Politics may kill cap and trade bill

Republican members of the Kansas congressional delegation said Monday that the “cap and trade” proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would put a costly burden on the Midwest where most of the electricity used is generated by coal-fired plants.
Speaking at the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association convention in Wichita, Rep. Jerry Moran, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said, “there is no more devastating piece of legislation for rural America, for the Midwest, for agriculture, for farmers and for small business than this piece of legislation at a time like this economy — bar none.”
He was joined in opposing the administration’s proposal by Sen. Sam Brownback, a candidate for governor, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who is also seeking Brownback’s Senate seat, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins. Sen. Pat Roberts apparently did not attend. He won’t be up for re-election until 2014.
The bill has passed the House but faces stiff opposition in the Senate.
None of the Kansas opponents of the cap and trade bill offered an alternative way to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say are causing global warming at an increasing rate. The increase in the atmosphere’s temperature is melting the Earth’s ice fields at the poles, raising ocean levels and causing climate changes.
Brownback said Kansas City Power & Light has projected a 37 percent increase in electric rates by 2013 if the measure passes.
The legislation proposed would require utilities and other users of coal to pay for permission to burn the fuel and emit the gases. It would result in a higher price for the electricity produced to encourage utilities to turn to wind, solar and other non-polluting sources of electrical energy.
An alternative to cap and trade would be a direct tax on carbon, a simpler way to accomplish the same result.
There probably isn’t a painless way to reduce the rate of global warming — and politicians hate to cause pain. They most particularly hate to cause pain in the immediate future in order to achieve a far-off goal; a goal that most certainly can’t be reached before the next election that affects them. So many choose to ignore the problem or support non-painful, ineffective alternatives.
Prospects for reversing global warming are grim indeed.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.