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current edition

Cap and What?

Written by Dennis Sun
    Once again, Washington and our Congress are passing more laws that most likely will harm the economics of Wyoming and other Rocky Mountain states. The latest bill (Cap and Trade Bill) that passed the U.S. House by only seven votes is called the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” by its supporters or its non-supporters call it the Waxman-Markey Bill. Now, how can one argue against a bill with that great of a name? That would be un-American.  
    As you read in last week’s Roundup, the bill has good intentions and it addresses numerous issues this country needs to look at such as curbing greenhouse gasses. This bill deals mainly with solutions to solve global warming, but I’m not even sure we know all of the reasons for global warming and even if we did, it will take all of the countries around the world working together to solve the problem. With China and India not participating in reducing carbon in their countries, along with other poor countries who don’t have the resources to participate, it’s sure unfair to ask the USA to shoulder the responsibility. I’ll bet China and India don’t even have an air quality standard.  
    This bill as currently written will be hard on energy companies, especially those in Wyoming and other western states that use coal to produce electricity. If these companies get taxed, they just pass on the costs in the form of rate hikes to us the consumers. This will really hit hard for those of us using REA electricity.  
    Before this bill passed the House there was supposed to be language in it excluding agriculture from regulation under the bill, but, as it passed, even this was questioned. What wasn’t questioned were the increased costs of fuel, electricity, fertilizer, equipment and all of the other costs to maintain a livestock operation and other ag businesses.  
    Nationally the agricultural organizations are split on supporting this bill, with the livestock organizations mostly in opposition because of the costs while others are in favor because of reducing emissions and providing offsets for carbon. Economists have estimated that this climate change bill would cause farm income to drop anywhere from $8 billion in the short term to $50 billion in the long term. Everyone wonders if the monies received for carbon offsets will make up for loss of farm income. I would say most likely not. In Wyoming there are only around seven counties where you can receive rangeland carbon payments, so what about all of the others?
    I’m all for clean air and we just have to get this energy issue solved. But these are tough times and it looks like we are going to get taxed enough, doesn’t it? Putting businesses out of business is not the way to stimulate the economy and get it back on track. Incentives are a better way than taxing to get businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And if America is going to do it, so should all the other industrial nations, especially China and India. What does the world owe them?
Dennis