At first glance, one might think “Carbon Criminals” is meant to describe the people who extract carbon-based fuel, sell it to the public at a competitive price, and in the process, allegedly edge the planet towards a catastrophic environmental collapse. But perhaps one would be wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with questioning our inordinate dependence on fossil fuel, or taking measures to improve the process of extracting and burning fossil fuel in order to protect our environment. To fail to regularly and scrupulously upgrade safety procedures from top to bottom, throughout the fossil fuel industry, may indeed be considered criminal. And as our technology improves and our prosperity enables us to do more, it is arguably criminal to fail to make the burning of fossil fuel a cleaner proposition each and every decade. But the real criminals are not the industrialists who have made carbon based fossil fuel the engine of civilization – the real criminals are the faceless bureaucrats and cynical opportunists who have convinced us we have to auction and trade carbon emissions allowances and carbon offset credits.
Most people still haven’t thought about how this entire scheme is going to work. And even those who have given this considerable thought, such as the bureaucrats at the California Air Resources Board, are often still in the dark on the details. Read their “Scoping Plan,” and draw your own conclusions as to their readiness to dramatically transform our economy, our property rights, and our lifestyle. Here’s a few of the concepts that need to be mastered, then applied into law, in order for “carbon trading” to become a reality:
(1) Emission Allowances – this is a permit that will be sold by the government to any business that emits more than 25,000 tons of CO2 per year. This would be all power utilities, large manufacturers, and most large agribusinesses, to name a few. These permits would have an initial price, still to be determined, that the State would collect from these businesses in order for them to continue to emit CO2 “pollution.” How are these emissions calculated? Some variables are relatively straightforward, such as smokestack emissions. But it won’t end there. Dozens of “CO2 equivalents,” such as the methane emitted from dairy farms, other livestock operations, and even the flooded fields of rice growers, and on and on, will also have to be measured and calculated. This becomes a very subjective, and very expensive procedure. But don’t worry, State approved consultants will be available to perform this calculation.
(2) Carbon Trading – this is the procedure whereby businesses that have failed to reduce their CO2 emissions would buy permits from other businesses who have managed to reduce their CO2 emissions by more than necessary. This is supposed to “put the market to work,” and indeed, it will put a lot of brokers and IT professionals to work, along with armies of attorneys and accountants. As the value of an emission allowance drops each year – so we can supposedly ratchet down our collective CO2 emissions to prehistoric levels within a few decades – companies will have the opportunity to purchase emissions allowances and “offsets” from qualified sellers, in order for them to continue to emit CO2. Alternatively, they can invest money in non-CO2 emitting sources of power – wind power, methane digesters, etc.
(3) Carbon Offsets – these are projects designed to sequester carbon or reduce carbon. A new forest that sequesters carbon in the wood of the trees. A renewable energy project that emits zero carbon. A methane harvester that captures the methane that bubbles up from a waste water pond at a dairy farm, or out of a landfill. To the extent these projects reduce annual CO2 emissions, they are eligible to sell these “offsets” to people who need more permits to emit CO2.
(4) “Additionality” – oops, don’t try to sell a carbon “offset” if you were going to build that zero CO2 emitting hydroelectric dam anyway, or if you were going to reforest your timber property anyway. For that matter, if the price of electricity gets high enough to justify any non-CO2 emitting source of energy, solar, wind, on strictly financial grounds, meaning that you would have built it anyway, then it no longer qualifies as an “offset” project, because it no longer meets the essential criteria of “additionality.” No subjectivity there.
If you don’t accept the premises being used to justify all this – that CO2 is a deadly gas, that fossil fuel is nearly depleted – than it is easier to see what a magnet this whole scheme is for white collar criminals – and their deadly counterparts in the underworld. But even if you do believe carbon is something we need to wean ourselves of, if you ponder the level of corruption that implementation will breed, you may have second thoughts. And as food for 2nd thoughts, consider these articles – just the tip of the iceberg – that describe the ongoing exploitation of the carbon scare by criminal elements:
It is difficult to read these stories, all recent, all from reputable sources, without feeling a tremendous apprehension for our future. There is a Citizen’s Initiative, the California Jobs Act, slated for the November 2010 ballot that will suspend implementation of California’s 2006 Global Warming Act, set to take effect in 2012. When the opponents of this measure pull out all the stops, accusing proponents of being shills for “big oil” (despite the fact that most oil companies have come around, and plainly see the dollar signs inherent in embracing the whole global warming scheme), remember who they are: high-tech moguls who want to build the surveillance devices that will manage every kilowatt we use and every mile we drive, public sector bureaucrats and white collar professionals who see the biggest new source of revenue since the enactment of the federal income tax nearly 100 years ago, and, of course, the Wizards of Wall Street, who will milk this for billions upon billions. For more, read “Implementing California’s Global Warming Act.”
Who are the real carbon criminals?
Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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