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Capitol Corner: Americans Should Learn from Europe's "Collapsing" Carbon Market

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Cap and trade is a giant energy tax on American companies pushed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. It would cap the amount of emissions companies are allowed. Companies who do not use all of their emission credits could then trade them on an unregulated market. Big government Democrats see it as a way to force companies to lower their carbon emissions and "save" the environment.

They are, as usual, wrong.

First of all, it would be a huge tax on American companies. In 2010 when it was being debated in Congress, it was estimated it would cost American businesses close to $650 billion in new taxes. That would force companies to cut jobs -- anywhere from 1.8 million to 7 million jobs. Second, it was estimated energy costs would rise on average by more than $3,100 a year. So at a time when the American economy is still fragile and unemployment remains high, Democrats wanted to raise taxes, destroy jobs, and force American families to pay more for their energy. Not a great idea.

The cap and trade system President Obama and Congressional Democrats were pushing for in 2009 and 2010 (and still want to enact today) is similar to the system Europe uses and -- that system is currently failing. When it was new in August of 2008, carbon emission credits were trading for as high as $40 per ton. Now, less than five years later, they have fallen to less than $4 per ton. That's because as technology improves and cleaner energy becomes cheaper and more readily available, overall emissions levels are dropping throughout Europe. It's getting so bad over there that even the managing director of carbon finance at Conservation International in Arlington, VA, Agustin Silvani, has described the European carbon market as "collapsing."

In the United States, we are also seeing overall emissions levels dropping -- without the threat of cap and trade -- proving government regulation is not the answer. Instead, we need to adopt an all-of-the-above energy plan like House Republicans have been promoting for years. The plan should incorporate traditional forms of energy that are readily available now like oil, coal, and natural gas, as well as promoting research and development of new, cleaner forms of energy. But forcing American families and companies to abandon our current cheap forms of energy that the Obama Administration deems not "green' enough will only mean higher energy costs.

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