I just received an email from Change.org and the Alliance for Climate Protection, entitled “Don’t Let BP Win!” Ah good, I thought, the left has decided to campaign against the liability cap on offshore oil spills that almost certainly introduces moral hazard into decision-making on safety. But no, the email wasn’t about that. It was about “comprehensive climate and energy legislation,” alleging that “Stalling climate and energy legislation would be a big win for oil companies like BP, but a huge loss for the rest of us.” Unfortunately for Change.org and Al Gore’s Alliance, the exact opposite is true.
BP and other big energy interests like Shell and Duke Energy have been campaigning *for* “comprehensive climate and energy legislation” for years. In this they were following Enron’s lead. That energy giant hailed the Kyoto Protocol as doing more to advance Enron’s interests than any other proposal. BP and its fellows therefore helped found the Climate Action Partnership in 2007, a lobbying organization aimed at passing “comprehensive climate and energy legislation.”
How can this be? The explanation is simple enough – cap and trade, the central objective of comprehensive climate and energy legislation, helps create what is called a “carbon cartel,” which enriches energy providers and government at the expense of you and me. That’s why the Kerry-Lieberman Bill that the email is talking about would cost households each over $1000 a year. Passing this comprehensive legislation would actually be a big win for BP and a huge loss for the rest of us.
Of course, despite the duplicity from Change.org and the Alliance, the politicians on Capitol Hill know that cap and trade is so unpopular that it is commonly known and cap and tax. So they’re unlikely to pass Kerry-Lieberman as it stands. But they have a cunning plan. The plan is for the Senate to pass any form of energy legislation, probably under the guise of an anti-BP “clean up the Gulf” bill, and then reinstate cap and trade in conference with the House, which passed cap and trade by a slim majority last summer, preferably during the Lame Duck session after the November elections.
If that happens, not only will it be a massive slap in the face for American voters in what is supposed to be a democracy, but BP and its colleagues will start laughing all the way to the bank. And Change.org and the Alliance for Climate Protection will have helped to enrich BP at our expense.
Iain Murray is a Vice-President at the Competitive Enterprise Institute