Gerald Ford never said “drop dead” to New York City when it pleaded with Washington for a bailout at the nadir of its profligate liberalism back in the mid-1970s, but that didn’t stop the NY Daily News from running the famous headline. (Ford was of course quite correct in resisting a bailout.) I wonder if any newspaper or media organization will take the same poetic license with Obama’s new greenhouse gas emission rules being issued today, as such a headline would be completely accurate.
I’ll have lots more to say about all of this later in the week, but several preliminary observations are in order this morning. First, the so-called state-based “flexibility” of the scheme—emphasizing that states can sign up for a cap and trade program with other states to minimize the cost of emissions reductions—is cover for the fact that this entails wealth redistribution mostly from red states to blue states. If you are Indiana, for example, which gets over 80 percent of its electricity from coal, you are either going to have to lay out a lot of capital investment to replace coal plants with natural gas plants (in the short run), or shell out for emissions permits from another state. The latter will probably be cheaper in the short run, but either way will involve higher costs for Indiana ratepayers.
No doubt the natural gas sector will be smiling this morning, as new natural gas plants are, for the moment, the cheapest form of electricity generation, and the new EPA rules will be a boon for the industry. The newfound prospect for gas, of course, owes in large part to the fracking revolution that has made gas cheap and abundant. Which environmentalists hate. Hence the anti-fracking campaigns growing everywhere. Note to the natural gas industry: they’re coming for you next. It was foolish of Chesapeake Energy to give $26 million secretly to the Sierra Club for the Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign a few years back. They didn’t even sell the Sierra Club the rope with which to hang the energy sector: they outright gave it to them.
Since it looks like we’re getting cap and trade through the back door, we should revisit Remy Munisifi’s take on the matter from 2010: