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Critics overreact to assumed Jindal view on CO2 policy

People on both sides of the political spectrum are getting mad at Gov. Bobby Jindal concerning the possibility that Louisiana might get in the carbon credit market, and from the looks of the controversy, it seems on this occasion that means, so far, he’s playing it just about right.

Garrett Graves, who heads up the governor’s office’s conservation efforts, indicated that if federal legislation were passed that established a “cap and trade” regime – where pollution standards were lowered obnoxiously and applied inappropriately but could be breached by entities willing to buy “credits” from suppliers who presumably are engaged in activities to lower the amount of alleged harmful gases in the atmosphere – Louisiana’s coastal reclamation and preservation efforts could make the state a big supplier of these. His exact words are instructive: “We can tap that market to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars without making any modifications to our projects whatsoever.”

This has upset liberals that favor the economy-killing, useless, unworkable regime because they think it makes Jindal a hypocrite since he wants to “take advantage” of concern over the man-made global warming myth yet not publicly declare that he believes in the concept and also wants to have government take action on it. Some conservatives have gotten mad at Jindal as well, because they see him as selling out on principle in order to pump revenue into the state.

But neither view correctly understands his preferences as he has so far articulated in public settings by himself or his surrogates. Note that Graves, speaking for him, said the state could take advantage of this regime, if it comes to exist, without making any modifications to the existing projects designed to restore from and halt coastal erosion. Jindal does not appear to be deciding what to pursue on the basis of hope that the regime will come into place; rather, his motivations are independent of whatever policy comes out of Washington on this matter. Regarding either criticism, he is not saying one thing and doing another.

Of course, that could change if the regime comes into place, but, to date, Jindal has indicated he does not favor what would turn out to be a “cap and tax” system. About as public as he has gotten on this issue was his vote while in Congress on the 2008 appropriations bill for the U.S. Departments of Energy and the Interior when he voted against removing a section that expressed “the sense of the Congress that there should be enacted a comprehensive and effective national program of mandatory, market-based limits and incentives on emissions of greenhouse gases that slow, stop, and reverse the growth of such emissions at a rate and in a manner that: (1) will not significantly harm the United States economy; and (2) will encourage comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions.” In his rebuttal speech to the State of the Union address earlier this year, he also refused to endorse the idea and instead lauded alternatives policy preferences to it.

So it takes overactive imaginations on both the left and right to view Jindal’s present public policy on coastal matters as either hypocritical and/or unprincipled on the issue of cap and tax. But in the future, if it gets rammed down our throats and Jindal confirms publicly what he appears in the past to have believed about the issue, liberals might have more reason to bellyache.

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