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Cap and Trade and Selling Out


Shortly after the Inauguration, President Obama and his new EPA head Carol Browner received a thank-you letter from over 325 conservation-oriented organizations, and within it were flowing words of praise for candidate Obama’s pledge of support for a doomed-to-fail cap and trade carbon economy and associated spending to “safeguard wildlife and natural resources from the impacts of global warming”.

A number of the groups behind the letter are the usual suspects; they sold their environmental souls years ago, if they ever had them at all. So it is no surprise to look down the list and find the likes of  The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Trout Unlimited, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

What is surprising is that these ‘conservation’ corporations were able to dupe so many other local, regional, and national organizations into supporting such a fraudulent approach to the problem of climate change.

A soulless organization like The Nature Conservancy pays more attention to its revenue streams and the whims of the corporate entities behind the dollars than it does to global warming, the pillaging of our national forests, and the levels of pollution in our rivers and lakes.  So of course it supports the creation of a new false economy that has great potential to generate cash flow for the stakeholders behind it.

But what of the environment? What of the “wildlife and natural resources”?

Any cap and trade system implemented in the United States, without global uniformity and regulation, will be full of holes, and carbon will continue to seep through them incessantly.  Big polluters can simply choose to relocate current or build new infrastructure and industry in places where there are few or no carbon controls. That may sit well if these 325 groups are simply advocating for protectionism and overzealous NIMBYism, but global “wildlife and natural resources” will continue to disappear at exponential rates, and environmental degradation will continue unabated.

Will The Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, and Oceana also be writing similar letters to the leadership in China and India, asking them to fit their carbon squares into our round cap and trade hole? Save a tree, and the paper. Their answer will be no.

A better letter – one worth more than the sheet upon which it is written, and one which none of the 325 groups apparently considered – would ask the Obama administration to start developing the foundation for a global carbon tax. Applied uniformly, such a tax could resist exploitation and corruption,  is enforceable through precise accounting,  and would provide direct revenues to countries for their use as they see fit.

And what of the environment? What of the “wildlife and natural resources”?

A stiff carbon tax would force current and future clean technologies to the forefront of development and retrofitting, and emissions reduction goals that seem far-fetched today could be realized more quickly.

All of those streams, forests, critters, and ecosystems these ‘environmental’ organizations say they are working so hard to protect might actually stand a fighting chance to make it through our collective climate mess.

And, with any luck, some of the 325 sellouts would go extinct instead.

GREGORY VICKREY works as a consultant for a variety of nonprofits. He can be reached at:


Gregory Vickrey is a consultant in the environmental and political arenas and may be reached at:

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