Sunday, December 27, 2009

And Now It's Cap 'n Trade on the Chopping Block

Well, this didn't take long:

“We’ve got to keep them together because they go together,” said Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, who infuriated liberals with his opposition to the public option in the health care bill but who's trying to keep cap-and-trade alive in a bipartisan climate bill he's drafting with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The White House remains firmly behind an economy-wide cap-and-trade system, which would curb greenhouse gas emissions and create a market for polluters to buy and sell carbon allowances.

“We think that a cap-and-trade mechanism is the best way to achieve the most cost-effective reductions," a senior administration official told reporters last week.

But Kerry raised eyebrows last week when he seemed to hint at some flexibility over the issue.

"I can't tell you the method or the means or amount by which we might price carbon," he told reporters in Copenhagen. "We haven't resolved that issue yet.”

A move away from cap-and-trade would bitterly disappoint the environmental community and many powerful utility companies, who’ve lobbied hard for the system.

Many utilities, investors, and even some consumer companies like Starbucks and Nike believe cap-and-trade will unleash a flood of investments in energy efficiency and renewable fuels like wind, solar, and nuclear power But passage will be a heavy lift -- with few signs of Republican support and mounting concern from the moderate Democrats.

Earlier this month, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced a bill that would replace cap and trade with a system that would set a price on carbon dioxide emissions and return all the revenue to consumers, instead of industry.

And Republican Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and Richard Lugar of Indiana are examining proposals to cap greenhouse gas emissions only on power plants, coupled with energy efficiency programs for buildings and transportation.

After the tough health care fight, Democratic leadership believes a climate bill must pass with significant bipartisan support or risk leaving the party open to attack during the midterm elections.

“Any bill dealing with energy and climate change will have to be bipartisan to pass,” said Durbin. “Sen. Kerry assures me that there are other (Republicans) that he may have.”

But even among Republicans who believe global warming is a problem, few -- if any -- other than Graham support an economy-wide cap and trade system.

The Republicans managed to turn opposition to health care reform into a civil war within the Democratic party and the online progressive community. The bill that came out the other side was by-and-large terrible, defensible only has an improvement over the status quo, and broadly unpopular. They got a bigger "win" than anybody could have ever dreamed.

And that issue was far less controversial than climate change.

No, they have no reason to bend. No reason at all. They will oppose their way into another big victory... as their greatest opponents consume themselves in silly arguments about Grover Norquist.

(Edit: Fixed that "div class" thing that was messing with the site.)

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