Biggest change in economy ever

June 9, 2008

by Roz Kohls

Fans of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” will remember the Crystalline Entity. It was a huge lattice of crystal. The Crystalline Entity devoured all organic life on a planet within a half-hour. The characters in the show, who were the inhabitants of the galaxy where the Crystalline Entity prowled, were terrified of it.

This week the US Senate is scheduled to vote on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, (S-2191,) a Crystalline Entity for the US economy. The Wall Street Journal called it “the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s.”

Lieberman-Warner is a cap-and-trade scheme that will result in $1.2 trillion in new federal revenue between 2009 and 2018. That’s trillion, with a “t.”

Here is how it will work: a business that has the potential to create pollution, such as a coal-burning electric plant, will have a cap on how much carbon pollution it is allowed to make.

First, scarcity will be artificially put into the market, so the price of electricity will go up.

Second, if the electric company goes over the cap, it can “buy” credits from an industry that doesn’t produce much pollution, such as a grower of organic tomatoes. It is unlikely for the organic tomato grower to go over his cap, so he has carbon units to spare.

The credits would be traded on a market not unlike a stock exchange, with brokers who will make a commission on these sales. A whole new industry will develop, based on trading these credits.

The cost of the purchase of the credits and the broker’s commission will be passed on to the consumers of the electricity.

Not just energy, but everything in our society will cost more, even organic tomatoes. Produce still needs to be transported to the store. The truck manufacturer, the trucking company, fuel producers for the truck, and the store with its refrigeration and air conditioning, all will be paying for going over their caps.

Just like with the Crystalline Entity, nothing will escape the effects of this legislation.

Contact our senators now and tell them what you think. Sen. Norm Coleman (R) can be reached at (202) 224-5641. Sen Amy Klobuchar (DFL) can be reached at (202) 224-3244.