Basing Trade On Climate, Not Competition
Going “green” can be expensive, and ruling environmentalists are rightly concerned that their regulatory regime could teeter if higher costs for goods puts them at a competitive disadvantage.
Their solution: an expansive, anti-carbon tax principle that leaps national boundaries and ensures no one can win a trade war by undercutting prices.
That’s not exactly what Patrick Henry had in mind when he famously warned, “United we stand, divided we fall.”
United in an embrace of socialistic governance, controlling Congressional Democrats are looking to enact a “polluter import fee” just as the European Union introduces a “carbon border adjustment mechanism” (CBAM).
If these measures were to become law in their respective political entities, they would add levies on lower-cost products made in nations without the tough emissions standards that raise prices on U.S. and European goods.
On this side of the pond, Sen. Chris Coon of Delaware and Rep. Scott Peters of California introduced in July a bill that would add the polluter import fee to the price of certain energy-intensive products such as iron, steel, aluminum, cement, and, of course, actual energy resources that fuel the U.S. economy – oil, coal, and natural gas.
Such a fee would be intended to preserve the competitiveness of the U.S. industries that President Biden intends to smother under a truckload of Green New Deal-type regulations.
Democrats could wind up inserting the measure into the gargantuan $3.5 trillion “infrastructure” plan that the U.S. Senate endorsed in principle early Wednesday morning.
The Coons-Peters bill was filed on the very day the European Union announced its CBAM plan on the other side of the pond.
The rule would impose a border fee on imported products made with higher carbon emissions than EU goods, neutralizing the price disadvantage of carbon-reducing industrial practices.
The trans-Atlantic timing could be a coincidence, but, as FDR once said, “In politics, nothing happens by accident.”
As former Democratic Rep. James Bacchus points out in a recent Cato Institute white paper, proposals to harness world trade to global climate-change policies are vulnerable to charges of protectionism, despite EU reassurances that its proposal remains within World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
“Nevertheless,” he writes, “Brazil, China, India, and South Africa have already expressed ‘grave concern’ and have declared that the CBAM is protectionism disguised as climate action that will impose unfair discrimination on European imports of their traded products.”
No opponent of carbon-based levies on trade, Mr. Bacchus suggests the smartest way for congressional Democrats to steer clear of potential WTO violations is to contend that its proposed polluter import fee “is based solely on climate motivations.”
As the modern world evolves, so do cunning methods of regulating human industry. If competition is to be discarded as an economic principle in favor of restrictive rules that serve a prevailing climate-change agenda, and if “green” fees are to add to life’s financial burdens, color us skeptical.
Read more at Washington Times
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