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Cap-and-Trade Creators Dubious of Waxman-Markey (SO2 vs. CO2; political failure vs. ‘market failure’)

By Robert Murphy -- August 20, 2009

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting story explaining that the two economists who invented the “cap-and-trade” approach to regulating pollution do not think it is an effective mechanism for dealing with manmade climate change. As with so many other economists (including those at the CBO [.pdf]), the creators of cap-and-trade think that an explicit tax is a much more efficient way for the government to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

To avoid confusion, let me stress that I am not endorsing a carbon tax myself–indeed I have a forthcoming article [.pdf] in The Independent Review that critiques the standard mainstream case for government pricing of carbon emissions. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see just how tepid the academic support for Waxman-Markey is becoming. It’s not simply “shills for Big Oil and Big Coal” who oppose it, as many activists would have us believe.…