Politicians are often anxious to been seen as "green" as they support stringent environmental standards and mandates. Unfortunately, they often ignore the costs of those measures — that is, until those costs come home to roost in their own districts. Witness U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey, D-Wis., who along with 98 other Democrats voted to protect agricultural and Great Lakes shipping interests from Environmental Protection Agency regulations as part of a deal to move a $32.24 billion natural resources funding bill.
The agreement would exempt confined animal feeding operations and other large-scale cattle and hog farmers from the mandated reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, seen by many as the first step in regulating emissions. In addition, the deal struck by lawmakers would exempt Great Lakes shippers from upcoming EPA low-sulfur fuel mandates, intended to generate less smog-inducing emissions. Great Lakes shippers argue that their fleet, much of it built in the 1950s, runs the risk of engines exploding with the use of low-sulfur fuel.
Many of the legislators who voted for these waivers are on record in support of cap-and-tax legislation to limit greenhouse gasses — a key component of President Obama's climate change initiative. While the hypocrisy of congressmen flipping on this issue is glaring, their action is a harbinger of a much bigger problem. Cap and trade will create a line of special interests demanding carve-outs and favors from politicians from both parties who will be eager to make deals. The potential for corruption is mind-boggling.
When government gets in the business of picking winners and losers, it's the American taxpayers who ultimately lose by paying more for goods and services and, worse, witnessing a continuing erosion of our freedom.