Hit & Run

Sen. John Kerry: Full Steam Ahead on Carbon Rationing

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Today's New York Times had the temerity to report that congressional proponents of cap-and-trade carbon rationing as a way to address man-made global warming were backing down a bit due to the unfavorable political and economic climate. According to the Times:

As they watch President Obama's ambitious health care plan crumble, the advocates of a comprehensive bill to combat global warming are turning their sights to a more modest package of climate and energy measures that they believe has a better chance of clearing Congress this year.

Their preferred approach, a cap-and-trade system to curb emissions of climate-changing gases, already faced a difficult road in a bruised and divided Senate. Its prospects grew dimmer after the special election in Massachusetts last week was won by Scott Brown, a Republican who repudiated the federal cap-and-trade proposal in his campaign….

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is working with Mr. Graham and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, to try to knit together a global warming and energy measure, said this week that the political climate in Washington was already harsh and had worsened with the special election in his home state. Mr. Kerry said he had held talks with the White House, business leaders and fellow senators in hopes of finding an approach to climate and energy issues that can win enough votes for passage.

"I can't tell you whether it will happen this year or not," Mr. Kerry said. "But it's going to happen. It is inevitable that the United States will deal with climate and energy."

In response to the Times' story, Sen. John Kerry has sent out a press release today reprising his remarks at the 2010 Clean Energy, Jobs, and Security Forum, where he declared:

There is a story today in the New York Times--I don't know if any of you saw it--that suggests that we're somehow scaling back our efforts and caving in to some new reality that's been defined by the election in Massachusetts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are not scaling back our efforts. We have not changed our goals one bit. We are simply trying to figure out what the magic formula is to be able to get 60 votes but our goal remains exactly what it was before: to price carbon and to create a target for the reduction of emissions that is real. That's the goal.

Apparently, the senior senator from Massachusetts believes that the phrase "cap-and-trade" is a rhetorical loser, so he's simply redefined it:

We're talking about setting a target for the reduction of pollution, which is why we don't call it cap and trade anymore. It's a pollution reduction target with a private investment incentive (emphasis added) for companies to be able to invest in deciding how they want to meet the pollution reduction target. There's no tax dollars in it. There's no new taxes. Does it require a company to lay out some money for new technology? You're damn right it does,…

Actually it depends on how the emissions permits are distributed. If the government sells them, then it's essentially a tax. In any case, his plan for a pollution reduction target with a private investment incentive will increase his constituents' energy bills. But does the senator mention that in the press release? Nope.

I can't find the press release at the senator's website, but here's a Reuters story reporting on his speech.