Friday, May 01, 2009

Obama in his own words: "Electricity rates skyrocket"

He couldn't be much more clear. President Obama knows that Cap & Trade will dramatically raise energy prices. He admits in a very forthright way in an interview in January 2008 with the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."

Interesting that the city of San Francisco seems to be Obama's truth serum. Remember his statement about "clinging to guns and religion?" That was in San Fran. He apparently feels very comfortable being around fellow travelers, so he lets his guard down and is unusually honest.

What a great plan. Let's intentionally cause electricity rates to skyrocket.

Obama to low income Americans: "So sorry!"


Anonymous said...

I'm at a loss to understand this. I voted for Obama, but I really didn't think he would do this.

Huck said...

Rob, I'm still waiting for you to take the bait, accept my challenge, and propose a solution that addresses a 1% chance that global warming is a real, human-activity exacerbated problem. That leaves out all the other subsidies that coal, gas, and oil extraction already receives.

Cap and trade will be expensive and result in enormous collateral damage, as any transition has costs. But addressing a chance for trouble will always be politically more accepted than doing nothing and complaining about it.

The saddest thing is you are one of the smartest conservatives I follow. Oh, and I've been meaning to respond to the argument about liberals-conservatives you and Abrams had a few weeks ago (a taped show). Abrams was making the point that a two-axis grid was a better model than your single-axis "big government, small government" model. I had tried to make this point a few months back discussing fascists. I'm just wondering if you discussed this further after the show as you didn't seem to get what he was saying.

Rob Kremer said...

To answer your question about a solution for a 1% chance that human activity does cause warming -
I think adaptation is by far the best response. Even if we are causing warming, the real question is what are the various effects?

Do the oceans really rise, and if so, by how much. We can't plan for a response or a solution when we don't really have any idea as to the size of the effect. Just look at the huge variance in the estimates (from 17 inches to 20 feet) shows that nobody really knows. So adapting as what happens happens seems to me to be the best way.

That is just an example - the same principal applies to whatever the predicted effect. Farming, for instance. If the globe warms, the crops able to be grown in different regions will change as well. This will be very gradual - easily adapted to. And as a general statement, a warmer climate with more CO2 is better for crops, not worse.

Finally, I will ask: What do we do if we the science shows we have a 1% chance of warming by 5 degrees by 2100, but also a 1% chance of COOLING by 5 degrees by 2100?

How do we "solve" that?

We can't. But we can adapt to what comes, when it comes.

Roadrunner said...

There are a couple of problems here.

First, with the overwhelming majority of climate scientists saying that the planet is warming and that human activity is the cause, the assumption of a 1% probability is absurd. Let's switch the probability to 90% and see how the discussion changes.

Second, if electric rates are the be-all, end-all, there's a very simple way to reduce electric rates--publicly-owned utilities have lower rates than privately owned utilities. Will you buy into that?

Rob Kremer said...

For the moment, let's use the 90% probability figure. So it's 90% chance that what happens? Warming? How much warming? And what are the effects of that much warming?

Nobody knows the answers to either of these questions. Estimates of "how much warming" are wildly variable because it depends completely on the assumptions built into the climate model. Remember - all of these predictions are based on models, not on empirically derived measures.

Second, the question of the effect of various warming levels is itself the subject of wildly variable predictions.

So, even with a "90% chance" that human related CO2 causes warming, adaptation is still the most prudent course of action.

Rob Kremer said...

Oh - and to your point about publicly-owned electric companies...

The Obama plan wouldn't just raise electricity rates. Rather, it would cause the price of all forms of energy to go up.

I am no fan of the model of regulated monopolies as a way to provide power to homes and businesses. I think it is very prone to abuse, self dealing, ridiculous pay for executives, and the like.

But I am even less of a fan of the notion of putting our power sources even more in the hands of politicians than our current model does.

As much as I think PGE rips us off, I shuddered when Eric Sten wanted to run the place.

Roadrunner said...


Do you have evidence that public utilities arew worse run than private ones?

In California, the public utilities were the ones that didn't have brownouts and huge rate increases during the Enron debacle.

PGE raised their rates by.something like 43% during the Peggy Fowler era. The Seattle public utility actually lowered their rates.

What other alternative do you see? Do any other power-delivery models have a track record of providing dependable power at affordable rates?

Roadrunner said...


Your proposed "solution" makes as much sense as telling someone not to use seat belts in the car, since there's only a small chance of an accident, you don't know what the consequences will be, and, hey, "you can always adapt."

The planet is a complex system, one in which we humans are making significant changes. We don't know what the effects will ben or whether they'll be minor or catastophic, but a significant number of people devoted to studying this see strong possibilities for the effects to be on the catastrophic end of the spectrum.

Wouldn't it be prudent to reduce the changes in the system?

After all, there are ways to ameliorate cost increases. Major changes in climate, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I would be vaery interested to hear the rest of his answer. The video you linked to cut him off.

There have been instances recently of creative video cropping that can completely alter the meaning of an answer.

Huck said...

Sorry to bail on my own question Rob, my computer is down and I only rarely now venture onto the old desktop in my basement.

Hey, your answer is actually something I can get behind. Adaptation is what we do best as a species, and we will persevere through this. However, I believe that adaptation is the best response to the 90% chance that the climate will change, regardless. As to the 1% chance that we are exacerbating warming (or mitigating cooling), that is where I do believe in incentivized (or forced, but not so much yet) behavior modification. That is where the pricing mechanism comes into play. I can understand somebody disagreeing with this position, and I can understand your position that my (our) side's underlying assumption doesn't justify the magnitude of response. But if you DO give credence to the underlying assumption/theory of human-activity exacerbation/mitigation, then it really isn't that crazy.

Further, one of the reasons this argument is so heated is HAE/M is just one more in a long line of environmental costs that have never been internalized by energy producers, and to this point there is no dispute. That, plus a failure to employ an economic vocabulary and analysis to the situation, leaves lefties flailing. Much like lefties are on a 2-axis plot rather than a 1-axis line, don't assume we're all basing this one irrational fears and models.

Thanks for the answer Rob. It exceeded expectations and allowed me to clarify my point. Congrats on your son getting into Duke! Great excuse to go to NC.

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