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Eric de Place's Posts

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Paul Krugman Versus Matt Taibbi

I love reading Matt Taibbi. I mean, who else puts together a sentence like this?: The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. Funny and righteous at the same time. Good stuff. But in a piece he wrote for Rolling Stone this past July, he made some awfully curious -- and curiously unsupported -- allegations about carbon markets: ...if the Democratic Party that [Goldman-Sachs] gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised …

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Have Cap-and-Trade Programs Been

I've got an emerging obsession: the risk of market manipulation in cap and trade programs. It's something you hear about all the time, at least in carbon policy circles, but the details about "gaming" always seem to be in very short supply. Still, it's something we should take a close look at because the alleged consequences are so severe. So at the moment, I'm gearing up to read everything important that's been written on the subject. (If you know of good stuff, please send it my way.) In the meantime, I want to share this recent short brief written by economist Laurence DeWitt at Pace …

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If Thoreau had been on the Internet

The future of storytelling?

Recently, I had the good fortune to encounter some folks who may well be the next generation of great environmental storytellers: Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele. They're producing short multimedia pieces that are just riveting. My favorite is a five minute story about the ways that climate change is affecting reindeer herders in Norway, but there are other gems too that are closer to home: snow-making at Snoqualmie Pass in Washington, fire-fighting in the Cascade Mountains, and sustainable job-training in a Puget Sound prison. It's not as if Drummond and Steele invented multimedia -- in fact, high-quality multimedia is getting cheaper and easier to produce all …

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Free Market Parking From Canada

My cries have been answered. In Canada, at least, there is such a thing as a free market think tank with a free market perspective on parking policy. The Winnipeg-based Frontier Centre for Public Policy recently published a concise little position paper, "How Free Is Your Parking?" by Stuart Donovan. It makes three points, briefly: 1. Parking regulations suppress economic activity: Parking regulations suppress economic activity in a number of ways. Most importantly parking regulations tie up large areas of urban land and reduce the space available for other, potentially more-productive, uses... The Toronto Parking Authority estimates the costs for constructing parking in the …

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Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill: Preliminary Thoughts

*** This is a preliminary summary of a huge bill, so it's not Sightline's final answer. Look for a more thorough and polished analysis next week. *** Weighing in at 821 pages, the Kerry-Boxer climate bill introduced into the US Senate yesterday is officially a whopper, though it's certainly more svelte than the companion House bill that it substantially mirrors. (Apparently, it's Kerry-Boxer, not Boxer-Kerry, despite what you may have heard.) Update, 1:20: quick aside on the price ceiling: Lots of folks asking what I think about the "price collar" approach in this bill, especially the price ceiling that appears to be a …

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Get ready to hear more of this

“It’s too expensive to price carbon,” the entrenched interests like to say

Once the pending climate legislation gets active in the Senate, Americans can look forward to another outpouring of concern about low-income families. What's especially fun is that we'll get to hear it from political players who aren't usually too concerned about equity -- from record-breaking profiteers like Exxon to the same elected officials who slash social services. Now personally, I'd be delighted if Exxon really did take a genuine interest in poor consumers. And I'd be thrilled if the self-styled deficit hawks wrung their calloused hands with worry over energy bills and tight family budgets. But mostly -- and sadly -- it will be a ruse to defend the …

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Eat your spinach

Cap and trade works!

Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) on the radio last week: You have to believe in a tooth fairy to believe that we can regulate a cap-and-trade system. Say what?! That's an odd thing to say. Cap and trade markets have been in existence for well over a decade -- and the programs have worked quite well. There are already two operational carbon cap and trade systems: the EU's ETS and the northeastern states RGGI program. Neither system has exhibited evidence of gaming or market manipulation. (The previous problems with the ETS were much hyped by carbon-pricing opponents, but these were largely …

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McDermott’s cap and trade alternative may have unintended consequences

Washington's Congressman Jim McDermott just released a new climate plan, but I can't quite wrap my head around it. It gets some things right, but it may cause some relatively serious problems too. Here’s how he described it in a recent blog post: In brief, here’s how it would work: Producers of products and resources that emit greenhouse gases would be required to purchase a Federal Emission Permit. We establish a cap through permits that would be available in an increasingly limited supply. The price for a permit would be established by the Secretary of the Treasury and periodically calibrated …

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Everybody cool it

Regional climate policy is still moving forward in the Northwest

Over the last couple of weeks, there's been a lot of hand-wringing about the state of climate policy in the Northwest. Washington's citizen-backed renewable energy standard is in jeopardy and neither Oregon nor Washington appears close to implementing the Western Climate Initiative. Even British Columbia's pioneering carbon tax is taking fire. Freak out! Everybody panic! Or not. If you take a sober look at regional climate policy, you'll see that it's still percolating. Yes, it's true: things are not as good as we would like. Legislative prospects for regional cap and trade this year look dim. For the past six …

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Look who's hiring

McKinstry Company to hire about 500 people in next two to three years

Innovation -- a business model we can believe in. McKinstry Company is perhaps the most dynamic and interesting company in the Northwest right now. They're earning high-profile attention from President Barack Obama. And even in this economy, they're adding jobs and expanding. Check it out: SEATTLE -- Mayor Greg Nickels today presented McKinstry Company with a permit and approved plans for an expansion of its Georgetown facility in south Seattle. The company expects to hire an additional 500 people, a combination of professional and union craftsman, in the next two to three years. But how can anyone prosper right now? …

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