Writing an op-ed for the New York Times, Paul Krugman attacks three GOP talking points in the battle over the new EPA regulations proposing to reduce coal's carbon emission by 30% in The Climate Domino. Krugman lists the three primary Republican attacks on the proposed regulations as the "three C's: conspiracy, cost, and China."
Dismissing the idea of a vast international conspiracy by scientists around the world to commit a hoax, as craziness not worth responding to, Krugman moves on to address the issues that taking action to limit carbon emissions would wreak havoc on our economy, and that it doesn't matter what we do because China will just keep on polluting regardless of what we do.
Before admitting that there may be some small cost involved, he repeats his analysis of a few days ago, that in a depressed economy when we are leaving both significant amounts of labor and capital unused, so it is quite possible to argue that regulations requiring new investment to control carbon emissions could provide a Keynesian boost that might increase jobs, and not really cost anything, but that even if one did not argue this point the amount of the cost is small relative to the economy.
Going back to the much cited Chamber of Commerce study, that he says intended to show how terrible the costs of the E.P.A. policy would be, he notes that even making the least favorable assumptions the cost numbers came out to be "embarrassingly small,'' no economic disaster at all.
Claims that the effects will be devastating are, however, not just wrong but inconsistent with what conservatives claim to believe. Ask right-wingers how the U.S. economy will cope with limited supplies of raw materials, land, and other resources, and they respond with great optimism: the magic of the marketplace will lead us to solutions. But they abruptly lose their faith in market magic when someone proposes limits on pollution — limits that would largely be imposed in market-friendly ways like cap-and-trade systems. Suddenly, they insist that businesses will be unable to adjust, that there are no alternatives to doing everything energy-related exactly the way we do it now.
But what about the Chinese who might choose to ignore what we do? China is responsible for 27% of global carbon emissions, while we are only responsible for 17%. So we cannot succeed by acting alone.
That, however, is precisely why we need the new policy. America can’t expect other countries to take strong action against emissions while refusing to do anything itself, so the new rules are needed to get the game going. And it’s fairly certain that action in the U.S. would lead to corresponding action in Europe and Japan.
More specifically, if and when wealthy countries take serious action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, they’re very likely to start imposing “carbon tariffs” on goods imported from countries that aren’t taking similar action. Such tariffs should be legal under existing trade rules — the World Trade Organization would probably declare that carbon limits are effectively a tax on consumers, which can be levied on imports as well as domestic production. Furthermore, trade rules give special consideration to environmental protection. So China would find itself with strong incentives to start limiting emissions.
This is the third op-ed this week, I've seen Paul Krugman write in support of the Obama administrations proposed EPA regulations, and dismissing Republicans attacks which he note in this op-ed seem unfocused and lack-luster.
Krugman's strong arguments that the proposed reductions in coal emissions are sound greatly bolsters my confidence. His record on analyses like this has generally been right on target, and these arguments make a lot of common sense and seem supported by other data and studies.
3:36 PM PT: Please check out this rather scathing indictment of our DEA and DOJ in DEA targets doctors linked to state legal medical marijuana clinics in MA reports Boston Globe