start-up funding.  But is that a conflict of interest, or just a track record of consistency?

In 2000 and 2001, while Barack Obama served as a board member for a Chicago-based charitable foundation, he helped to fund a pioneering carbon trading exchange that is likely to fill a critical role in the controversial cap-and-trade carbon reduction scheme that President Obama is now trying to push rapidly through Congress.

During those two years, the Joyce Foundation gave nearly $1.1 million in two separate grants that were instrumental in developing and launching the privately-owned Chicago Climate Exchange, which now calls itself “North America’s only cap and trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide.”

One of those gases is carbon dioxide, the most ubiquitous greenhouse gas and the focus of the most far-reaching — and contentious — efforts to combat “climate change.” On Monday, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide a public health threat.

Is that a conflict of interest?  It might have been for Paula DiPerna, the foundation’s president in 2000 when the first of the grants went to the CCE in its start-up phase.  DiPerna left Joyce to run CCE afterwards.  If the donors to the Joyce Foundation have any complaint — which they apparently don’t — it could have been over DiPerna’s move.

I expect this to get a lot of play in the conservative blogosphere, but I don’t see a conflict of interest or any particular issue.  Obama worked on carbon-trading schemes as a member of a charitable foundation, and now he wants to impose carbon trading as President.   I think the former is useless and the latter is dangerous, but his experience at Joyce doesn’t disqualify him from pushing those policies, especially since (a) he didn’t make them a secret during the campaign, and (b) John McCain essentially agreed with him on the concept, if not the details.  Fox never shows Obama personally investing in CCE.

If Mitt Romney had become President, would we have objected to his economic policies as a conflict of interest?  No.  Perhaps Romney’s critics might have done so, but they’d be on just as shaky ground as this report.

The problem with Obama’s cap-and-trade policies isn’t his tenure with the Joyce Foundation.  It’s that they’re essentially foolish and incredibly damaging to the economy, which is why even Democrats told Obama not to hold his breath waiting for it to get through this Congress.