Cap-and-Trade Dead?


Cap'n Trade image

According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama admitted yesterday that the cap-and-trade carbon rationing scheme that aims to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases that are thought to be contributing to the problem of man-made global warming is likely dead for this session of Congress:

President Obama acknowledged yesterday that the Senate may pass an energy bill this year without the cap-and-trade component he has long put at the center of his environmental agenda.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Nashua, N.H., Obama repeated his call for a price on greenhouse gas emissions but said he recognized that such an approach may not have the votes to make it into law.

"The only thing I would say about it is this: We may be able to separate these things out," Obama said. "And it's conceivable that that's where the Senate ends up. But the concept of incentivizing clean energy so that it's the cheaper, more effective kind of energy is one that is proven to work and is actually a market-based approach."

Senate moderates from both parties are pushing Obama to accept an energy-only approach without putting a price on carbon emissions the way the House-passed bill (H.R. 2454 (pdf)) does, including Agriculture Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), and Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).

"I think cap and trade has a long road here obviously," Gregg said yesterday. "And there's a lot of good initiatives on energy policy that are on a shorter track and will hopefully be pursued aggressively.

"I think it's more logical to focus on those things we can do in the short term," Gregg added…

Going for an energy bill alone, Obama said, is equal to saying, "let's do the fun stuff before we do the hard stuff."

The president is right about an energy-only bill. Of course, Gregg and other Congresscritters prefer the pleasure of handing out tens of billions in subsidies and R&D funding to favored groups and companies without having to endure the political pain that would come from increasing their constituents' energy bills under cap-and-trade.

On the diplomatic front, it will be interesting to see what happens to international climate change negotiations if the U.S. does not adopt the 17 percent cut in greenhouse gas emssions below 2005 levels by 2020 that the Obama administration just submitted as its Copenhagen Accord target.

Whole New York Times article can be found here.