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Cap and trade prospects continue to dim

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
September 17, 2010

Multiple media outlets are reporting today on a push to halt enacting a law designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in California, entitled A.B. 32.

Emissions reduction, no matter how you slice it, seems to be about as polarizing a topic as there is in the political landscape—and subsequently the freight transportation sector.

As an article in The New York Times pointed out, there are widely differing opinions on GHG reduction in the United States, and that is heightened by the fact that “the battle over cap and trade in America is taking place in California on Nov. 2 of this year,” said Dan Logue, a Republican assemblyman from north-central California,” in the NYT article. The article goes on to note that Logue is the one behind this initiative and added that: “What we’re saying is, this is not the time for political correctness. This is a time for putting America back to work; let the experiments happen later.”
Political experiments being cap-and-trade, that is.

Take a look at how the report defines A.B. 32:
“A.B. 32, mandates slashing carbon and other greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, by forcing power companies and industries to cap their emissions and by slashing carbon in gasoline. Some oil industry leaders said it would force them to invest millions of dollars to comply, and asserted that it would force companies to cut jobs and raise the price of gas at the pumps.”

Basically, there is little difference between this proposal and the cap-and-trade proposal in Congress, which was passed by the House and shot down by the Senate earlier this year.

While energy prices are largely in check, with diesel prices, as an example, remaining below $3 per gallon for 16 straight weeks, the heightened onus on all things “green” and emissions reduction can sometimes seem to take a back seat at the political table, of late…especially with mid-term elections mere weeks away.

But that does not take away from the fact that the United States still has a fierce dependency on fossil fuels, as evidence by the exorbitant prices U.S. businesses spend on oil and gas imported by Middle Eastern nations that are not our biggest fans.

Even so, something needs to be done to address our quandary when it comes to fossil fuel dependence. The last thing we need is a return to the “good old (bad) days” of 2008, when oil and gas prices reached nearly $5 per gallon and $150 per barrel. That was not fun for anybody and will be even less fun should it happen again, given the long, slow, crawl out of the Great Recession we are facing at the moment.

If the tides turn from a Democratic-led Congress to a Republican-led one in November, cap and trade officially turns to “cap and fade,” which many in the transportation sector will take as a victory in the sense that it will keep costs down in the short term. But at the end of the day—and I am not being political here—it may only exacerbate what happens down the road if our political leaders (regardless of party affiliation) continue to fail to take some measured and meaningful steps toward real energy independence for our great country.

Yes—things are happening on that front but MORE needs to happen to truly make a difference. Are we on the right track yet? If not, when will we be?

Newsroom notes welcomes your opinion on this issue which is not going away anytime soon.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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