R Street suggests conservative alternative to Obama climate plan
The president’s announcement of an expensive and heavy-handed scheme to regulate emissions from existing power plants provides an ideal opportunity for conservatives to present authentic limited government solutions to the real threats posed by climate change, R Street Senior Fellow Andrew Moylan said.
“The political right has been largely absent from the important debate over the appropriate policy response to climate change,” Moylan said. “President Obama’s turn away from markets and into unilateral executive action should prompt a course correction from conservatives.”
The crux of the president’s plan is a long-anticipated move to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power generation facilities through complicated regulations administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. This policy is likely to expand government control and impose huge new costs on the energy sector which will, in turn, impact the economy as a whole.
“Reducing carbon emissions doesn’t need to entail bigger government and a damaged economy,” Moylan continued. “A revenue-neutral carbon tax coupled with regulatory reform could achieve the same goal the president seeks to address without expanding government or contracting economic opportunity.”
A price signal operating in an open and free market would encourage a transition to less carbon-intensive energy sources, while a clean tax swap and streamlined regulatory regime would ensure that government doesn’t grow larger and more powerful. When combined with some of the good ideas from Obama’s speech, like greater reliance on clean, cheap hydro-power and increased energy development on public lands such a structure would constitute a substantive and authentically conservative alternative that has been lacking in recent years.
“Regardless of one’s views on climate change, the simple reality is that federal policy is going to address the matter,” Moylan added. “That can happen through ill-advised regulations, like those proposed by the president today, or it can happen through a vibrant market with clear price signals attached to all fuels. Conservatives should seize the opportunity to once again emphasize the superiority of free markets over central planning.”