Your Money or Your Life
October 14th, 2009
Your Money or Your Life!
There is a program out there called “Cap and Trade” that I don’t fully understand but could become a very decisive issue with the Hyperion refinery. Under the cap and trade system, Congress sets an industry wide standard that companies must adhere to. They must reduce their carbon dioxide levels of pollution each year until they come down to the standard considered by congress as a “safe” level.
From what I can see, this has both good and bad points. The good point is that it forces companies to reduce their carbon emissions. The bad point is that if they don’t take steps to reduce those emissions, they have to buy credits from companies that have a surplus of credits which allows them to keep operating. These credits are traded at market value and will create a hell of a mess.
Now there is a good side and a bad side. The good side is that it forces companies to spend money they could be using elsewhere to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they emit every year. The bad side is that those companies who don’t take those steps have to buy energy credits in order to keep operating, and that costs money. I like to refer to this as a carbon “tax”, not a credit. Let’s call it what it is.
Emissions from coal plants are a problem mainly on the east and northeast coast of the United States. That is not a big problem in this area; however we could find ourselves in a heck of a mess if they start taxing farmers for cap and trade. I cannot imagine counting how many cows and pigs a farmer has and telling him he has to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions by these animals or he will have to pay a tax to exceed the cap. About the only way he could reduce his emissions is to reduce the size of his herds. I cannot imagine farmers falling under a cap and trade because of the amount of fertilizer they use growing their crops. This could happen.
Now comes the big decision one has to make. Are you for or against this program? This is where you have to make a decision. If I support it, it will force companies like Hyperion to put policies into effect that will almost assuredly raise the price of their finished product, which will be passed on to the consumer (us). If they continue to underperform they will just continue to buy credits. Is it cheaper for them to buy credits or make changes? The big question I have is who is going to monitor to see that they become compliant? If they make the changes, then carbon dioxide emissions will go down, but will we see the effects of those changes? I doubt it because it is just released into the atmosphere and heads north. The two main effects we would see if they don’t make the changes are in the amount of sulfur dioxide they emit which causes acid rain. Sulfur dioxide also causes health problems especially people with respiratory or other health related issues. It is kind of like pay me a little bit now, or a whole lot later.
Mercury is a very serious contaminant. It can enter our bodies directly through mercury-contaminated air or drinking water. In these exposure routes, the main initial source of the mercury is air emissions from power generation, waste disposal, and other industrial activities. Again, Hyperion could be the root of this problem. The big problem is controlling how much they can pollute, because our current air quality is so pristine that it doesn’t even show on the scales. So what do we do? Do we take active measures to stop this or ignore it and hope it goes away?
I would have to say I support cap and trade. It will force companies like Hyperion to think twice about whether or not to build or whether or not they can even afford to build a refinery. I’m going to have to pay more for my utilities, but at least I will still have my health.
On the other hand, how is this going to affect my neighbors? How much is it going to increase operating expenses and is it going to force some of them out of business. This is going to be a tough decision to make folks. I wish there was another option to this mess.
The sad thing about this whole deal is that the government decides what is good and what is bad. Can we afford more bureaucracy, especially inefficient and ineffective controls? I have a bad feeling about government intervention in areas like this. Private industry is a powerful lobby, and it behooves us to keep a watchful eye on this program. Anything that Nancy Pelosi is for to me is a bad deal from the get go.
Isn’t it sad that we have to deal with something like Hyperion and the by-products that result from an operation of that sort? And people think this is called economic development. Bull!