Friday, April 26, 2002
Paul "Line 47" Krugman praises Bush for his environmental policy in today's New York Times.
Yes, I'm kidding. I'll leave the thorough dissection of today's column up to some environmental expert, but I do want to make a couple of points.
Sure enough, the substantive part of the Bush administration's air pollution plan is a cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. So what is there to complain about? Alas, lots.
First, the plan conspicuously fails to include carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming. Aside from violating one of Mr. Bush's campaign pledges, this omission casts a long shadow over future policy. Environmental experts tell me that it would be much cheaper to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as part of an integrated, multi-pollutant strategy than to add on carbon dioxide controls later, after key investment decisions have already been made. So by doing nothing about global warming, this administration compromises the policies of future administrations too.
Carbon dioxide is expelled into the environment every time that Krugman opens his trap. Whether carbon dioxide contributes to global warming, and if it does, how much it contributes. Besides, if we really are successful then we'll have a massive die-off of trees. This would be bad -- and definitely Bush's fault.
Second, the Bush plan still allows twice as much pollution as experts at the Environmental Protection Agency privately think appropriate. The cost of an additional 50 percent reduction in pollution, according to internal E.P.A. documents, would be pretty small. But the administration apparently prefers not to ask industry to bear even those small costs.
Sorry, when it comes to estimating costs, I'm not going to take Krugman's, or the government's word for it. You know all those construction projects, highways, etc. that the government undertakes. How often do they come in on time and under budget? Never? Yeah, when they say it won't cost private industry or citizens much, excuse me if I don't believe it.
So what's actually on offer is a modest new pollution initiative, maybe, eventually, if and when the administration gets around to it. Don't you know there's a war on? And meanwhile the big polluters get what they paid for in campaign contributions: a multibillion-dollar free pass.
Yeah, and you know, when Bush has finished dumping toxic waste into Krugman's pool, he's going to start drowning kittens.