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Another carbon credit scheme

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Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Attempting to cash in on climate change, a Maryland lawmaker is proposing federal auctions of carbon permits, the revenue from which will be redistributed “to everyone equally.”

It's the same “carbon credit” caper as in years past but with a new liberal twist.

As proposed by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, the measure would auction carbon pollution permits to so-called “first sellers” of oil, coal and natural gas. It would return “100 percent” of the proceeds “to every American with a valid Social Security number.”

“(T)his ‘Cap and Dividend' approach achieves necessary greenhouse gas reductions while boosting the purchasing power of families across the country,” Mr. Van Hollen says.

If all this rosiness sounds similar to what slots proceeds were supposed to do for property taxes in Pennsylvania, go to the head of the class. Except what's proposed here is closer to a street game of three-card monte.

As Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute points out, atmospheric and surface warming began in the late 1970s and ended in the mid-to-late 1990s. In effect, the “Great Carbon Chase” is a nonstarter.

And even less likely than any environmental benefits from this carbon tax retread is that revenues would be equally distributed — as if yet another government-hatched wealth-redistribution scheme is a noble goal to begin with.

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