Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A really dumb idea: Wyoming senator wants to let companies trade the right to give people cancer

  • Normally we at Clean Air Watch don’t venture into the realm of tobacco. But we are making an exception here because a Wyoming senator is taking flawed Clean Air Act idea and is trying to apply it to tobacco – in a blatant attempt to stave off FDA regulation of coffin nails.

    See below. Our friend Paul Billings with the American Lung Association can get into all the grim details.


    ENZI’s “cap-and-trade” approach to tobacco: a plan to let companies trade the right to give people cancer.

    As those of you who have been following this issue know, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee is planning to move forward tomorrow on long-awaited legislation that would give the FDA oversight over tobacco products. Health groups such as the American Lung Association support this effort.

    But the friends of tobacco have a different – and ludicrous – idea. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) has introduced an alternative plan that would seek to “cap and trade” tobacco use. http://help.senate.gov/Min_press/2007_07_23_b.pdf. The idea would be to permit tobacco companies to trade the right to turn people into tobacco addicts – and thus give them cancer and other diseases.

    No, this isn’t some ghoulish Halloween joke.

    Actually Enzi is stealing an idea from the Clean Air Act (1990 amendments) aimed basically at bribing coal-burning Midwestern power companies to reduce acid rain-causing emissions over a several decade period.

    (Why is Enzi doing this? Well, he is a long-time friend of the mini-mart lobby – the National Association of Convenience Stores – and they sell a lot of cigarettes. Perhaps Mini-mart Mike is trying to repay the favor for past campaign contributions. http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.asp?cid=N00006249&cycle=2002 )

    A couple of quick reasons why “cap and trade” is silly in this context:

    first of all, “cap and trade” was interjected into the Clean Air Act as a compromise, rather than simply requiring coal-burning electric power plants to clean up. It ended up putting clean up on a very slow boat – it had a 20-year time frame.

    it’s only been so-so in its results. (In addition to the protracted time frame, and the targets were based on politics, not science. We now know the targets were too weak – we still have an acid rain problem.)

    in effect, it gave companies the right to pollute – a controversial measure by any means, but considered a little less volatile in the context of acid rain BECAUSE IT WAS ABOUT DEATH OF LAKES AND STREAMS, NOT PEOPLE. As Comedian Carlos Mencia might put it “dee-dee-dee!”

    the idea of giving away free “credits” to industry is now considered pretty stupid. See our report “Should Big Polluters Own the Sky?” at http://www.cleanairwatch.org/

    Note that even big coal-burning power companies like American Electric Power (which have backed the Bingaman global warming bill) now are willing to go along with something less greedy than simply demanding all the credits for free.

1 comment:

john said...

See below, Our Friend Paul Billings with the American Lung Association can get into all the grim details. Perhaps Mini-Mart Mike is trying to repay the favor for past campaign contributions.

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