Cap and Trade Alive?

Brad Plummer asking people to slow down in declaring the Cap and Trade bill dead:

Seems like the conventional wisdom in Washington right now is that there’s no way the Senate passes a climate bill in 2010—especially after that long, gory health care battle we just saw. Here’s The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza: “No matter what Obama and his advisers said… there is now no chance that the Administration’s climate-change proposal will come up for a vote in the Senate prior to the 2010 election. Politicians never like casting controversial votes, but they like doing so even less in an election year.”

Cillizza posted that in late December, shortly after Politico published its own story on how “moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year.” Now, there’s slightly less to the Politico story than meets the eye, since the main cap-bashing quotes came from Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson, who have been surefire “no” votes since day one. (Nelson we’re all familiar with, and Landrieu’s a no because she relies on support from Louisiana’s oil refiners, who seem to outweigh any concern that her state’s particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and hurricanes.) But Politico’s right that it’ll be a tough slog.

That said, there don’t seem to be any signs that Democrats are planning to relent just yet.

Later in the post…

Then there’s the biggest reason climate change isn’t likely to slink away in 2010—the EPA, remember, is still preparing to regulate carbon-dioxide on its own if Congress doesn’t step in. That’s already prompted a few swing senators, like Mark Pryor, to reconsider their stance on cap-and-trade. The Senate doesn’t have a choice between doing nothing and doing something. It’s a choice between doing something or having the EPA do it for them and making a lot of businesses angry. (One caveat: As Kate Sheppard reports, on January 20th, the Senate will vote on a Murkowski amendment to strip the EPA’s CO2 authority. It’s unlikely this gets 60 votes, but if it does pass, that obviously makes a huge difference.)

I’d say I disagree, but I’m not even sure the content of the post supports the assertion that Cap and Trade is at all likely to pass. Rather it advances the semantic distinction between the bill still being on the Senate agenda and the bill actually having much of chance of passing. It’s on the agenda, so it’s alive.

It’s hard to imagine that if Murkowski has any chance to get 60 votes to retract existing authority, you’ll see 60 votes to create a new authority. There’s a lot of blah, blah details about how politicians don’t like EPA authority, but are willing support other carbon reduction which aren’t very compelling. Has the Senate ever voted to retract federal authority on a major issue, only to turn around massively expand the same authority?

Not holding my breath.

-Chris

UPDATE:
I’d of course like to be proven wrong on Congressional commitment to address climate change.

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