I was on a conference call earlier this week focused on cap-and-dividend. (You can download the MP3.)

C&D, if you don’t recall, is a kind of hybrid cap-and-trade/carbon tax developed by Peter Barnes. A fee would be levied on fossil fuels; the revenue would be refunded to citizens on an equal per capita basis. (Imagine the Alaska Permanent Fund on a much larger scale.)

The fee would be administered where fossil fuels enter the economy — mines, wells, refineries, etc. Permits would be auctioned based on a declining cap, slowly cutting off the flow of fossil fuels into the economy and guaranteeing emission reductions. Energy prices would rise, but the bottom 60-70 percent of Americans would find the additional cost more than offset by revenue received from the program. The middle class is "made whole," as proponents put it.

"If only there were an animated video that could explain cap-and-dividend more clearly!" you say. All right:

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On the call were Michael Livermore (Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Integrity), James Boyce (economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and Barnes (senior fellow at the Tomales Bay Institute).

I’ll admit to remaining wildly ambivalent about C&D, vexingly unable to develop the kind of clear, strident opinion the blogosphere demands.

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Over the next few days I’ll do a few short posts asking questions that continue to nag me about C&D. Hopefully some of its many eloquent advocates will edumacate me. One thing that’s sure is that fun will be had by all.