International Cap-and-Trade Regime Could Benefit Organized Crime by Creating Carbon Credit Black Market, Senator Warns

July 30, 2009 - 8:17 PM
&quot;Organized crime will be the place to go to get carbon credits,&quot; a Republican lawmaker warned a Senate committee hearing on Thursday.<br />

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Thursday that cap and trade legislation may be a boon to organized crime in the United States. (Penny Starr/CNSNews.com)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) said the cap-and-trade legislation passed by the House of Representatives could be a boon for organized crime in the United States by creating a carbon credit industry that could spawn fraud, money laundering and other criminal activities.
 
Barrasso spoke Thursday after a hearing by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that focused on climate change and national security.  

“The hearing this morning was specifically about national security and climate change, and I view a big part of that is what Interpol is saying--187 different countries are involved--and they’re saying if you need carbon credits, the place to turn to is organized crime if we put in a cap-and-trade program.”

Barrasso asked that a May 30 article by Reuters News Service be entered into the record. The article features an interview with Peter Younger, an environmental crimes specialist with Interpol, the world's largest international police agency.

In the article, Younger refers to the United Nations REDD program--Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation--that would generate billions of dollars by rewarding countries that conserve forests and allowing them to sell for profit “carbon credits” to developing countries, an idea similar to the cap-and-trade legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate.
 
“If you are going to trade any commodity on the open market, you are creating a profit- and-loss situation,” Younger told Reuters. “There will be fraudulent trading of carbon credits.”
 
“In future (sic), if you are running a factory and you desperately need credits to offset your emissions, there will be someone who can make that happen for you,” Younger said. “Absolutely, organized crime will be involved."
 
At Thursday's Senate hearing, Barrasso warned, “We should all be concerned because these groups are a threat to national security. … Some even operate within our own borders.”

“If we endeavor to create a carbon trading scheme here in the U.S., we have to know the national security implications of such an approach,” Barrasso said. “But we need to know, is Interpol’s assessment shared by our intelligence community?”

Barrasso added that the committee had not been briefed on that subject, if that’s the case.

The senator also said he sent letters on Wednesday to the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency asking if the agencies are aware of Interpol’s assessment and, if so, what is being done with the information.

The letters also noted that two EPA investigators are working with the Interpol’s pollution crime working group.

Barrasso had asked the Congressional Research Services (CRS) to provide information about how much of the intelligence community’s staffing and budget resources are being used on climate change and security issues.
 
The CRS responded on July 29, saying that the intelligence community “is not engaged in evaluating scientific judgments concerning global climate change” and that “existing resources--both budget and personnel”--are being used, although details were classified.

While many witnesses and committee members at the hearing said that climate change issues such as droughts, hunger, poverty, and lack of water around the world are a threat to U.S. national security, Barrasso said what will likely happen in this country if cap-and-trade becomes law is a concern that is closer to home.

“Organized crime will be the place to go to get carbon credits,” said Barrasso.