It’s always interesting to see what will set off my friend Chris Horner. He’s upset that, in a Volokh post about a March Treasury Department memo Horner obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, I made the claim that the revenue estimates for auctioning off carbon permits are not an accurate estimate of the cost of the Waxman-Markey bill. This doesn’t mean that Waxman-Markey is a good idea. (It’s not.) It doesn’t mean Waxman-Markey will be cheap. (It won’t be.) It simply means that a March estimate of revenue from the Administration’s preferred approach to climate policy is not an accurate representation of the consumer costs of the bill that passed the House. I stand by that assessment.
To me what is more interesting about the Treasury document (and a better focus for Horner’s ire) is that the administration redacted portions of the memo which would have provided more direct — and presumably much larger — cost estimates for capping carbon emissions. Further, withholding this information was likely illegal under FOIA, and unquestionably contrary to the administration’s stated policy on FOIA compliance. The Obama administration likes to claim that dramatic carbon emissions can be achieved at negligible cost. If so, then they should have nothing to hide. Of course they do have something to hide — namely the reality that climate control ain’t cheap. On that, I think Horner and I would agree.