Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cap-and-trade is all but dead for 2010, but some climate legislation could be part of an energy bill

Cap-and-trade legislation to limit climate change is all but dead for the year, but some climate measures could still pass as part of an energy bill, says the editorial board of The Washington Post. "It fell victim to Senate gridlock, yawning gaps between lawmakers over how and even whether to tackle the issue and President Obama's decision last year to place it third on his list of priorities, after the stimulus and health care," the Post writes. Even the president seemed to admit temporary defeat last week by citing speculation that the Senate might pass a modest bill without cap-and-trade.

"A version of such a scaled-down energy bill passed the Senate Energy Committee last year, and it contains some worthwhile provisions, such as updating building codes and the electricity grid," the Post writes. "It is also incomplete, lacking both much in the way of revenue to pay for its programs and any economy-wide emissions limit." The Waxman-Markey climate bill, which includes cap-and-trade and passed the House in the fall, is "marred by giving away far too many valuable pollution permits to politically favored groups, a scheme of which many senators are rightly skeptical," the Post says.

Despite the dim future of cap-and-trade, the Post explains there are options for legislation that meets somewhere in the middle. The editorial board points to a proposal from Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine called the CLEAR Act that would "cap the amount of carbon the United States produces and sell pollution permits to those who produce or import dirty fuels" as one option. The senators say 80 percent of Americans would break even under their plan which would raise costs, but would reroute 75 percent of the permit auction revenue back to the public. (Read more)

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