Lame Duck Carbon Rationing?


The Democratic leadership in the Senate dropped its efforts to pass legislation mandating carbon rationing in the form of a cap-and-trade scheme last month. Facing a contentious election this November in which the Democrats could lose their majority in the House of Representatives and reduce their membership in the Senate, a climate change bill is unlikely to be brought up before November. But what about after the election in November?

Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner was asked about how the administration might proceed on carbon rationing. From the transcript:

MR. GREGORY:  Final question here.  The president said, in his address to the nation, this, about climate change legislation.

(Videotape, June 15, 2010)

PRES. OBAMA:  The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.  …  The one approach I will not accept is inaction.  The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY:  He said he won't settle for inaction, and yet, there is inaction.

MS. BROWNER:  Right.

MR. GREGORY:  Is it failure?

MS. BROWNER:  We're deeply disappointed that we were not able to get clean energy legislation.  There's a tremendous opportunity for our country to lead the global clean energy revolution.  But that requires us to put in place the, the right laws, the right signals so that we build the wind turbines here, we build the solar panels, then we can ship them to China.  We're in danger of losing out.

MR. GREGORY:  I understand the arguments.  The president drew a line in the sand there.  Is he conceding defeat on this?

MS. BROWNER:  Not yet.  The Congress is coming back.  We will continue to see if we can get legislation.  We passed it in the House.  We'll continue to work in the Senate.

MR. GREGORY:  Lame duck session, they could do it potentially there.

MS. BROWNER:  Potentially.

MR. GREGORY:  All right, we'll, we'll be watching.  Carol Browner, thank you very much as always.

Potentially, indeed. What would defeated Democrats have to lose from a kamikaze policy dive on this issue after the election?