Whenever 'the poor' and 'minorities' are invoked in the same headline, it's good to set your skepticism filter extra low or you will likely never get through the first paragraph of an article (umm, including this one) because the issue is rarely science or even policy, it is instead advocacy.(1)

Oddly, when it comes to a really bad cap-and-trade idea, like for emissions, environmentalists claim it will help the poor and minorities.  Their lungs are more sensitive or something, no one can figure the science of environmentalists out. Yet today activists are claiming doing the exact same thing for water will hurt poor people.  What gives?

At some point in the near(ish) future, I have some articles in Wired coming out, projecting two Next Big Things for 2013, and one of my pieces deals with cap and trade for water.   Why, when it comes to water would the same environmentalists insist a cap and trade method is a bad idea and invoke the exact same method to lobby against it that they use to lobby for it regarding CO2? Because if no one in agriculture is miserable, activists are.

Tim Wheeler at the Baltimore Sun invokes the clever journalism trick of not looking like an advocate but making sure to only ever find 'studies' that support pre-determined positions. That's cool, I only write about science and plenty of people can (and do) criticize me for not thinking more about fuzzy-wuzzy, slippery slope paranoia positions like that labeling GM foods and exempting 'Organic' foods from accuracy in labeling will make people healthier. Just noting that scientifically worrying about GMOs is like worrying about an asteroid hitting us and wiping out America is enough to get me labeled as 'unreliable', 'uninformed' and 'a shill' by anti-science hippies.

So instead of saying 'I read somewhere I should not like the Chesapeake Bay cap and trade program so I will find articles to reinforce why', he simply rewrites a bunch of media talking points from the Center for Progressive Reform noting cap and trade will be bad, though it's fun to watch how they avoid even the use of the term 'cap and trade', despite that being exactly what it is.  Instead they refer to it as 'Pollution Credit-Trading', which makes it sound like people are selling smog or something, and then declare it will do"nothing to ensure that the benefits of pollution reductions are shared by poor and minority communities" and must therefore be a failure.

How can you 'ensure' such a thing?  The goal of water cap and trade is to reduce pollution; the biggest 'polluters', if that is the word we want to use about people who grow food, are going to be agriculture followed by industry; cap and trade rewards farmers for reducing pollution, which makes them more likely to do so and that helps everyone for hundreds of miles around.  It's one of few things most conservationists and farmers, along with Republicans and Democrats in states,  can agree on because everyone wins; instead of building more water processing and reclamation plants - all of which cost taxpayers more money - it reduces pollution at the source and accomplishes the same goal.

They seem to think it is bad because it does not micromanage cap and trade to make sure it has an outcome that has nothing at all to do with the environment, and instead frames pollution as a social justice issue.

"If, for example, you were to entice the farmers on the Eastern Shore to trade and Baltimore bought up all the credits," Wheeler quotes Rena Steinzor, the lawyer who runs the Center for Progressive Reform, "then you could end up with some very bad conditions in the Baltimore harbor, where people do fish." 

They're basically contending Baltimore will go out of its way to pollute even when the reward is higher not to do so. Capitalism stinks and paranoia rules the day.  In the report, Steinzor uses Wheeler as a source.  Welcome to environmental recursion.  

Their plan means the people who need to buy into it will be dissuaded from supporting it, because it sets up an unachievable metric - a moving target of 'fairness'.  

They're wrong, the goal of environmentalism should not be fairness, it should be a clean environment. Cap and trade for water is a good idea.  Embrace it, love it.  


(1) That sort of headline was a joke, back when journalism was more balanced than it is today. The joke about the Washington Post then was that if the world ended, their headline would be “World to End, Women and Children Most Affected”. Now, every environmentalist in America uses it.