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And the president commended Republicans in Congress for supporting $12 billion in tax credits for wind energy manufacturers and producers. If bioethanol and wind power really could compete with conventional power sources, they wouldn’t need mandates and subsidies.
The president’s plan proposes to aid communities to get ready for the deleterious effects of future global warming. Planners, businesses, and citizens should indeed take into account the increased possibility of floods, droughts, and rising sea levels. But it is questionable that they need a proliferation of federal rules and bureaucrats to help them.
Interestingly, the national climate action plan failed to mention two proposals that wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime and yet would strongly encourage people to take account of how the weather might affect them. One is to eliminate federal flood insurance. The program encourages people to destroy natural flood defenses such as swamps and dunes and to build in places that are prone to inundation; we'd be far better off without it. Second, in order to help communities cope better with droughts, cut all federal irrigation water and irrigation efficiency subsidies and establish water markets.
The president did offer two good ideas on the international front. One is for the countries of the world to eliminate $500 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuels. Another is to begin World Trade Organization negotiations toward free trade in environmental goods, such as products used for managing pollution or harvesting renewable energy. He should take the second idea further, and eliminate trade barriers for all goods. Not only would that likely increase gobal GDBP by as much as $1 trillion per year, but the added wealth would enhance community resilience to whatever climate change occurs.
His other international ideas are less inspiring. As Obama noted approvingly, United Nations negotiations are supposed to result in some kind of legally binding global treaty by 2015 to cut greenhouse emissions, a kind of global 50-year climate and energy plan. Given the utter failure of the Kyoto Protocol, the predecessor accord, there is little reason to believe that most of the rest of the world will agree to pay substantially more for energy.
At Georgetown, the president warned that "the special interests and their allies in Congress" will say his plan "will kill jobs and crush the economy, and basically end American free enterprise as we know it." I don't think Obama’s national climate action plan is going to kill American free enterprise. But its costly patchwork of programs, directives, regulations, grants, and initiatives will surely wound it.