What? Me cynical? When it\u2019s related to my husband\u2019s latest creative home \u201cimprovement\u201d project. Yes. At work, I cringe every time there\u2019s a push for a new fangled \u201cmarket.\u201d It is not that I don\u2019t like change. It is that the rose-colored glasses at the hardware store need to be untinted by reality. Same with billion dollar \u201cmarkets.\u201d Part of the new federal administration\u2019s budget--and Congressional support--assumes a carbon market will entail auctioning carbon credits that will pay for investment in alternative energy and green jobs. A cap-and-trade is expected to pull in $15 billion a year for 10 years. It reminds me of the promises of a deregulated new market. During the rise and fall of energy deregulation here in California, we worked long hours. We listened to the list of promised benefits to all. Lots of flags flew up along the way, many of which lawmakers and regulators ignored. As the \u201cmarket\u201d instead of \u201ccommand & control\u201d regulation evolved, no one said that competition in practice could go the other direction and cost everyone more, instead of less. The federal government that\u2019s trusting markets for producing revenue and reducing greenhouse gases should learn from California\u2019s pitfalls. For the last couple years, California has been attempting to create a carbon trading market to ensure the state\u2019s greenhouse gas reduction law--AB 32--is successful. The market evolution involves never ending meetings at the California Air Resources Board. No action. Just talk. Looking at it through untinted glasses, it is a bad idea to attempt to create a market when there are less problematic and less-expensive routes to a carbon-constrained future. Few expect a single state market to fly even with sunglasses on. California\u2019s efforts keep getting bogged down by controversy and complexity. The state\u2019s attempt to help create a western-wide market also is sputtering. Two member states in the Western Climate Initiative have trouble with the dreaded \u201cC\u201d word. In addition to legislators in Utah and Arizona getting cold feet, a group of federal lawmakers sent a letter this week warning about the high costs of a carbon market at a time of great economic uncertainty. Elsewhere, however, there\u2019s far more action than talk. This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took its first step into regulating carbon to curb greenhouse gases--which is the purported aim of a much discussed trading market. Using tools the U.S. Supreme Court provided when it upheld the authority to regulate global warming under the federal Clean Air Act, the agency announced it would require power plants and other large carbon producers to report their 2010 emissions the following year. EPA is expected to soon approve California\u2019s request for a Clean Air Act waiver to allow it to curb emissions from vehicle tailpipes. Next, the federal agency should enact a federal carbon standard for cars, while allowing for a more stringent state standard to accommodate the state\u2019s different environments and resources. You\u2019d think with all the Californians being lured into the federal administration that one of them would note the difficulties of the state\u2019s experience with markets. But no, the cherry blossoms are out, rose-tinted glasses are on, and \u201cmarkets\u201d have way more cache than the dreaded t-a-x word. A tax is simple. A tax is straightforward. Furthermore, the possibility of industry, financial groups and traders letting the government reap the gains of a cap-and-trade system is unlikely. Establishing a tax to fund national, state (and personal) home improvement projects would reduce greenhouse gases without all the remodeling time and expense that could come crashing down under a market.