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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 26, 2009 at 2:01 PM

Climate legislation: Waxman-Markey too expensive or right on target?

‘Cap and trade’ has hidden costs

The Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis [“CBO: Climate bill costs to be modest,” seattletimes.com, Politics & Government, June 22] of the Waxman-Markey climate legislation (“cap and trade”) that could be passed. The CBO has reported that it will cost the average family $80 to $110 per year, but its report is glossing over some important details.

Footnote three on page four reads, “The resource cost does not indicate the potential decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) that could result from the cap. The reduction in GDP would also include indirect general equilibrium effects, such as changes in the labor supply resulting from reductions in real wages and potential reductions in the productivity of capital and labor.”

I believe this is a pretty important item that should be considered. How about page five, “The distribution of the gross cost of complying with the policy would be quite different if the price level did not increase as a result of the cap — if the Federal Reserve adjusted monetary policy to prevent such an increase. In that case, the compliance costs would fall on workers and investors in the form of lower wages and profits.”

I have yet to hear exactly what percentage of CO2 emissions these drastic measures will cut, but I have heard only a few hundredths of a percentage point. Yes, just hundredths.

— Todd Welch, Everett

Bill will protect environment, ourselves

As reported by The Times [“New U.S. climate report dire, but offers hope,” seattletimes.com, Politics & Government, June 16], the federal government has published a new report indicating that climate change is already affecting our region, causing increased flooding and wildfires. Unless we take action now, a significant number of plants and wildlife will go extinct in this century as climate change makes their current home range inhospitable.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 now being debated in Congress would put a cap on greenhouse gases to slow our planet’s warming. It would also safeguard the air, water and lands that we and wildlife depend on for survival, in part by providing funding for the National Park Service and other agencies to research and help plants and animals adjust to these changes.

An upcoming report by the National Parks Conservation Association spells out just how we can help wildlife cope with climate change. We can protect critical habitat in and adjacent to national parks by developing corridors to allow wildlife access to new habitats as their current ranges become unsuitable and by reducing additional stresses from pollution, invasive plants and disease.

This will also help our economy: Outdoor activities that rely on healthy wildlife and ecosystems contribute $730 billion to the U.S. economy.

We’re looking to Congress to pass climate legislation that protects our public lands, waters, wildlife and, ultimately, ourselves.

— Sean Smith, National Parks Conservation Association policy director, Covington

Cost of bill too much to bear

I urge our representatives not to vote in favor of this abominable “cap and trade” bill before Congress. This bill represents a huge and highly regressive tax burden on the ordinary people of Washington state that will do nothing to improve our lives or our environment but will only serve to greatly enrich those able to put themselves in the middle of the “cap and trade” transactions.

This sort of huge new cost with no discernible benefit is exactly what people do not need as our economy is recovering from a credit-market meltdown and a recession while teetering on the edge of descending even further into shrinking economic activity and hyperinflation from a federal deficit that has quadrupled in just the first four months of this new administration. Our representatives should just vote no.

— John J. Sullivan, Seattle

Imperfect bill a perfect starting point

From their speeches, you would think that reducing fossil-fuel dependence is a top priority for America’s elected leaders. However, we’re more dependent on fossil fuels than ever, and we’re paying too high a price for that dependence. Our leaders in the other Washington have yet to seriously deliver on the promise of a clean-energy economy.

Now, they have a chance to support a real change.

The American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act would invest in effective clean-energy solutions — energy efficiency and renewable resources that reduce cost and pollution. It would minimize our fossil-fuel dependence and position America to reap the benefits of clean energy — green jobs, healthier communities and a stronger economy.

Like any Congressional compromise, ACES isn’t perfect. But legislation is a process, and the journey to real climate and energy solutions will take more than one step. ACES will launch us on the right path.

Congressman Dave Reichert, R-8th District, has been open to sound policies that align economic and environmental goals, even when he has to buck his party. However, this is much bigger than party politics. It’s time to do what’s right and necessary and vote for ACES.

— Andrei G. Guschin, Redmond

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