The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

The Two Fatal Flaws of a Cap-less Climate Bill

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 03/01/2010 10:26
news
Hajra Shannon

The tripartisan Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Senate climate squad made a splash this weekend with its decision to drop cap-and-trade from its (eventual) legislative proposal, instead imposing carbon controls on various polluting sectors of the economy. As Brad Plumer points out, this isn’t necessarily bad news for environmental advocates; treating the country as a monolithic source of pollution certainly overlooks the important distinctions between, say, electric utilities and gas-guzzling Hummers.

As I see it, though, there are two main problems with this approach:

First, we have to take for granted that any major energy and climate legislation in Congress will be hijacked by special interests. This happened with the House cap-and-trade bill, which saw huge numbers of pollution permits handed out for free to utilities, coal generators, oil refiners, etc. But under cap-and-trade, no matter how many permits you give away, no matter how much revenue the government loses that could have been spent on valuable clean energy investments, you still have a firm economy-wide emissions cap to show for it — a guarantee that the United States will emit over 80 percent less carbon in 2050 than it does now.

With this proposal, though, it looks like we lose that. If electric utilities successfully lobby the Senate and get it to weaken their emissions target by 20 percent, and coal companies win a 15 percent reprieve, well then you’ve just taken a huge step back in the country’s commitment to fight global warming. It’s possible that when we actually see the text of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill, there will be some provision to prevent this kind of manipulation, but I’ve yet to see anything to that effect.

Second, there’s the annoying truth that you can keep taking the teeth out of climate legislation, but you’re still not going to get many — if any — more Republicans or conservative Democrats to vote for it. Case in point from The Washington Post:

Even some moderate Republicans, seen as possible supporters of a new climate bill, remain opposed to the idea of putting a price on carbon, which Lieberman still calls “sine qua non,” or an essential ingredient, of any such bill. Andy Fisher, a spokesman for Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), said the senator, who has opposed cap-and-trade and carbon taxes, could support pricing carbon “potentially at some point, but not at the moment.”

Which is Congress-speak for: Sure, I’d consider voting for climate legislation, but not until after the midterm elections, when the Democratic majority will be sufficiently reduced to make passing a comprehensive climate bill impossible. At which point I’ll oppose it because “it simply doesn’t have the votes.”

Hajra Shannon | Hajra Shannon has been assisting clients with writing difficulties for over four years. She will help with ghost writing, coaching, and ghost editing. Her experience in family science and journalism has provided her with a strong foundation from which to approach a variety of topics. She loves writing resumes for people who are changing professions in particular.

Related

Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen

Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.)

One of the most conservative Democrats in the House -- a freshman who said he couldn’t support Nancy Pelosi again -- is going to switch over to the GOP. Josh

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!

The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the

Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs

Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability

Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment

In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep

Rep. Pete Hoekstra Bashes Global Currency

I was just talking to Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who’s leaving Congress to run for governor of Michigan, about his proposed Parental Rights Amendment—a

Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public

Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’

Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday

Rep. Pete Hoekstra Surging in Michigan Gubernatorial Bid

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee -- you couldn’t flip on a TV without seeing him in the aftermath of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s botched

School of Hock

A growing number of college grads are defaulting on their student loans as the economy worsens.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com