"> Pact to Reduce "Greenhouse Gases" Will Harm State Economies but do Nothing to Affect Climate  Western State Governors Succumb To Climate-Change Silliness

Pact to Reduce "Greenhouse Gases" Will Harm State Economies but do Nothing to Affect Climate 

In an amusing yet troubling act of trendy hubris, governors of five Western states – Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington – agreed to reduce so-called "greenhouse-gas emissions" in an effort to "combat climate change." 

 Under the pact, entitled the "Western Regional Climate Action Initiative," the five states agreed to establish a regional greenhouse-gas reduction goal within the next six months.  Afterward, the five states' governors would then have eighteen months to draft a plan, such as a "cap-and-trade" scheme, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 

These "cap-and-trade" systems essentially cap the amount of carbon dioxide that companies within a jurisdiction are allowed to emit by distributing emission credits to factories, power plants and other producers.  Companies whose emissions fall below their cap could in turn sell their unused emissions credits to other companies that exceed their own caps. 

The governors' effort is akin to dropping a few ice cubes into the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to cool it.  Perhaps the governors' celebrated effort can slash a few millionths of a degree from the world's temperature, which may increase by one degree during our lifetimes. 

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano illustrated the sheer self-importance and self-congratulatory nature of these states' pact when she proclaimed, "this is something that can't wait.  We can't continue not to do anything." 

In a nutshell, this illustrates the feel-good mentality of climate-change alarmists:  "well, we've got to do something!"  Never mind the negative consequences or utter lack of actual effect on the earth's climate. 

Naturally, sanctimonious academics whose subsidies depend upon them hyping a concocted crisis requiring never-ending amounts of additional grants and stifling regulation were thrilled.  "I'm tickled that we're doing this," said Jim Buizer, Executive Director of something entitled the "Office of Sustainability Initiatives" at Arizona State University. 

Unfortunately for these preening environmentalists, there are just a few minor problems with this scheme. 

First, the entire program itself may be voided by federal courts on the basis that they interfere with interstate commerce powers retained exclusively by the federal government.  Under the Constitution, the federal government maintains sole power to regulate interstate commerce, and individual state regulations that unduly burden interstate businesses and commerce are void. 

This reflects the Founding Fathers' understanding that allowing individual states to stifle interstate commerce through a patchwork of conflicting regulations would destroy the national economy.  Where individual states require businesses to perform specific business operations (in this instance, limiting carbon emissions) that aren't required by other states or federal law, these requirements are generally invalid because they burden businesses that are allowed to operate more efficiently in other states.  To cite a recent example, this is precisely why some states' attempts to unilaterally impose fuel-efficiency standards on automobiles manufactured overseas or in other states were nullified under the Constitution's Commerce Clause. 

Second, even if the governors' scheme withstands Constitutional scrutiny, it is doomed to fail while bludgeoning these states' economies. 

Carbon dioxide inevitably results from energy use, which drives our lives and economic activity.  Almost every activity in which humans engage requires energy output, whether powering a computer, shipping food or consumer products to buyers, driving to work, manufacturing a product or communicating with others over telecommunications wires.  Any attempt to punish energy use by imposing emission penalties necessarily limits these economic activities and imposes costs upon businesses that must satisfy the regulations.  In turn, this increases the costs of these economic activities to consumers, creating a vicious cycle. 

As a consequence, businesses and residents will flee these overly-restrictive states for other states that do not impose such pointless regulations.  For instance, why would a business open operations and hire employees in California or Arizona, when Utah and Texas do not impose the same stifling emissions regulations? 

Skeptical?  If so, consider Europe's example.  Europeans patted themselves on the back for adopting the Kyoto Protocol's regulations, promising to reduce their emissions.  As it turns out, however, Europe has failed to meet its self-imposed goals, and emissions have actually increased since adopting Kyoto.  According to even the United Nations, European Union emissions increased 2.4% between 2000 and 2004 (compared to only a 1.3% United States increase), despite their pledge to reduce emissions by 8% by 2012. 

Meanwhile, European economies are stagnant compared to high-growth countries like the United States and China, which haven't imposed Kyoto's suicidal mandates.  The five western states will suffer a similar fate under this misguided exercise in moral grandstanding. 

Simply put, the governors' agreement will harm these states' residents and economies, without doing a thing to cool the atmosphere. 

In other words, lots of pain, but no gain.  Bravo, Governors. 

March 1, 2007
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