Senator: Cap and Trade a No-Go in 2010

by | Jan 6, 2010

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emissions red buildingAs went the Copenhagen climate talks, so goes U.S. cap-and-trade legislation. Or so it would seem from the comments of Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Bingaman on Jan. 5 said that without consensus on the final form of a cap-and-trade system, he sees little chance of Congress passing legislation this year, according to ABCNews, via AP.

Still, he said that both the House and the Senate are likely to pass some sort of energy related bills that would include curbs on pollution, especially as legislators worry that the EPA may force reductions under the Clean Air Act without Congressional action.

Either scenario is likely to drive up utility rates, he said, adding that he wanted to determine which would drive up rates the least.

In place of immediate cap-and-trade legislation, Bingaman would like to see more incentives passed to encourage renewable energy technologies, such as the American Clean Technology Manufacturing Leadership Act.

With dissent among legislators, President Obama must take a stronger lead role if he expects cap-and-trade to pass, according to an editorial that originally ran in the San Jose Mercury News but was reprinted in the Salt Lake Tribune.

“Accomplishing this will require President Barack Obama to do what he does best: explain and inspire, capitalizing on hopes and not fears,” according to the editorial.

When the National Journal posed the question of what the Senate would do to curb greenhouse gas emissions, several prominent business and association leaders responded.

Alan Oxley, Chairman of World Growth, said, “The cap and trade system at the heart both the House and Senate bills would saddle Americans with severe economic consequences. Just consider that the E.U. carbon trading market has experienced volatile price swings, widespread incidence of fraud and abuse, and the development of securitized financial products (similar to the ones which contributed to the recent mortgage crisis).”

Daniel Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress, expressed optimism about passage of energy legislation. He wrote: “The mainstream media has written the obituary for comprehensive clean energy legislation at every step of the process. Such nay saying occurred after House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) and House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming introduced the American Clean Energy and Security Act, before the House Energy Committee passed the bill, and before the full House of Representatives passed it in June. Chair Waxman noted that ‘On every issue that I’ve worked on this year, people have said it can’t happen and it’s dead for the year.’ Claims about the death of the Senate global warming bill are also greatly exaggerated. The Senate is on track for a spring debate and passage of legislation to create jobs, increase American energy independence and cut pollution.”

Robert Shapiro, Chairman and Founder, Sonecon, and a member of the U.S. Climate Task Force, said that a revenue-neutral, carbon-based tax was more likely than the current version of cap-and-trade. “Carbon taxes are … an approach that’s sharply cut emissions in Scandinavia, one that the EU is actively exploring following the disappointments of its cap-and-trade-based European Trading Scheme, and it’s even the plan that Al Gore has long favored. A real public discussion and debate about a carbon tax, tied to offsetting cuts in payroll or other taxes, could be the best news for the climate in a very long time.”

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