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A Conservative Answer to Climate Change

The Paris climate change negotiations won’t end until later this week, but we already know what will happen. The parties will reach a toothless agreement pledging to reduce emissions and provide aid to the developing world. Everyone will talk about how much they accomplished. Then they will go home, where most countries will ignore the whole thing and start getting ready for the next conference.

The international community has given up on the idea of top-down, enforceable emissions limits. Instead, they rely on each country to develop Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. If the countries agree that each nation is doing its fair share, they’ll come to an agreement.

Sure, countries can renege on their INDCs without triggering any penalties, but that very fact makes it more likely that negotiators will come to some sort of agreement in Paris. The remaining controversies will be over how many degrees of warming are acceptable and the emissions trajectory necessary to satisfy that target, which countries should bear what degree of emissions reduction burden, whether and at what level developing countries should receive what types of aid, and how reporting and verification requirements will be structured.

The final product won’t add up to much, but at least the final communiqué will read nicely.

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Some environmentalists have noticed this. Ex-NASA climatologist-turned-activist James Hansen called the conference’s proposals “half-assed and half-baked.” For the politicians involved, making commitments to do something in the future is far better than actually doing something.

President Barack Obama’s promises aren’t serious, either. The White House-developed INDC would reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, a goal that isn’t achievable under current policies. The Clean Power Plan, tighter CAFE standards, a constant flow of efficiency standards, regulations on the oil and gas sector, billions in subsidies for renewable sources of energy and many other small-bore policies all fall far short of satisfying the targets that the United States is bandying about in Paris.

Estimates suggest the country is about 30 percent shy of meeting this stated target. Which shouldn’t be surprising, since the president’s executive orders and the administration’s rulemaking both rely on outdated legislative authority. The tools at Obama’s disposal are artifacts of an environmental movement dedicated to stamping out acute harms like acid rain and ground-level ozone, not the pernicious problem of global climate change.

Of course, our partners in Paris know this, too. They have access to the same figures we do and know existing policy isn’t up to the task. They have seen the Senate resist ratification of a climate treaty before. They know that 24 states have filed suit against the president’s marquee climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, and that their case to overturn the regulation in the courts is strong.

Still, even paltry U.S. carbon policies have pulled ever-intractable China and India into commitments to reduce their emissions intensity radically over the coming decades.

The challenge now is to overcome these persistent obstacles and actually realize global emissions reductions. Game theory calls this the free rider problem. When one country reduces its emissions, it restrains its own economic growth and bears costs without receiving climate benefits. Limiting global anthropogenic climate change is only achievable if each country acts in concert to address emissions, even though the smart strategy is to free ride on other nations’ actions.

That means some big changes. The United States should resist any binding international commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Surrendering any economic sovereignty for the sake of climate action is a foolish choice. Similarly, the president’s actions so far on the climate are poorly designed, economically destructive, and beyond his constitutional limits. International emissions-reductions efforts should not be predicated on either course.

The United States needs an alternative climate policy to the one put forward by the Obama administration. If designed properly, that policy can also encourage international partners to reduce emissions with us, protect our economy from leaking jobs and emissions overseas, and give U.S. companies access to emerging markets for climate adaptation and mitigation technologies and services in the developing world.

The old playbook upon which the president relies doesn’t have the flexibility or authority to create such a policy. It must come down to congressional action.

That’s a big ask with a tricky political calculus. The Republican Party has not had a great track record of identifying solutions to climate change. Many are suspicious of the big-government intentions of the environmental left and repeated government overreach from the Obama administration. But Republicans have overseen every major environmental legislative achievement. Air and water are cleaner and the economy more productive because the GOP has uniquely appreciated the delicate trade-offs associated with creating strong and sensible environmental policy.

With the right leadership, the political right has the answers. Directly pricing carbon, adjusting that price at the border, creating a technology-agnostic research and development agenda, and using our massive development engine to bring U.S. technological achievements to a broader market form the heart of a policy that conservatives can and should get behind. Couple any price on carbon with corresponding reductions to or the outright elimination of existing taxes, as well as the rollback of redundant regulations, and a conservative carbon policy can shrink the government and emissions alongside positive economic growth.

If we commit to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions while affording new and growing economic opportunities to American businesses, international negotiations like those in Paris will be unnecessary. We can reduce emissions without fearing free riders, and might just encourage other countries to follow suit.

Catrina Rorke is a senior fellow and director of energy policy at R Street Institute.

31 Comments (Open | Close)

31 Comments To "A Conservative Answer to Climate Change"

#1 Comment By Jack Farrell On December 9, 2015 @ 12:50 am

I recently drove I-10W. All of Texas is wired with wind energy that is lifting oil and compressing gas, virtually for free. Tell me how that harms the USA or how anyone (except hedge funds that seek to tie up oil storage in the USA for their schemes).

There will be no free riding on American infrastructure. It is here, not the Middle East. There will be no polluting San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles and that means huge reductions in pollution from coal burning electrical generators and diesel engines on trucks, trains and automobiles.

#2 Comment By Roland Kayser On December 9, 2015 @ 1:34 am

I agree that putting a price on carbon and then letting the free market solve the problem is, by far, the best way to solve global warming. But it’s down right foolish to think that the current GOP will ever go along. That’s why we’re stuck with the president’s plan, even though it’s far from perfect.

#3 Comment By Rosita On December 9, 2015 @ 2:33 am

Now this is a proposal that I can get behind but does the current GOP have either the intellectual stamina or courage to propose something like this? Instead an overwhelming majority of Republicans espouse stupidity and idiocy on this subject. When even the oil and gas industry takes climate change seriously you know your credibility is shot. Best of luck and god speed in pushing this agenda with the political right.

#4 Comment By Mike Alexander On December 9, 2015 @ 7:14 am

Oh come on now:
Author: The Republican Party has not had a great track record of identifying solutions to climate change
Response: The Republican party denies there is a problem that requires solutions

Author: With the right leadership, the political right has the answers. Directly pricing carbon…
Response: Republicans are opposed to carbon pricing

Author: …creating a technology-agnostic research and development agenda
Response: Republicans are opposed to this too. It is unneeded if there is no problem.

#5 Comment By Ken T On December 9, 2015 @ 10:13 am

The problem of course is that whenever a market-based solution is proposed, as soon as liberals and Democrats say “OK, let’s try it”, the same conservatives and Republicans who proposed it immediately turn around 180 degrees and start screaming “Communism! Socialism! Destroying America!”

Remember “Cap-and-trade”? That was introduced by conservatives as a market-based solution. But liberals embraced it, so it is now anathema on the Right.

#6 Comment By LouisM On December 9, 2015 @ 11:01 am

I do believe in Global Warming but not the end of the world scenarios scare tactics of the leftists. I think the extremism contributes to the right dismissing the left as lunatics.

The evidence is overwhelming that solar is generating more power and ever decreasing cost. Currently solar is getting installed on large flat roofs on office buildings, factories and malls as well as solar farms. Soon thin transparent films on windows will be generating power.

Oil and Gas is continuing to change from a primary producer to a supplemental power needed to maintain consistent flow on the grid.

Lights are switching to LEDs
Cars are switching to hybrid or plug-in electric
Power Generation is switching to Solar and Wind

The level of garbage, sewage, fertilizer runoff, ocean plastic is insane. Power generation is well on its way to sustainability. The Level of waste and excel population are not…and that is where the real focus needs to be. Its not the west that needs to depopulate. The world simply cannot handle another 1-2-3 billion Asians, Africans, arabs (muslims).

Its not the western world (US, Canada, Europe, ANZ) that are power polluters. Its the developing world…and that’s what this is really all about. Its a kabuki show to get the developing world into cleaner sources of power. Fine but I don’t think the western world needs to tie itself into knots of convoluted taxes, laws and buracracy to achieve it.

#7 Comment By grumpy realist On December 9, 2015 @ 11:09 am

Makes one wonder–how bad will the climate have to get before the Republican Party admit that there is a problem. By which the time to implement a solution will, of course, have vanished.

I guess they all believe that there’s another planet we can move to after we trash this one. News to such people: no, Mars isn’t habitable and we can’t geoengineer it to hold an atmosphere because Mars doesn’t have anything like the Van Allen belts.

#8 Comment By Hankest On December 9, 2015 @ 11:11 am

Ted Cruz was on NPR this morning fully denying climate change and implying that it’s all a conspiracy by scientists or some such nonsense. I believe this view is shared by all the leading GOP contenders and most of the GOP senators/reps.

So, while a market solution is the best approach, and would be accepted by most Democrats and environmentalists, it will never be initiated by the current Republican party.

#9 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On December 9, 2015 @ 11:45 am

I agree with this article, but I would just add Peter Thiel’s recent suggestion that we should be building more new nuclear power plants in America. The newest designs, being built in Asia and Europe, are safer than ever and waste can be stored on site safely for at least a century. Of course to do that the government is going to have to get involved in a major way, particularly in the realm of regulatory reform. I’d say there’s little chance of that in the near term, however a more enterprising president in the next term might be able to reform outdated regulations.

#10 Comment By MikeCLT On December 9, 2015 @ 12:43 pm

Nuclear energy has to be a big part of the solution. But the Democrats will not accept nuclear energy under any circumstances.

Solar is still a long ways away. While we should continue to invest in R&D for this we cannot expect it to be a viable solution anytime soon.

Replace coal with natural gas as a bridge for the next two decades, ramp up nuclear (small scale reactors like on carriers), continue R&D for nuclear and hope for solar.

#11 Comment By Will Harrington On December 9, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

One of the biggest problems with government, regardless of policy, is the temptation to pick the solution to a problem. This is a temptation to cronyism and corruption, as well as political opposition. The government would be much better served by setting the goal (carbon neutral energy production and transportation) and creating a broad incentive that does not favor one solution over others (twenty years without taxes on industries that contribute to that goal). We will have no shortages of solutions.

#12 Comment By Franz Liebkind On December 9, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

creating a technology-agnostic research and development agenda . . . .

Such a program will inevitably produce another Solyndra, which will be used by the (almost always GOP) technologically and economically ignorant demagogues to divert attention away from the economic successes. The portfolio managed by Steven Chu’s DOE that included Solyndra was overall successful.

Naw, Congress is exactly the wrong place to expect coherent action, much less intelligence.

#13 Comment By Hankest On December 9, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

MikeCLT, your claim that democrats wll not accept nuclear energy under any cicumstance is simply not true. For example
[1]

or this:
[2]

#14 Comment By bt On December 9, 2015 @ 1:56 pm

“With the right leadership, the political right has the answers”

——————————————-

This is like Charlie Brown and the football.

Republicans float these market-based ideas, as an alternative to regulation. Then when it look like someone might actually follow-through and enact these sensible market-based initiatives. They at the last minute they will pull the football away say no. Job-killing, freedom-sucking gouvernment must be stopped.

And Democrats are suckers to play along. This is just as it was with Obamacare.

If the republican party was actually interested in doing something about climate change (or our dysfunctional medical ‘system’), this article would be very sensible. But they aren’t.

This article is just part of the con. Unless the Author would care to elaborate with ‘the right leadership’ means in the context of the Today’s Republican Party.

It is not 1968, when Richard Nixon signed into law the endangered species act, the clean water act, the clean air act, the endangered species act and created the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the EPA. THAT Republican Party is long gone.

#15 Comment By Hankest On December 9, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

Will, that idea is in place in states that have mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards and Renewable Energy Credit markets.

Ohio is now even allowing nuclear energy to be considered in the portolio, i expect other states will follow suit.

#16 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On December 9, 2015 @ 5:47 pm

I favor “solar power via the moon.” An interesting article,available online, has that phrase as its title. On the other hand, the U.S. may lack the engineering capacity. My understanding is that the Japanese have been quietly pursuing such a project. Good for them.

#17 Comment By Johann On December 9, 2015 @ 6:40 pm

There is the Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and all that reduce pollution. Those have had overall good results. Its that kind of action that China and India need. China has a terrible pollution problem.

Its ok to call CO2 a greenhouse gas, and acknowledge that it absorbs infrared radiation radiated from the ground that would otherwise escape into space, but I believe its wrong and misleading to call it pollution. What the optimum level should be in the atmosphere for us humans is debatable. Its good for plants, and some warming of the earth will create immensely more arable land, like for example in Canada and Siberia. And the geological record, somewhat counter-intutively, shows that when the earth is cooler, the deserts grown, and when warmer, the deserts shrink. The CO2 definitely must affect the global temperature. The problem with the activists is that they claim that it will be catastrophic for all life. The fact that every study shows only bad affects of global warming should be a red flag for everyone. The thing is, the study teams go out with the objective of finding bad things resulting from global warming.

Save the sea level rise scare response. Its been rising straight line 2mm/year for centuries, with no increase in the slope.

#18 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 9, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

“When even the oil and gas industry takes climate change seriously you know your credibility is shot.”

Aeveral years ago I was at a Forbes CEO Conference in Scotland. The three day even was all about climate and green house industry alternatives.

Session after session was all about green house energy. Included in those sessions was the level of subsidies and curiously enough, the promise juxtaposed against the costs. Frankly, nothing that was discussed was asystem hat stood on its own. In otherwords, no green energy was viable.

By the end of the second day, I corralled on of the Forne’s execs and several others and asked them pointedly just why they so focussed on systems that were not viable. There response was matter of fact and very simple.

This is where the market is heading. They meant by that the political and social pressures. not the veracty of “global” warming/climate change.

There is not a single system that operates to financial gain on its own. But the subsidies for developing them regardless of how costly were it and very popular for marketing.

The question of climate change or global warming is more publicity factor and social science “feel good” over fact. It makes sense to go along.

#19 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 9, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

‘ . . .the clean water act, the clean air act, the endangered species act and created the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the EPA.”

Despite the numerous mistakes made by environmentalists in that period. Pres. Nixon to his credit was responded to a very consistent presentation of factual pullution and species extinction. And nearly all circumstances the science was predicated on specific incidents resulting from specific consequences. Those organizations were initially to advise and to some extent adjudicate those issues.

There were tasked with designing a national or international policy a phenomenon, that remains highly speculative and for which the data sets by responsible scientists and communities are contradictory. Pehaps it is not the Republicans that have left the building, but rather a steady stream of conflicting information about what and the how to’s.

#20 Comment By Nelson On December 9, 2015 @ 8:38 pm

Republicans are good at coming up with solutions to problems when they want to. The problem is they don’t want to.

#21 Comment By Myron Hudson On December 9, 2015 @ 8:53 pm

The right may have the answers somewhere, but the only ones in evidence so far are NO and snowballs in Congress. Part of the right has managed to frame environmental awareness, conservation and alternate energy technologies as a leftist thing, relegating it to culture war status. Much discussion is focused on discrediting “leftists” and identifying us in the construction and renewable energy industry as Obama-worshippers. It has become an either-or, all or nothing thing. A local Republican said, some years back, that conservation was conservative. However that was politically incorrect. I don’t see the right side of Government stepping too far out of line on this. Which is a shame.

#22 Comment By russ On December 9, 2015 @ 10:38 pm

Ronald Reagan was firmly in support of the emerging crisis of CO2 during his presidency. Here’s just how far he went as evidenced by documents in the Reagan Presidential Library. Perhaps he would have some things to teach to today republicans. [3]

#23 Comment By balconesfault On December 10, 2015 @ 11:17 am

Couple any price on carbon with corresponding reductions to or the outright elimination of existing taxes, as well as the rollback of redundant regulations, and a conservative carbon policy can shrink the government and emissions alongside positive economic growth.

The problem with the whole revenue neutral concept of carbon taxation – is that natural gas is so incredibly cheap today, and into the forseeable future – that the carbon tax that would be needed to economically incentivize a major shift away from natural gas to more wind, solar, and yes – even nuclear – would be so high that politicians from both sides of the aisles would be screaming bloody murder, no matter how big the tax cuts elsewhere might be.

Now, if the revenues from the taxes were spent instead on subsidizing the expansion of more wind and solar, as well as expanding and improving the utility grid infrastructure needed to bring wind and solar generated power to market and to handle the grid instability problems that will result from increased wind/solar on the grid … well, then we’d have a proposal that could accomplish something. Couple that with increased subsidies to electric-based transportation (rail, electric vehicles) so we can reduce the 400,000,000 gallons of gasoline we spend moving boxes on wheels around each day.

btw, this is an economic winner for the country as well, because modest subsidies to renewable energy production and electric transmission have been proven to stimulate a huge amount of private investment in America, much of it from foreign sources. Expanded rail infrastructure could reduce our highway spending, and if there’s an area that’s really open to innovation it’s still the electric car industry – and with the right incentives industry would be spending a lot more private capital to accomplish this as well. Al Gore kind of talked about these ideas during the 2000 campaign – and George Bush actually pledged to regulate CO2 during that campaign as well – but we saw how that worked out in the long run …

Nuclear? Well, Obama expanded loan guarantees for nuclear very early in his term. But industry is very wont to go after them – because unlike Europe, the US is awash in natural gas for the forseeable future, and has plenty of great wind resource land to keep expanding our wind power – and as utilities do the math there’s a dangerously high chance that in 8-10 years when a plant is ready to be commissioned it won’t be able to recoup it’s costs. In fact, there are currently a number of operating nukes who are considering closure because they are losing millions of dollars a year trying to compete with $2-3/MBTU natural gas.

For the US to start building nukes again, it will take a MASSIVE direct DOE investment. Not exactly a “small government” solution. There are certainly some rational arguments for us making that decision on a societal basis, but I don’t think conservatives really the government essentially taking over a pretty big chunk of the utility industry.

#24 Comment By JonPatrick On December 10, 2015 @ 11:30 am

There is a considerable body of evidence that the earth is not warming as fast as originally predicted by the computer models. Also we do not know for sure that this warming is anthropogenic. Also more likely lower level of warming is not expected to be detrimental and may actually be beneficial. Yet in spite of this we persist in signing on to the alarmist viewpoint, in spite of the damage this will cause to our economy. Doesn’t matter much if it is a free market or government imposed carbon tax, it is still a tax.

#25 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 10, 2015 @ 1:58 pm

“Much discussion is focused on discrediting “leftists” and identifying us in the construction and renewable energy industry as Obama-worshippers. It has become an either-or, all or nothing thing.”

I don’t think that is accurate. The discussion is on the science which is deeply confliting. If youhave the science correct, then you should be able to make predictions on effects, minus some chaotic anooly.

The earth is warming is contended, but that that is the result of manmade processes , natural or a combination is hardly sustained by the evidence. And to ignore data sets that contradict the claim all together because they are inconvenient isn’t science either. There are more issues than just these. But they are foundational enough to leave off.

Designing solution for a nonexistent problem is problematic o say the least. Deigning a sysem for something as complex as what is being claimed that will yield minimal results is troubling.

There is no question that we need to be environemntally responsible for our use of the planet. To overcharge merely to make a nonexistent case is going to eventually where thin. And that is the largest hurdle to overcome. The case does not match the evidence, the solutions don’t solve and cost far more than they benefit.

And on a purely political level, it’s disasterously as hegemononically oriented as colonialism as the biggest abisers and problem causers point their guilty fingers at deveoping nations and tell them they must convert to systms they cannot fford and systems they have to adopt, for a fee from those most gilty of the damamge.

There are so many nonstarters it’s a wonder that anyone takes climate change advocates seriously at all.

There is money to be made by being environemnetally freindly and responsible. Let’s start there. Let’s start by saying, you want to frack, fine. But if you cause harm to local residence, and damamge the environemnt balance that t becomes a threat to what exits, — you will pay through the nose. You will pay every hospital bill, etc.

Good grief, that’ what businesses understand.

#26 Comment By balconesfault On December 10, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

@JonPatrick There is a considerable body of evidence that the earth is not warming as fast as originally predicted by the computer models

Nobody gets to just do this hand waving anymore. Point us to the evidence you’re referencing, thank you?

@EliteCommInc. In otherwords, no green energy was viable.

No “green” energy is viable when the external costs of fossil fuels are spread throughout society. What are the long term costs to have to deal with the effects of climate change? Those are not priced into what you pay at the gas pump, or what the power plant pays for the coal or natural gas it burns.

@Johann The problem with the activists is that they claim that it will be catastrophic for all life.

Only silly activists claim it will be catastrophic for ALL life (although I will readily grant that there are some silly activists). Certainly, some forms of life will prosper with increasing temperatures. Whether it will be ideal for sustaining a population of 9 billion people on earth … while allowing Americans to enjoy the standard of living that we’ve come to expect … is another question. Thanks to inactivity we’re currently running an experiment to see what the answer to that question will be. Unfortunately, if we don’t like the answer, we’re not going to have much we can to do reverse the experimental conditions.

The earth will survive. It just may not be as friendly to us as it’s been for a long long time …

#27 Comment By Martin Ranger On December 10, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

The fact that “directly pricing” is either a conservative or a market-based approach would be news to me. In fact, the hole concept of an externality makes a market-base approach impossible. Cap and trade while allowing trading in emission rights still goes back to the government determining the initial emissions rights. In any case, conservatives seem to be pretty much opposed to this, too.

#28 Comment By bt On December 10, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

“Designing solution for a nonexistent problem is problematic to say the least”

At some point even people who want to doubt what the scientific consensus is should really consider this as a game of chance. For a denier, it can’t be the case that they think warming is NOT man-made. The whole contention is that it may or may not be man-caused. At least, now that most have been forced to finally agree that the world is warming.

So the game of chance is what are the odds that humans are the cause? 50/50? If 95% of scientists say its human caused, marking the odds down to 50/50 is already a huge concession to deniers. I mean look at the numbers: the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has doubled in around 100 years and that’s all man-made! Wouldn’t you think that such a drastic change to atmosphere could have some side-effects?

Let’s say the odds are even longer, 25/75 against. With the kinds of effects being predicted, I would think even 1 out of 4 odds that it’s human would make someone want to say, maybe we should reduce carbon emissions just to be safe.

There’s going to be some bad stuff here, half of Florida is predicted to go underwater. The eastern seaboard is going to be wiped out. Saudi Arabia will become uninhabitable – wait until that crew goes all refugee on us! And by reducing carbon, we also get past a lot of other pollution and we take away cash flow from a lot of rotten countries. And in the long run these renewable are going be cheaper too. It’s like we should reduce our carbon use even if there wasn’t global warming.

The resistance to this just seems so baked in. It’s all about fighting the hippies or something.

#29 Comment By cdugga On December 11, 2015 @ 10:38 am

Yes of course. The author astutely points out that, besides the middle east quagmire, besides the financial meltdown and besides not being tough enough with russians and chinese, and allowing hordes of unskilled immigrants into the country, the obama administration is also responsible for allowing climate change to continue. Coming soon, after all the details are worked out, president obama is responsible for AR massacres.

#30 Comment By balconesfault On December 11, 2015 @ 11:39 am

@bt The resistance to this just seems so baked in. It’s all about fighting the hippies or something.

The resistance is baked in, because as the earlier discussions have shown … there’s no way to significantly reduce the amount of carbon we’re pumping into the atmosphere not only without big government … but without coordination of big governments around the world.

You’re basically running headlong into two major biases, and the reaction of many on the right is to basically deny that there is a real threat, or to deny that there is a way for the coordinated efforts of our big government and other big governments could do anything to reduce the threat.

That allows libertarian/conservatives to conclude that this is all some sort of conspiracy between scientists who are willing to distort data and sacrifice their legacy to reap research grants, and politicians and activists who just want to back door a way to create new government command-and-control structures.

You call it a game of chance. What it really is, as I noted above (and as others have said) is a big experiment. Because the naysayers are determined to resist believing the models, the current data, etc … until the experiment has run its course, and we see if we really do get a 2 degree rise, and then a 4 degree rise, etc … ect … and we see what the impacts on ecosystems and disease vectors and airable lands and water resources and sea levels and our oxygen supply, etc, etc, eventually may be.

If the outcomes of the experiment are essentially irreversible, so be it. At least we’ll have certainty before we actually act in a meaningful way.

#31 Comment By visitor On December 13, 2015 @ 6:24 pm

Ok, let’s discuss “free riders”. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently held that fracking companies can be sued over the damages that they cause. Earthquakes have gone from an average of less than 2 a year in 2008 to 585 in 2014 and way more than that in 2015. Less review: from less than 2 to 585 in 6 years. In spite of the state recognizing without question that this is due to fracking, a law was passed making it illegal for towns or counties to forbid fracking in their areas. The companies, of course, argued that they should not be liable. They expect to make money extracting resources from the area while avoiding paying the costs of that extraction, instead leaving it to the population to bear the cost. I live in West Virginia where chemical companies pollute the water and then file bankruptcy when found out so that nothing is paid to those who are damaged. Similarly mining companies are found in violation of safety regulations and are fined but often those fines are still uncollected 10, 15 and even 20 years down the road.

The United States contributes far more to global warming and other environmental damages than most areas of the world and ridiculously more than the poorest areas of the world. And yet it is those areas that bear most of the damages. It is the same thing as fracking in Oklahoma but on a much larger scale. WE are the free riders and have been for a very long time.

Capitalism is a great system, no question. The best I believe. But unfettered and unregulated, it will foist its costs on anyone it possibly can in order to add more to the bottom line.

Free riders, indeed.