Among Cap and Trade, RES, and CES, Which Would Work Best? The One That’s Not Currently Under Consideration

After the death of Waxman-Markey, and given the current political climate, cap and trade is the Legislation Which Shall Not Be Named. Instead, there is discussion of either a renewable electricity standard (RES) or clean electricity standard (CES), and the talking points for supporters concern energy security and the growth of a clean energy economy, not climate change (also known as the Reality Which Shall Not Be Named).

Either an RES or an CES would spur use of alternatives to fossil fuels in electricity generation and would lead to decreases in CO2 emissions. However, as a report issued yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office highlighted, neither an RES nor a CES could reduce carbon emissions in as cost-effective a manner as could a cap and trade system. Moreover, a cap and trade program would ensure a certain level of GHG reductions, while the GHG impact of any particular RES or CES program would be uncertain.

I still don’t understand how a market-based regulatory approach that originally had to be sold to skeptical environmentalists because it was seen as a “license to pollute” has become the poster child for government overreaching.

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