U.S. Rep Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) proved something in his speech
at Portland City Club today: he ain't Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
DeFazio, an 11-term veteran whom political insiders say is still mulling a 2010 run for the position Kulongoski will vacate after next year, eviscerated two of the Democratic governor's top environmental policy iniatives.
The answer to global warming, as DeFazio spent most of his time explaining, is not the "cap and trade" approach pending in Congress or that Kulongoski made one of his top priorities
this legislative session.
DeFazio says many carbon offsets are "phony" and likened the proposed market in which polluters and traders would exchange permits for emitting greenhouse gases to Wall Street's credit derivatives debacle. He brought along hard copies of a report
"Subprime Carbon" produced by the environmental group Friends of the Earth to buttress that point.
"There's an unholy alliance of big business, some environmental groups and Wall Street," that want cap and trade, DeFazio says, comparing the alliance to the same group that pushed energy deregulation a little more than 10 years ago. He attributed much of the development of both concepts to the same bogeyman: Enron, the bankrupt energy giant that formerly owned Portland General Electric.
"Wall Street is excited about another thinly regulated market," he says.
DeFazio blasted pending cap-and-trade legislation, saying that since Western European nations adopted a similiar system, they've added $60 billion in costs but emissions have risen.
Instead of cap and trade, DeFazio favors using an approach that he says has been a big success: measuring emissions, placing caps on polluters and then fining them aggressively if they exceed limits. Such a system, DeFazio says, would mirror the 1972 Clean Water Act, which he termed one of the "biggest successes" in regulatory history.
Having thoroughly trashed a system favored not only by Kulongoski but that President Obama liked well enough to make a centerpiece of his first budget, DeFazio also took a passing swipe at the corn-based fuel
that both the feds and the Oregon have larded with rich subsidies.
"Ethanol is a loser," DeFazio says.