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Rick Edmund
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Rick Edmund

Rick Edmund is a United Methodist church pastor in Maryland. He resides on Smith Island, which has been impacted by rising sea-level and in 2007 testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment about climate change and the Chesapeake Bay. ALL POSTS

Competition and capitalism

Q: As the prospects for a climate bill in the Senate get dimmer, some in Congress have said the solution is not to limit U.S. emissions but instead invest in green technology (wind, solar or earth's natural heat) that might be able to produce the same energy but with less pollution. Is this a good way to go, instead of setting a legal limit on emissions?

One of the great things about a country that uses capitalism as its economic basis is that multiple companies compete with one another to give the best product or service at the lowest cost to the consumer. Demand is very high to keep production costs down and still show a profit. This usually means that companies are reluctant to experiment with new technology unless they can see a direct benefit to their bottom line. There's no blame here -- this is just good business sense. For instance, I don't see power generating plants volunteering to install new scrubbers unless there are regulations requiring them to do so. If we are quite sure that emissions are causing the world's temperature to rise, then it seems to me the only way that helpful changes will happen is through regulations, which no one desires, but are a necessary part of the solution.

Near Coshocton, Ohio, where I grew up in the 1960's, is such a coal fired power plant. A photo of the smoke stacks there was the lead picture in a National Geographic article about global warming seven or so years ago. As long as I can remember one stack has belched out voluminous amounts of smoke while another stack seems to be idle, but actually is, to the best of my knowledge, using scrubbers to clean the pollutants out of the air leaving the plant. The plant is owned by AEP, the largest coal burning electrical generating utility in the western hemisphere. Today they are attempting to address the climate-change problem with progressive thinking and technology. But like any company, need incentives and regulations to follow to stay competitive and not pass along large cost increases to consumers. I applaud their position and invite readers to check their web site at www.aep.com. The chairman, Mike Morris, is open about AEP supporting the House of Representatives version of climate-change legislation rather than leaving the oversight to the EPA.

Many forms of green technology have been around for decades but are not being followed for the reasons I've mentioned. We need sensible regulations/guidelines for companies to follow while not putting more Americans out of work. A hard act to accomplish I know, but one I'm sure we can figure out.

By Rick Edmund  |  February 3, 2010; 11:21 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Our economy is a shambles in large part because of an unfettered market. The fantasy that, "...a country that uses capitalism as its economic basis is that multiple companies compete with one another to give the best product or service at the lowest cost to the consumer..." Demand is very high to keep production costs down and still show a profit.
In fact an unfettered market is really about building a better monopoly, and using capital not to innovate, but rather to concentrate power by buying competitors.
If this problem is left to the "markets", we'll be buying Danish, Chinese, and other equipment because the business leadership of this country is anti-competitive.
It amazes me that in 2010, 10% of the workforce unemployed, someone is so dogmatic as to believe that a free market really works. Actually, disgraceful.

Posted by: joesolo | February 7, 2010 10:46 AM
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FLASH!!

This Brand New Video Blows a Huge Gaping Hole in Obama's Cap and Tax Scheme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVm5-6H_sH4

Posted by: CommieBlaster | February 6, 2010 6:58 PM
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