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Cap-and-trade declared dead--again

By Juliet Eilperin

While Washington Post readers learned Saturday that Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) declared "Cap-and-trade is dead," the senator decided to repeat that message Tuesday.

Reuters reported this afternoon that Graham announced that an economy-wide cap and trade system for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, "I think is dead."

"The cap and trade bills in the House and Senate are dead. The concept of cap and trade is going to be replaced," Graham added.

Here at Post Carbon, we've moved past that. We're looking at whether a cap-and-dividend plan can fly, in which the federal government limits emission but returns most of the money it gets from auctioning pollution allowances back to taxpayers.

At a breakfast Tuesday morning sponsored by Kathy Kemper's Institute for Education, Energy Department deputy secretary Daniel Poneman told the audience the Obama administration was open to such a move.

"The president's been very clear: we're looking to put some sort of price on carbon," Poneman said. "That's the central issue."

In the end, the question of 60 votes for a carbon cap is more important to the administration than a carbon market. Poneman did signal that the administration is still looking to ease the economic pinch of higher energy prices, though.

"We'll look at how to make that transition less onerous for people who would be disproportionately affected by that transition," he said.


Juliet Eilperin

 |  March 2, 2010; 3:33 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I sure do wish that we could stop worrying about carbon dioxide, or "greenhouse gas" emissions. We are wasting a lot of time, money and energy chasing things that do not exist. Carbon dioxide is not causing the climate to warm.

Our major problem is our dependence on oil that is held captive by regimes that wish us ill. This foolish global warming myth is distracting us and preventing us from addressing the real problem. We have several options and should pursue them simultaneously.

We can us the huge reserves of coal that we possess as the backbone of our electricity generation industry.

Natural gas is best used in electric load-following peaking units, and for space heat, water heat, clothes drying and cooking in homes and commercial establishments. In addition, natural gas is to a limited extent used to fuel vehicles now and this use could easily be extended.

We should admit that wind and solar will always be bit players in our energy supply system and stop wasting time and money building and subsidizing their use. Neither can provide the reliable continuous generation that we require.

We should have a fresh look at nuclear, beginning with an honest debate about its relative safety. Given the lack of significant damage or health harm from the meltdown at Thee Mile Island, we should review the cost of the redundant systems that we demand of the nuclear plants, to see if we feel comfortably safe with less costly generating systems.

A second nuclear option is development of intrinsically safe reactor designs, e.g. gravel-bed reactors.

Meanwhile, we should have a second conversation to explore the technically feasible alternative of re-use of spent nuclear fuels, including the construction of nuclear reactors that use the plutonium produced in uranium reactors to generate electric power.

We should recover and use the oil reserves that we have identified in our own country and continue the search for new reserves. Concomitant with development of these resources we should begin developing plans to provide energy for transportation that can replace petroleum-based fuels in the event that they become prohibitively expensive.

We should admit that short of discovery of a cost effective means to extract sugar from cellulose, that biofuels cannot provide a significant portion of our needed mobile vehicle fuel requirements. Natural gas may be a short-term answer.

We could be doing all of those things an probably some that I cannot imagine rather than wasting our time and energy worrying about a problem that does not exist, i.e. carbon dioxide-induced global warming.

Posted by: snorbertzangox | March 2, 2010 4:32 PM
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