No Pain With Cap-And-Trade

The Web has been full of reports and analyses over the past few days of the surprisingly low cost to an average household of the proposed cap-and-trade legislation. Here is how MarketWatch describes the cost:

The bill, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee in May, calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. It could reach the full House for a vote this summer.

Released late Friday, the CBO report said that the net annual economy-wide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion, or about $175 a household.

Advocates of the legislation hailed the report as evidence that the cost to Americans from the legislation would be modest.

Lots of bloggers that are all in on the bill have been hailing these results. Here and here are a couple of links to some blog thoughts.

I don’t intend to challenge the CBO analysis, I’ll take it at face value. Quite frankly I’m pleased that this isn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. Though I’m left with the nagging question of what’s the point.

I thought the intent of the legislation was to lower green house gas emissions and that it would accomplish that lofty goal by increasing the price of carbon based energy. You know, make it more expensive and people will use less of it. Pretty fundamental economics. But if it’s not going to cost any of us a meaningful amount of money why are we going to worry about leaving the lights on?

I’m sure I must be missing something here. I can’t imagine that the government would pull a bait-and-switch on me and raise the costs after they get the law on the books. Would they?

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