Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | December 3, 2010

Climate Fund with No Impact on Climate Becomes Miracle Money Stash

A number of conservative and libertarian types have pointed out that these days, smokers are basically “smoking for the children.” States are relying heavily on cigarette taxes to fund such a variety of programs that it’s practically an act of public spiritedness to buy cigarettes. And now, for residents of the 10 Northeastern states, the same can be said of flipping your light switch to the “ON” position – or, presumably, using incandescent bulbs and setting the thermostat on 72. The more electric power you use, the more money there is in the state treasury to raid for the children.  The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, or “Reggie”), which requires the power industry to purchase carbon dioxide permits from the governmental RGGI collective, has seen to that.

There is a problem with this perfect scheme, however. Cash-strapped Northeasterners, reverting to their infamous thrift (and with businesses closing to boot), are using a lot less electricity than they were a couple of years ago.  A whole lot less.  In fact, the results from the latest sale of RGGI carbon dioxide permits were abysmal: only 57% of those on offer in the RGGI exchange sold, and the selling price was the minimum allowable bid of $1.86 per unit. The reason is simple:  electricity use is way, way down in the Northeast.  The power industry doesn’t need all the CO2 units being offered.

Environmentalists, who ought to be ecstatic, can still kvetch. The diversion of the RGGI funds already deposited with the states is problematic: instead of being used for energy-salvation measures, they are being used to pay for schools and other state expenses. One environmental activist is quoted as follows:

Some environmentalists who support the multistate pact agree that without the investment in programs that cut energy use and create green jobs, the initiative’s potential economic benefit becomes an expense.

“There’s a direct consequence for taking this money,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. “Families are going to pay higher energy bills this winter if they didn’t weatherize their homes.”

It’s worth briefly unpacking this logic. Mr. Tittel’s statement – “Families are going to pay higher energy bills this winter if they didn’t weatherize their homes” – is a truism independent of whether there is a RGGI or not.  If you weatherize your home, you will pay lower energy bills than if you don’t weatherize your home.  There could be no RGGI at all, and that would still be true.

The differences with RGGI are the following:

1. Energy bills are higher, regardless of whether you weatherize or not.

2.  Additional money goes to the state treasuries, with RGGI in effect.  The additional amount doesn’t deliver more electricity to you, or deliver it better.  You just pay more per unit than you did before, and the state gets a new income stream.

You may get a home weatherization out of the deal, but you could have gotten that anyway, without RGGI.  Either way, you’re paying for it; the difference lies in who extracts income from the process, and how.

It’s in the nature of politics that money sitting around in a fund becomes the target of public spenders.  It’s in the nature of economics that when people have less income, but things cost them more, they buy less of those things.  Nevertheless, it’s funny how quickly politics and economics have kicked in to torpedo RGGI, our nation’s grandest (so far) carbon rent-seeking scheme.

Make no mistake:  carbon-credit schemes are about generating income.  They are not about reducing emissions until we can declare victory; their purpose is to institute a method for government and interest groups to perpetually manipulate and make money off of humanity’s most basic interactions with the environment.

Think of it this way.  Option One: you could weatherize your home, and pay lower utility bills.  But why do that, when with Option Two, you could arrange for the government to make the power industry pay it a new surcharge for the authorization to generate power; a move that raises your energy bills (and all your other bills, since everyone you buy anything from uses energy) to cover the surcharge, but also puts more money in the state kitty, some of which might be used to weatherize your home?  Is there any question that Option Two is preferable?  Higher costs overall, money going to the government, special interests rather than the market  dictating the system’s premises – and still you have the possibility, although not the guarantee, of course, of a home weatherization.  What’s not to love?

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.


  1. It looks like we can wave good-bye to the stereotypical New Englander. The thrifty, wily, no nonsense Yankee of yore as represented by fellows like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Daniel Webster and Oliver Wendell Holmes is now as extinct as Triceratops. What would those fossils say about the likes of John Kerry and Barney Frank?

  2. Sort of on the same topic, I recently witnessed what I think is the most preposterous example of “saving the planet.” I was in Miami last weekend and the hotel I stayed at, like virtually all hotels, provided a bar of soap. However, this was not your regular bar of soap. This soap did not have a middle to it. It was basically a kind of rectangular shaped ring. The box that it came in (also hollowed out in the middle) explained that the soap was made as such because it would reduce waste, and that reducing such waste would benefit the environment. How would it reduce waste? Well, people typically throw away the middle of the soap when it gets worn down. So if there is no middle of the soap in the first place, it can’t be thrown away and wasted.

    This is all so outrageously stupid that it’s hard to know where to begin. But, we all know that measures like these have nothing to do with the environment. They’re just a method to direct us to a certain way of living our lives. Little by little, the Left, citing endangered Mother Earth as the exalted reason, pressures us all to use the proper lightbulbs, the proper cars, the proper amount of plastic and now the proper soap. It’s all about social control and has nothing to do with the environment at all. The left hasn’t changed much over time – it’s always had the need to control the populace. Hopefully liberalism will eventually be discredited like its forefathers Marxism, communism and fascism.

  3. That is one heck of a tale about the doughnut-hole soap. It’s so meaningless. There are hardly words to describe its stupidity. It’s not like the soapmaker is making less soap. And if people end up throwing less soap away, well, the significance of soap remnants in landfills is vanishingly miniscule. Their ONLY significance to landfills would be volume, since they are biodegradable and don’t give off toxins in the process of biodegradation.

    Which hotel was this? A national chain we can all take an oath to avoid?

    • The donut-hole soap might not be such a bad idea, IF the bar is in fact smaller in weight because of the hole. People expect bars of soap to be a certain size, so reducing volume is impractical. But it could save money (never mind the Earth) if hotel soap bars were smaller. Enlisting you to save money for them by hiding behind something warm and fuzzy is just old fashioned marketing, updated to take advantage of environmental guilt.

      As for the landfill point, biodegradability is a 70s thing. It turned out to be a terrible idea. Landfills became bathtubs full of crap, then they leaked crap into the groundwater.So after requiring landfills to be like bathtubs, the government changed the rules and required them to be essentially dry. Water must be kept out, and any water than gets in must be removed. Consequently, biodegradation is impossible and biodegradability has no value. In a thousand years, some archeologist is going to discover one of today’s dry-as-a-bone landfills and be able to read today’s New York Times. There will be a cable channel devoted to ancient superstitions of the 21st century.

  4. It was The Clifton Hotel. The site says something about “Cambean Earth” and refers to Cambean Hospitality Hotels. I had never heard of them before.

    Oh, and predictably, my doughnut soap “bar” broke in two the 2nd day I was there. The weather sure was nice though! Especially when you live in the Northeast like I do.

    • Ritchie,
      Some great stuff on the hotel’s website:
      “Cambean Earth is a new brand that seeks to incorporate environmentally friendly lodging practices within Cambean Hospitality Hotels. The goal is to demonstrate that being environmentally responsible can be sexy without sacrificing luxury or convenience.

      The Cambean Earth logo utilizes a graphic banana leaf in the shape of a “C” to represent Cambean. The logo will be placed throughout Cambean properties to identify sustainable materials and features that have been adopted to promote conservation of energy, water, and other natural resources.

      As part of the Cambean Earth initiative, Cambean Hospitality is also in the process of establishing the Cambean Earth Environmental Fund, which will make contributions to both local and national charities that are dedicated to protecting natural resources and sustainability.”

      So – in addition to giving you the holey soap the hotel is also going to make a nice contribution in your name.

      • Wow, and all we’ve got in my little town is a Best Western, a Quality Inn, and a Super 8.

        The Super 8 recently sold off a bunch of old mattresses when it replaced them with new ones. Apparently Super 8 rotates which site has the mattress sale, and ours had the lucky number this time. I wasn’t in the market, but the sale was advertised in the local ad rag. The hotel chain hired an empty retail facility (used to be a Do-It Center) and arrayed the mattresses for the interested public. Sounds pretty green to me. Maybe Super 8 should devise a new logo incorporating a used mattress.

        • 😉

        • On second thought, a used mattress might not be the best item for a chain of cheap motels to use in its logo.

    • This is all marketing, trying to make you — the customer who is guiltily enjoying worldly pleasures that 99.9% of the world is too poor to enjoy, not thanks to you — feel a wee bit better about yourself.

      If they were serious about saving the environment, they would not have hot water and they would not change the sheets. Except that you would not rent a hotel room from them, which is really bad for business.

      • The new comments on this made me realize that we missed a significant point about the holey soap. I think a soap donut has more surface area than an equal mass of soap in the form of a rectangular solid. If that is true it would presumably lather better.

        This needs further exploration. I shall put this question to a topologist.

  5. What does this have to do with Saudi Princes going first?

    • Sorry about that, ZN. The reason I wouldn’t want the Saudi princes to go first is that the attack has to be successful.

      • LOL!

        Could we at least ask them to give something up, like their daily manicures? Your cowboys are beating my Colts!

        • The ‘boys’ll fold.

  6. sully, I read that too. It just gives me the warm fuzzies knowing that a donation will be made in my name for such a worthy cause.

    I’m hoping fuster is right. As a Redskins fan, it’s my sworn duty to root against the Cowboys. My dad is a Giants fan, who beat my Redskins rather convincingly today. I sent him a text asking if anyone on the Giants needed to take a shower after the game.

    • My poor deluded child is a Skins fan.
      I’m going to guess our running backs, Jacobs and Bradshaw, worked up a sweat.

      • I was a Giants fan because of Sam Huff and Y.A.T.

    • I’m trying to parse whether it is more or less racist to be a fan of the Redskins or to be a fan of the Cowboys against the Redskins. I think the safest bet is to be neutral.

  7. JED, you better watch out. Peyton is pissed.

    • Ummm…You were saying…?

  8. If they didn’t break apart, I would not oppose doughnut shaped soap bars. Those little bars get used once or twice and thrown away — or find their way into the luggage on checkout. The reasons given, though, are supremely silly.

    They had some sort of meaningless environmental save-the-planet summit in Cancun, where they prayed to some goddess with a snake on her head. The fuel used to fly just one of those international environmental bigwigs into Mexico would probably keep my Yukon on the road for the rest of my natural life. But Cancun in the winter is probably a lot more pleasant than some frugal videoconference.

  9. Congratulations Cowboys.

  10. Sully, it’s racist to be either for or against the Redskins. The one is imperialist and condescending, the other is bigoted and hateful.

    Glad to be of service.

  11. Well, Oklahoma’s FBS teams all get bowl slots. OU will set itself up as a target once again for a Cinderella also-ran (UConn Huskies) in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Haven’t we seen that movie several times now?

    Oklahoma State heads to San Antonio and the Valero Alamo Bowl for a match with the other Stoops-coached team, Arizona’s Wildcats.

    The University of Tulsa GOOOO-OOOOLDEN HURRICANE!!!! will face off against Hawaii’s Warriors in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Not bad, not bad, for the very smallest school in the FBS.

    Texas’ pride will be upheld this year by TCU, playing awesome football and headed for the Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, there to take on Wisconsin’s on-fire Badgers. Should be a terrific game.

    Too many other bowls to break down, but I must mention the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl to be held in Yankee Stadium on 30 Dec. Bowl action is back, in the chilly Northeast! The Big 12’s Kansas State will meet Syracuse in that first-ever event, which frankly is way more important than whatever they decide about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

  12. It just occurred to me that the Redskins are the most environmentally friendly team in the NFL. By playing with such little inspiration, they made it possible for the Giants to require only 2 showers after the game (your Bradshaw & Jacobs, fuster). As a matter of fact, I think those 2 RBs could well have shared a single bar of doughnut-hole soap!

    Dallas Cowboys – America’s Team!

    Washington Redskins – Al Gore’s Team!!!!!!

    I think it’s clear sully that it’s bigoted to be a fan of any team but the Redskins and racist not to explicitly be a Redskins fan.

    J.E., I remember a Bob Stoops coached Oklahoma team won the national title in 2000. It was, without question, the best tackling game I’ve ever seen. I don’t think OK missed a single tackle the whole game. More importantly, that win sealed the victory for me in the Bowl Pool that I was in!

  13. In case you football fans missed it, Cowboy great Dandy Don has passed away.

  14. Your Commentary piece on Mr. Peanut’s testy speech (“why I caved”) is beautifully written.

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