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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 29, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Cap-and-trade: Is this climate legislation worth the price?

Reichert’s cap-and-trade vote a disservice to constituents

A district-by-district impact study by the Heritage Foundation found Washington’s 8th Congressional District will lose 4,756 nonfarm jobs in 2012 as a result of the cap-and-trade legislation Rep. Dave Reichert voted for recently [“Members of Washington’s congressional delegation explain their cap-and-trade votes,” seattletimes.com, Politics Northwest, June 26]. My job will likely be one of them.

In fact, our district is highly dependent on the airline industry; not only is it home for many airline pilots like myself, whether employed by locally based Alaska Airlines or other major airlines, but for thousands of workers employed at Boeing and related aerospace companies. Airlines’ answer to higher jet-fuel prices is reducing capacity and parking airplanes, which directly impacts employment and eliminates the need to purchase new aircraft from Boeing.

Market-based mechanisms have already sent a signal to the industry to develop means to reduce fossil-fuel consumption as profits have been eaten by the cost of energy. Congress should not place additional burdens on an industry that will serve only to further reduce innovation and hemorrhage jobs while merely shifting carbon emissions — and wealth — to the other side of the globe.

Does Reichert recognize the catastrophic impacts of the bill he supported? Not only will local jobs be eliminated, but manufacturing jobs across our nation will be exported to foreign countries like China where cap-and-trade barriers do not exist. Even 44 democrats crossed the aisle to vote against this dangerous and destructive piece of legislation. Why didn’t Reichert?

— J. Zach Oldham, Bellevue

There is no dollar value on environmental damage

George F. Will presents a case against solar and wind power [“Save the planet, lose some jobs,” Opinion, syndicated columnist, June 26] as being economically subpar. He says “environmentalists with the courage of their convictions should argue that the point of such investments is to subordinate market rationality to the higher agenda of planetary salvation.”

I will go along with him on this point, with some reservations. It is most likely true that energy development that takes into account the embedding of the economic system in the ecologic system will be less efficient than calculations that ignore this embedding.

However, the consequences of ignoring it can be serious. Coal might be more efficient in a totally economic argument, but if we include global warming in the argument, we have to add costs of carbon capture and storage, an unproven technique. In addition, how do we put a dollars-and-cents value on the environmental damage of strip mining the coal?

Calculating costs in a broader sense than conventional macroeconomics is even more vital in the case of oil. I will submit that the costs of two wars — Iraq and Afghanistan — plus all the previous conflict in the Persian Gulf, including the Gulf War of 1991, must be added.

Environmentalists, it is true, do tend to shrug off the economic implications of the policies they advocate and must become more rigorous in that regard.

— Peter Van Zant, Seattle

Let’s change the market to support green policies, not oil

George F. Will’s recent syndicated column arguing against renewable and sustainable energy makes important logical assumptions that are false. He says these forms of generation are “politically driven investments [that] are economically counterproductive” because they “subordinate market rationality” to environmental values.

But all economic decisions are value based, and market rationality reflects these unarticulated premises. For example, current policy is designed to favor coal and oil producers, and the market includes lavish subsidies and tax breaks. Abstract market rationality would support the legalized buying and selling of heroin at the mall, but some social values have distorted what would otherwise be a bustling commerce.

Economics can just as readily support the long-term values of community sustainability as those of short-term private rapaciousness. Will knows this, but dissembles in his writings. And, thankfully, the House of Representatives passed the new energy policies in the climate-control bill later that same day.

— Phil Bereano, Seattle

No need for tax within cap-and-trade

If carbon emissions are harmful to the Earth, shouldn’t we just cap and then reduce these emissions?

What is this cap, trade and tax Americans all about? The cap is OK, the trade part is insanity — especially if carbon emissions are harmful — and the taxes created by HB 2454 are unnecessary. These taxes will cause every American to move toward poverty.

This poor legislation will cause huge job losses, higher energy costs for everyone in the United States and give the incentives for productivity to Asian countries smart enough to understand that low-cost energy is smart business.

With global cooling betraying the foundations of the cap-and-trade concepts, the Democratic Party, lead by the Obama administration, are rushing to tax all Americans for everything short of breathing.

Today scientific proof is revealing that the global-warming scare is little more than data misused to point out nonproblems with the Earth’s future. We might as well rely on Tarot readers for data.

— Jim Henderson, Walla Walla

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