Green efforts add to current economic woes

Freedom New Mexico

The first of what promises to be many taxes and regulations to protect us from the presumed threat of global warming was approved last week by an air quality management district in San Francisco.

It marked the first time in the nation a government agency has charged companies “fees” based on their emission of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases.

The district’s board of directors said it’s only a “modest fee” they have imposed on that area’s 2,500 businesses, which already are regulated by the agency under air pollution laws.

It’s true that most affected companies, including gasoline service stations, will pay only about a buck a year under the new edict. But others, like oil refineries and power plants, will be forced to cough up as much as $180,000 annually, The Associated Press reported.

We guess “modest” must be in the eye of the beholder.

No one should be fooled by this initial foray into regulating, penalizing and effectively taxing emission of greenhouse gases.

“The inclusion of greenhouse-gas fees is a new tool that we expect other air districts will also adopt to help fund their mandated climate protection activities,” said district Executive Officer Jack Broadbent.

Meanwhile, the state Air Resources Board is preparing its own fees and regulations under the same authorizing legislation, 2006’s arrogantly titled Global Warming Solutions Act. Already, agencies are bickering about which of them should get to collect new fees. That’s no surprise when new controls and revenue streams are at stake.

But there’s more at stake. Daniel Kammen, identified as a “renewable-energy expert at the University of California-Berkeley, was quoted by the International Herald Tribune saying: “It doesn’t solve global warming, but it gets us thinking in the right terms. It’s not enough of a cost to change behavior, but it tells us where things are headed.”

Make no mistake. The intent of this and what are likely to be similar diktats throughout California and then the nation is to change behavior. The ultimate means of this persuasion will be to impose increasingly, not-so-modest “fees” to make it financially painful for businesses to resist change.

Government’s coercive behavior modification is problematic in itself. It presumes government knows best what the private sector should do to meet entirely arbitrary goals the government itself concocts. But in the highly questionable and increasingly debated realm of global warming, these problematic taxes to change behavior are compounded by the underlying uncertainty of the mission.

There is no proven cause-and-effect relationship between increasing CO2 — a natural gas essential to life on Earth and not a pollutant as the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded — and increasing temperatures.

Indeed, in the past decade while CO2 levels have greatly increased, global temperatures have declined.

Temperatures over the next decade are projected to decrease even more, while greenhouse gases are expected to continue increasing in the atmosphere.

Perhaps this explains the pell-mell rush to pass new laws, impose new regulations and adopt more fees and taxes. The passage of time seems to be working against global warming alarmism, cooling off opinions even as the atmosphere cools.

Virtually every human activity, from exhaling to laying concrete to generating electricity, emits CO2. The alternatives government would impose either are impractical, exorbitantly costly or simply don’t exist.

But in the meantime, a rash of new regulations and taxes can do great economic harm, putting the nation at a competitive disadvantage with the booming economies of China and India, where such economy-crippling impediments aren’t about to be imposed.