Monday, October 8, 2007

In Obama's world, polluters must pay

For those that care, this is big-time policy news.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Democratic presidential candidate will unveil his energy plan today, calling for businesses to pay for releasing carbon dioxide instead of trading in emission rights.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama today plans to propose spending $150 billion over 10 years on new clean-energy programs, including proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to develop new energy sources, according to senior campaign advisors.

The energy package, which Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) is expected to outline in a speech at a library in Portsmouth, N.H., centers on a requirement that polluters pay for every ton of carbon emissions they release, as opposed to having rights to release some or all of the carbon dioxide they already send into the atmosphere.

Obama's call for polluters to pay for all carbon emissions is the central element of his version of a "cap-and-trade" system, a common feature in greenhouse-gas-reduction proposals.

Under cap-and-trade plans, pollution rights would be auctioned, sold or given to businesses, which could then resell or trade them to other businesses that need to purchase additional pollution rights.

A national cap would be imposed on the total carbon emissions.

Obama supports a mandatory reduction of carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and an 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 -- the same cuts sought by California and more ambitious than the 50% reduction by 2050 targeted by European countries.

Among the major candidates in the Democratic field, only New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former Energy secretary, has announced a target that goes further: a cut of 90% by 2050.

Obama wants to use the bulk of the revenue from any auction of pollution rights for a venture capital fund to promote new technologies, to help improve energy efficiency and to help Americans caught in a transition that could lead to such changes as higher electricity bills....MORE