I won't begin to tell the residents affected by the GulfCoast oil disaster that I feel their pain. My home oil tank once sprang a leakand one winter morning I awoke to find a new and unwelcome floor coating on mybasement, but admittedly, it's not even close to the decades of potentialcleanup that lie in store for them.

Nor has this soured my position on offshore drilling, butthat's fodder for a future column that would be decidedly non-accountingrelated.

But what incenses me to a far greater degree other thanthe inertia showed by the White House in addressing the problem, is theadministration's shameless exploitation of the oil spill to advance thecontroversial cap and trade agenda, which when you drill down (pardon theunfortunate pun) amounts to little more than a national energy tax.

In brief, the cap and trade legislation, which passed theHouse by a mere 7 votes, and remains stalled in the Senate, targets a slashingof greenhouse gases by some 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

In total, it would force about 7,500 factories and powerplants to cut their respective CO2 emissions by establishing "caps"on carbon emissions. A market would then be established (yes, anothergovernment agency to go along with the 40 "czars" appointed under thecurrent administration) that would allow companies to either buy or sell energycredits that would allow them to exceed the cap limits.

But in a private analysis made by the TreasuryDepartment, cap and trade would cost U.S taxpayers some $200 billion a year, orroughly $1,760 for the average household in the U.S. That, by estimates, isequivalent to a 15 percent hike on personal income taxes.

Cap and trade would seem to artificially inflate theprice of energy under the theory that higher prices would subsequentlydiscourage its use.

In his speech from the Oval Office last week to addressthe situation in the Gulf, the president spoke about clean energy and"costs" associated with the transition to that. Nor did he bother tocite any figures, fudged or otherwise.

Make no mistake, the oil spill is a crisis of mammothproportions and those responsible should pay a severe penalty. ButI'm confident that it will eventuallybe contained.

Should cap and trade pass in the Senate, that arguablywould be far worse in terms of costs and will surely would be around a lotlonger.

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