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Winners And Losers

Dave Roberts swings a lead pipe at Bush's absurd climate speech today. I'll second Dave in that there's no use pretending that Bush is trying to address global warming in any sort of serious way—he's just giving himself political cover should he have to veto a cap-and-trade bill. ("Oh I'm all for tackling carbon emissions, it's just that this bill violates all those principles I talked about...") This bit from his speech, in particular, deserves a prize for incoherence:

The wrong way is to jeopardize our energy and economic security by abandoning nuclear power and our Nation's huge reserves of coal. The right way is to promote more emission-free nuclear power and encourage the investments necessary to produce electricity from coal without releasing carbon into the air. ...

Second, the incentive should be technology-neutral because the government should not be picking winners and losers in this emerging market.

So the government shouldn't pick winners and losers, so long as coal and nuclear are winners. Nice. Also, how do you avoid "picking winners and losers" among clean-energy solutions if, like Bush, you're opposed to placing a price on carbon and letting the market sort things out for itself? The only other way to provide incentives for low-carbon energy is to fund those technologies directly—which involves either Congress or some other government agency deciding what to fund and why. 

--Bradford Plumer