Despite the 5,800 miles between them, events yesterday in Poznan, Poland, and Sacramento, California, shed a frightening light on the direction President-elect Barack Obama’s administration wants to take our country on energy policy. First in Poznan, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) promised delegates at an international climate conference that “Congress and the president-elect are committed to movement on mandatory goals as rapidly as possible.” According to Obama’s transition website, the preferred enforcement mechanism for these mandatory goals would be a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, which any honest economist will tell you is really just a energy tax dressed up in drag. Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the unelected California Air Resources Board approved “the nation’s most sweeping plan to reduce global warming by curbing emissions.” Like Obama’s plan, California’s plan features “an elaborate cap-and-trade program” at its core.

What makes California’s cap-and-trade plan so scary is that voters never had, and never will have, an opportunity to debate and vote on its implementation. The plan is being implemented entirely through the administrative process. None of the members of California board has ever, or will ever, face the voters. They are appointed by the governor.

Could a similar thing happen on the federal level? Yes. Obama has already signaled he will pursue a similar route. Earlier this month he appointed two co-chairmen to his EPA transition team who are leading advocates of using authority from the Clean Air Act to implement a national cap-and-trade system through the EPA without congressional approval. In fact, the EPA has already begun that rule-making process. The plan would invasively regulate every sector of the American economy, ultimately cost 2.9 million manufacturing jobs and reduce aggregate gross domestic product by $6.9 trillion by 2029. The EPA does not take a position on whether the allowances of the cap and trade plan will be given away or auctioned off. But with liberals in charge, it is almost guaranteed cap and trade will be treated as a government cash cow.

What will Washington do with all the revenue from this new massive energy tax? For that answer, we must travel back to Poznan where the delegates from the world’s developing nations continue to refuse to make any firm commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions unless developed countries, the United States chief among them, pony up the cash to ease the economic hardship all carbon emission reduction entails.  Mexico made headlines with its promise to reduce emissions by 50% by 2020. But reading deeper we learn from the Washington Post (emphasis added):

Fernando Tudela, Mexico’s vice minister of environment and natural resources, emphasized the need for financial help from richer nations. At a news conference Thursday, he said that Mexico will set “aspirational goals” but that the extent to which they would be met “will depend on the kind of support we can find in the international regime.”

In other words: Mexico isn’t cutting anything until the United States cuts them a check first. And that is where the carbon tax funds come in. Energy and Environment Daily reports that assuming any U.S. cap-and-trade regime auctions off its credits, it “could generate billions of dollars in new revenue that could be shared with developing countries as incentives for making their own commitments.” And just who are these developing countries that hard-working Americans will be sending their money to? Thanks to antiquated definitions still used by the United Nations, wealthy nations like Singapore, Kuwait, and Qatar are all not only exempt from the more stringent carbon caps that “rich” nations face, but are also eligible for any funds “poor” countries would receive from any international treaty on climate change.

As our economy struggles to recover, our leaders should be working to lower our energy costs and develop our own natural resources, not enacting complex regulatory schemes that will crush our economy and send our hard-earned money overseas.

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