“The girl’s not playing with a full deck, Giles. She has almost no deck. She has a three.”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Faith, Hope and Trick.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) repeals the recently won authority the EPA has to regulate greenhouse gases, and replaces that authority with a loophole ridden cap-and-trade system. Those loopholes include offsets which legally counterfeit carbon credits with the help of clever consultants. They include weakening regulations on ethanol, which compares to oil in greenhouse gas intensity.  They include subsidies for coal. They encourage incinerators. Incinerators can be extremely greenhouse gas intensive compared to reduction, reuse and recycling of wastes – especially when they produce black carbon (soot and smoke).

If we want to stop global warming we need to reduce emissions. A bill that provides no reductions, or even smaller reductions than we currently have authority to enforce is a net loss. It would be one thing to support a weak law, that we might build on. It is quite another to support to a counterproductive law that makes things worse. Half a loaf may be better than none. Letting the fat boys grab our last slice of bread is not.

A good comparison might be the misleadingly named Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which required electronic voting machines and more voter purges after the scandal ridden 5-4 victory of George Bush over Al Gore in the 2000 election.  A combination of flawed machines, flawed procedures at the state and local levels, and purges of eligible voters made the U.S. voting system worse rather than better. The Waxman-Markey ACES bill will do for the climate what HAVA did for American democracy. Supporting it as “better than nothing” is not a pragmatic choice.

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