Shazam! Gaaw-aawl-ly! Surprise, surprise, surprise!
Those were the words that Gomer Pyle used to express his endearing amazement at simple things. Dump operators are reacting the same way when they discover gold in them thar mounds of garbage thanks to the global warming true believers and the corporations they frighten.
These corporations have been told they can buy their “climate change” indulgences to eliminate their days in environmental purgatory. And like most companies that want to be seen doing the right thing, they do. Unfortunately the “carbon credits” they think will “save the planet’ really are only a slick way to transfer monies from shareholders to landfill operators for doing nothing.
For more than a decade, the landfill here has made extra profit simply by collecting methane given off by rotting trash, and selling it as fuel. Last year, the landfill learned that doing this also qualified it to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars via a new program that pays companies to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions.
Eliminating methane lets dumps sell “carbon credits” to environmentally conscious people and companies. The long-term goal of trading credits — basically, vouchers representing reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases — is to reduce global pollution by encouraging others to cut emissions when the buyers of the credits can’t or won’t cut their own.
“It seemed a little suspicious that we could get money for doing nothing,” says Charles Norkis, executive director of the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority, which has raised $427,475 selling credits since February, or 3% of the authority’s projected solid-waste revenue for the year.
Over the past two years, landfills from Pennsylvania to North Dakota have started selling extra credits on the Chicago exchange to profit from methane they were capturing anyway.
Selling credits is “gravy to us,” says Katherine Vesey, comptroller of the utility authority in Atlantic County, N.J., which was profitably capturing methane for two years before it started selling credits on the Chicago exchange.
The Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 agreement to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, created a global market in which companies in industrialized nations are required to cut their emissions over time. Those cuts can be achieved, in part, by buying credits from companies that reduce emissions. The U.S. didn’t ratify Kyoto.
Both major presidential candidates, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, say they support imposing a mandatory limit on U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. Concerns about carbon credits have big implications for how much such a limit would cost.That system would likely follow the so-called cap-and-trade model: The government would cap the amount of greenhouse gas companies could emit, and companies could meet the caps by cutting their own pollution or in part by trading in credits representing cuts elsewhere.
The first landfill to join the Chicago exchange is in Lancaster County, Pa., about an hour’s drive west of Philadelphia. The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority spent about $1.5 million to install machinery back in 2005 to capture methane instead of letting it escape into the air. It makes about $50,000 a year selling the gas to a local power company. […]The authority never intended to make money on the project, says James Warner, its executive director.
In June 2006, Mr. Warner was attending a trash-industry conference in Nashville when he came upon a booth for the Chicago Climate Exchange. There, Mr. Warner learned that his landfill also qualified to sell carbon credits.”Long story short, it was like, ‘Holy s — !'” Mr. Warner says.
After coming across the Chicago exchange at the trash conference, Mr. Warner told his staff in Lancaster to apply for selling credits. In October 2006, it made its first carbon-credit sale, netting $26,600 after paying $11,900 in fees and commissions to the exchange.
Including that initial trade, Lancaster County has so far made about $320,727 selling credits on the Chicago exchange. It’s as if, Mr. Warner says, “I looked under a rock and found a couple hundred thousand bucks.”
“Holy s–!” is right. Can you more succinctly summarize the idiocy that characterizes parts of the global warming movement?