Barton Questions U.S. House’s Carbon Offsets

By January 29, 2008Global Warming

green%20house.jpgRep. Joe Barton (R-TX), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was today’s guest at the Heritage Foundation’s weekly blogger meeting. Along with plenty of very smart commentary about energy, global warming, the economy and politics, he also questioned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s program to make the House “carbon neutral.”

The Washington Post reported Monday that the House purchased $89,000 of carbon offsets in November, but the money went to projects that would have happened anyway, or had already stopped.

Heritage’s Conn Carroll asked Barton about the story, and the Congressman said he wants to know more about the House program.

I’m sending a letter, if I haven’t already sent it, to Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Reid, Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, and saying what the heck’s going on. I can’t say I’m adamantly opposed to carbon offset programs, but if we’re going to spend congressional money, we ought to at least buy offsets that are real. And apparently this was just a pure scam.

Barton did not reject all offset programs, seeing some legitimacy, for example, in those involved in a cap-and-trade regime. But too many of them appear to be paying people to just think about not doing something, he observed.

We’ve tried to track down some of these ‘Look at me and my carbon offsets that I purchase’ groups, and we’re having real trouble finding that they’re really buying carbon off…some of them just talk about it. They put it in their goals and aspirations, which they’d like to do. I guess if you’re of that mentality, if you say you want to do it, it’s almost is the same as if you really do it. But we’re having really trouble tying down a program that is legitimate. And again, you know, in a theoretical sense, you can have a legitimate carbon offset program. It’s not impossible, but we ought to make sure that it’s legitimate, in my opinion.

Seems so. As the NAM’s Dena Battle noted yesterday, it is the taxpayers’ money, isn’t it? You might get a warm feeling from buying carbon offsets, but does that justify the money?

UPDATE The sound file from Barton’s Heritage appearance is here, an .mp3 file. His remarks about carbon offsets occur about 21 minutes in.

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