Bet­ter deal for busi­ness for U.S. means bat­tling China’s pol­lu­tion.

A bet­ter deal for U.S. busi­ness means tack­ling Chi­nese in­dus­trial pol­lu­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By C. Boy­den Gray C. Boy­den Gray, an ar­chi­tect of the 1990 Clean Air Act who shep­herded the mar­ket-based emis­sions-trad­ing Acid Rain Pro­gram through Congress, also served as White House coun­sel to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush and as U.S. am­bas­sador to the E

Fair coun­ter­vail­ing du­ties and bor­der ad­just­ments that com­ply with World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion rules would price the worst pol­luters out of the global mar­kets they dom­i­nate to­day at the cost of mil­lions of lives and Amer­i­can jobs.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will re­ject one con­cept and embrace an­other as he con­fronts China on trade and pol­lu­tion. He ex­pressed skep­ti­cism for “the con­cept of global warm­ing cre­ated by and for the Chi­nese in or­der to make U.S. in­dus­try non­com­pet­i­tive.” But he will not over­look Chi­nese in­dus­try’s sub­si­dized, mam­moth coal-fired pol­lu­tion (5 bil­lion tons of coal per year, set to dou­ble again by 2030). This cheap, toxic en­ergy poi­sons the air from China to the Rock­ies and kills mil­lions of peo­ple, while en­abling Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers to kill U.S. in­dus­try and jobs.

The tiger Mr. Trump must tame is smaller than China it­self. Sierra Club found that the fac­to­ries of just 15 com­pa­nies con­trolled by 21 in­di­vid­ual Chi­nese princelings are re­spon­si­ble for dou­bledigit per­cent­ages of China’s deadly emis­sions. While the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment strug­gles to adopt new tech­nolo­gies and re­duce emis­sions, th­ese 21 ty­coons per­son­ally amassed for­tunes to­tal­ing $70 bil­lion while de­stroy­ing air, wa­ter, farm­land, in­dus­tries and hu­man life.

World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion-vi­o­lat­ing sub­si­dized Chi­nese coal is fin­ish­ing off the U.S. steel, ce­ment, alu­minum and other en­er­gy­in­ten­sive in­dus­tries. Zhang Ship­ing, who owns Hongquio Group, the world’s newly largest alu­minum com­pany, con­verts his dis­counted coal into a mo­bile stew of deadly air tox­ins. He also “strips and ships” raw ma­te­ri­als from de­vel­op­ing African coun­tries like Guinea, leav­ing a trail of eco­log­i­cal and so­cial de­struc­tion.

Alu­minum can be pro­duced cleanly, as Mr. Ship­ing’s com­peti­tors do us­ing hy­dropower as their pri­mary en­ergy source. And it can be ef­fi­ciently pro­duced in Amer­ica, although U.S. com­pa­nies can­not com­pete with the low cost of Mr. Ship­ing’s sub­si­dized, toxic power. Al­coa was forced to shutter al­most all of its U.S. fac­to­ries and break it­self up. Cen­tury Alu­minum cited “the im­proper ex­port of heav­ily sub­si­dized Chi­nese alu­minum prod­ucts” when it closed its Ken­tucky fac­to­ries and fired all its work­ers.

The par­tic­u­late emis­sions from 5 bil­lion an­nual tons of coal kills mil­lions. “Par­tic­u­lates” are solid par­ti­cles and liq­uid droplets of car­cino­genic tox­ins, some less than one-thir­ti­eth the size of a hu­man hair, sus­pended in the air. Th­ese par­ti­cles in­vade our lungs and blood­stream, re­sult­ing in birth de­fects, cancer, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dys­func­tion and death. The Chi­nese peo­ple suf­fer the most from coal com­bus­tion and malev­o­lent in­dus­trial dump­ing prac­tices. Par­tic­u­late mat­ter in China causes 17 per­cent of all Chi­nese deaths and two birth de­fects a minute. Up to 70 per­cent of China’s farm­land is con­tam­i­nated and 90 per­cent of China’s ground­wa­ter is pol­luted. As par­tic­u­lates, heavy met­als and other poi­sons emit­ted by China’s coal com­bus­tion move down­wind across the East China Sea, 40 per­cent of Tokyo’s air pol­lu­tion em­anates from Chi­nese fac­to­ries. China’s pol­lu­tion trav­els all the way to the U.S. Rock­ies in as lit­tle as four days. A NASA study showed that 25-30 per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia’s air pol­lu­tion orig­i­nates in China. An­other study shows nearly half the air qual­ity im­prove­ments in the west­ern U.S. are sig­nif­i­cantly off­set by in­vad­ing Chi­nese pol­lu­tion, a “cost” borne by both the U.S. pub­lic and au­tomak­ers. The con­se­quences for U.S. com­pa­nies and work­ers are cat­a­strophic. Mr. Trump cor­rectly im­plied the bur­den­some U.S. reg­u­la­tory regime se­lec­tively pun­ishes U.S. com­pa­nies with huge costs, yield­ing ever-cleaner emis­sions in the U.S. largely erased by the Chi­nese pol­lu­tion cross­ing the Pa­cific.

One way to en­sure a more level play­ing field (and global emis­sions re­duc­tions) would be to bring cut­tingedge cases in the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion and do­mes­tic trade courts al­leg­ing that China’s anti-com­petive coal ben­e­fits and se­lec­tive pol­lu­tion en­force­ment are gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies that de­mand coun­ter­vail­ing du­ties on Chi­nese im­ports. Or the U.S. could im­pose nondis­crim­i­na­tory har­mo­niz­ing tar­iffs on im­ports pro­duced in un­reg­u­lated mar­kets. Forc­ing Chi­nese in­dus­try to com­pen­sate for the sub­si­dies it re­ceives would change the world’s eco­nomic cal­cu­lus by re­duc­ing mar­ket de­mand for the dirt­i­est emis­sion fu­els. Fair coun­ter­vail­ing du­ties and bor­der ad­just­ments that com­ply with World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion rules would price the worst pol­luters out of the global mar­kets they dom­i­nate to­day at the cost of mil­lions of lives and Amer­i­can jobs.

Mar­ket-ori­ented pric­ing of pol­lu­tion would re­duce tra­di­tional pol­lu­tants in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries that are be­yond the reach of the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency. It would also en­hance en­ergy in­de­pen­dence, ex­plain­ing in part Exxon Mo­bil’s long­stand­ing sup­port for a car­bon levy.

Al­ter­na­tively, China will con­tinue its “dou­ble dump­ing” of sub­si­dized (reg­u­la­tory and fi­nan­cially) prod­ucts and par­tic­u­late pol­lu­tion, un­der­min­ing all the costly en­vi­ron­men­tal steps the U.S. has taken to date.

The 1990 acid rain cap-and-trade pro­gram vir­tu­ally elim­i­nated acid rain in less than a decade at one-fifth the ex­pected cost. U.S. in­dus­try and en­vi­ron­ment would ben­e­fit enor­mously from a sim­i­lar pric­ing of pol­lu­tion at our bor­ders.


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