Here at the L we love The Mustache of Justice, but the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s cap-and-trade bill — which doesn’t set a penalty for exceeding the carbon cap — may turn out to be pretty toothless, says Elizabeth Kolbert, who oughta know:
The whole point of a cap-and-trade plan is, from an economics point of view, it’s really a tax by another name.…The point is to raise the price of carbon-based energy, so that other forms of energy become more competitive, so that people have an incentive to reduce the amount of carbon they are emitting. That’s the whole point. If it doesn’t do that, you might as well not do it. And so the price point is extremely important. And if it’s essentially zero, which seems to be what we’re heading towards, then it’s just a nice framework, and you can say, Well, maybe some day it will do something—but you can’t really say it’s doing anything right now.