TCS Daily

Leap of Faith

By Jon Reisman - April 11, 2003 12:00 AM

COOPER, Maine - Maine's legislature is poised to pass "An Act to Provide Leadership in Addressing the Threat of Climate Change." The bill would implement the New England governors/ Eastern Canadian premiers Climate Change Agreement (CCA). The legislation will put Maine on the path of regulating and controlling carbon dioxide and possibly other greenhouse gas emissions.

The emissions reductions "goals" in the CCA are updated versions of those found in the unratified and rejected Kyoto Protocol. Under the CCA, Maine will reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, and 10% below that by 2020. This will be accomplished with yet to be written rules, regulations, standards, subsidies and taxes. This mode of implementation is usually called "command and control". There is also a hope to use the carbon trading "market" approach championed by Enron.

At this time, it's worth asking what implementing Kyoto will get Maine.

  • Higher energy prices

  • Seven one hundredths of a degree in averted global warming
    That's what the models say, if everyone implements Kyoto

  • A weaker economy

  • One recent study predicted it would cost Maine almost a half billion in lost revenue due to slower growth.

  • More grant money for climate change research

  • Litigation

  • New England's governors violated Article 1, section 10 of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting agreements with foreign powers and other states without the consent of Congress when they signed the Climate Change Agreement.

    A chance to bash President Bush on environmental policy

  • A sense of moral superiority about our energy and environmental choices

That's what we're sure to get in this expensive leap of faith.

Jon Reisman teaches environmental policy at the University of Maine at Machias.

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