Cap and Trade: The Politics Goes in Before the Market Goes On


Some breakfast legislative sausage, via Rep. Henry Waxman's office and the proposed cap-and-trade carbon reduction scheme, and the Washington Examiner:

In exchange for votes to pass a controversial global warming package, Democratic leaders are offering some lawmakers generous emission "allowances" to protect their districts from the economic pain of pollution restrictions.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, represents a district with several oil refineries, a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. He also serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which must approve the global warming plan backed by President Barack Obama.

Green says Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who heads the panel, is trying to entice him into voting for the bill by giving some refineries favorable treatment in the administration's "cap and trade" system…"We've been talking," Green said, referring to a meeting he had with Waxman on Tuesday night. "To put together a bill that passes, they have to get our votes, and I'm not going to vote for a bill without refinery allowances."

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the top Republican on the energy panel, said Waxman and others are also dangling allowances for steel and coal-fired power plants to give political cover to Democrats whose districts rely on these companies…..

Waxman told The Examiner he was not trading votes for allowances.

"That is what the Republicans are saying, but that is not accurate," he said. The bill left out specifics on allowances "in order to be able to have discussions on how best to ease the transition for various geographical regions and ratepayers."

"I will politely disagree," said energy committee member John Shimkus, R-Ill., who insisted Waxman "is calling members into his office to try to get their vote, and that will be based on the credits they are offering."

I wrote about how politics inevitably precedes markets in pollution allowance trading way back in 1996. Ron Bailey has been on the contemporary cap-and-trade debate for us at Reason magazine and Reason Online like iron oxide on steel, and just a few weeks ago explained why it promises to be the biggest corporate welfare of all time.