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Monday, January 11, 2010

CLANG CLANG CLANG – ROUND ONE COMMENCES

((ANNOUNCER)): GOOD EVENING, ladies and gentlemen, WELCOME to this edition of CLIMATE CHANGE FIGHTS. Our first card of this year is a RILLY big show!

In THIS corner, weighing in at 1 million pounds, is the state of Minnesota. In the opposing corner, weighing in at 500k pounds, is the state of North Dakota. What’s at stake? The future of clean air and coal-fired electrical generation!

Yes indeedy, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it's round one in the 2010 fight against global warming!!! and Minnesota has landed the first punch against coal-fired electricity that crosses its borders!!! The state is trying to put an UN-American tax on carbon dioxide turned out by coal plants in North Dakota!!! Geez, folks, what’s MORE important that electrical power generation done by dirty coal plants? Breatheable air? Ladies and gentlemen, global warming and climate change are figments of a spin-doctor’s fevered imagination!

Sad to say, that’s precisely what’s being said nowadays about climate change and global warming. It’s a figment of the overheated imaginations of hucksters like Al Gore and the climatological scientific community. There’s even a very heated discussion going on LinkedIn ( The White House group, Anti-Climate Change E-mails) regarding the subject. Spin doctors and overheated discussions aside, Minnesota is showing some backbone regarding the “clean coal” industry. I for one am glad to see it, even if it basically comes to naught.

There’s been a lot of howling and yowling about carbon tariffs in the past from sovereign nations that want to stick a tax on items that are produced in polluting industries. Minnesota's move is the first of its kind from a state. Right this cosmic instant, state laws don’t mandate a carbon tariff, it just provides the framework to create such a pricing mechanism IF a tax on carbon emissions becomes necessary in the future. Minnesota is currently looking at pricing guidelines for a likely utility rate increase in 2012, and is seriously hoping to pressure its neighbor to the west to drop coal and embrace renewable energy sources. North Dakota has ample wind energy potential and has even been called the "Saudi Arabia of Wind." It’s even windier there than it is in Texas, which is saying something. The fee, which would be formulated as and perform similarly to a regular tax, would probably range in price from $4 to $34 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions that are produced by coal-fired power plants in North Dakota. Right now, there are seven operating coal plants and six active coal plant proposals in North Dakota, according to CoalSwarm, an information portal on coal issues.

There are a lot of economists and climate scientists that have argued in favor of a global carbon tax. Paul Krugman of The New York Times, for example, has advocated for imposing a carbon tariff on China in hopes it will help the country curb their growing carbon output. Likewise, consumer advocate Ralph Nader has supported a carbon tax and is in opposition to a market based carbon-trading system. This is the first new idea that ol’ Ralphie-baby’s come up with in his life, and it’s a really good one.

"A tax on CO2 emissions - not a cap-and-trade system - offers the best prospect of meaningfully engaging China and the U.S., while avoiding the prospect of unhinged environmental protectionism," wrote Nader and Toby Heaps in a December 2008 issue of The Wall Street Journal. "An effective, harmonized tax on C02 emissions must stabilize the growth of atmospheric concentrations of GHGs [greenhouse gases] by no later than 2020. The tax must also be adjusted annually, by a global body, according to this objective."

What’s hilarious about the entire thing is that, in the end, this tax will probably prove to be unConstitutional. You heard me right: UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

According to Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution, "No State shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws ..." If such an argument holds up, the carbon tariff could and in all probability WOULD be deemed unconstitutional if not accepted by Congress. And, gangers, somehow I DO NOT think that it will be accepted, by Congress or anybody else, for that matter.

This isn’t the first time that proposed carbon taxes, or carbon tariffs as well, have been met with outrage, and it probably won’t be the last, either. Last July, the United States Chamber of Commerce spoke out about the prospect of taxing imports from polluting countries. "We urge the Senate to refrain from including provisions that could negatively impact U.S. relations with key trading partners and disrupt the global trading systems," the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Foreign Trade Council, and two other groups wrote in a letter to Senate leaders. "Climate change is a global problem that calls for international cooperation, not unilateral ultimatums."

The scientific community, of course, has an entirely different viewpoint. According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, coal pollutants damage every major organ in the human body and contribute to four of the top five leading causes of death in the United States, not to mention climate change.

North Dakota ranks No. 8 in the US for the levels of toxic metals in the state's coal waste. This waste goes everywhere: into the air, the soil, the groundwater, and is carried everywhere that the wind blows, the water flows and animal feed is sold. Not to mention, of course, that the milk and meat industries feed this crap – the contaminated feed – to their animals, which means that the kiddos are getting a great daily dose of heavy metals and other contaminants in their milk, the people that buy beef, chicken, pork and other meats from North Dakota are eating the same contaminants in their food, and nothing is, basically, being done to stop more coal-fired plants from coming online to create more pollution that isn’t being remediated, so more and more people will get sick, and not be able to breathe, so that . . . fill in the blank here.

Personally, I’m a’rootin’ for Minnesota to win this round. I’d rather pay more for clean, pollution-free power than a lot less for the same product. See, I’d rather breathe.

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