NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 20, 2007

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to debate amendments to a bill proposed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) that would create a "cap and trade" system designed to cut total U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions.  But H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), says the cap and trade system would slow economic growth with little, if any, environmental improvement to show for it.

Under the bill:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, petroleum refiners, major manufacturers and natural gas supplied to both residential and commercial buildings would be restricted.
  • The government would establish a cap on total emissions, and then hold auctions or gives allowances to the affected industries, allowing them to emit carbon dioxide at certain levels.
  • Companies would also be allowed to trade their emission allowances among themselves, so that companies that can cost effectively cut emissions more than their allowed amount can sell their excess emission credits to others.

Burnett notes that an analysis of cap and trade proposals in general by the Congressional Budget Office estimated costs to the economy in tens of billions and perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars annually and concluded that the poor would bear the brunt of resulting higher energy prices.

"These costs could be quite high since the technologies don't exist at the present to meet the emission reduction goals," says Burnett. "There is no telling if and when we can separate economic growth from growth in energy use or at least from growth in fossil fuel use."

Source: "Senate Scheduled to Vote on Unilateral Climate Change Bill,", December 20, 2007.

For text:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues