Climate Legislation End Game

Many reliably informed people I’ve talked with thinks a Cap and Trade bill has virtually no chance of passing the Senate. There are just way more likely Dem no votes then GOP yes votes. And yet both the Senate Finance and Environment and Public Works Committees are full steam ahead in working on climate legislation. Why?

Why is Max Baucus so interested in asserting authority over carbon allocation if no legislation limiting carbons emissions can pass? Why did the Environment and Public Works Committee ever want to fast track climate legislation if it’s DOA on the floor of the Senate?

Here’s are a couple ideas on the end game, but if you’ve got a better one let me hear it.

It’s a long term play.
Both the EPW and Finance Committee are looking to protect and expand their turf in the long term, so they’re rushing to work on and lay claim to a bill, which has close to zero chance to pass this term. Eventually we’ll have to confront this issue and when we do they want authority.

Most of the bill will become law
Just not Cap and Trade. The Senate shown a lot of interest in energy policy and with a few compromises regarding nuclear power and carbon capture subsidies you could see a lot of votes for a clean energy bill sans Cap and Trade. There’s also potential for legislation helping the EPA rationally regulate Carbon Emissions.

It’s too early to say
Sure it’s looking pretty bleak for strong or even weak climate action, but you just can’t predict the future. Maybe the prospect of EPA regulation of carbon emissions will change minds. Maybe if you re-frame the issue it’ll get a second look from some Senators.

P.S.
I’m not saying climate activists should give up on pushing for Cap and Trade or other meaningful efforts to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, Carrots and Sticks will be continuing are direct advocacy efforts on the climate front this month. If you’re interested in joining us, let us know.

-Chris

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