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Hobson's Hamburger

It’s time to end the uncertainty about carbon costs.

Fortnightly Magazine - August 2009

hamburger and enact ACES, for one primary reason: The bill will end the uncertainty about carbon costs that has kept power-infrastructure investment in a holding pattern in recent years.

ACES might be only a starting point, and an unwieldy and complicated one at that. But it creates a mechanism for assigning a price to GHG emissions, and that’s what’s really important. Additionally, the enabling regulations probably won’t be truly final for years, so there’s still time to improve it. EPA will have to do its work to ascertain emissions levels and allocate credits, and Congress likely will revisit the legislation in the future—perhaps repairing some of its weaknesses, and making it more or less stringent, as seems appropriate to serve economic and environmental goals.

Nevertheless, once ACES gets on the books, America’s energy companies and their regulators will know, with certainty, that carbon emissions carry a price. That’s all we can expect from the legislation, and fortunately, that’s all we really need.