Brown-in Spells “Brown-out” for Cap-and-Trade
The election of Scott Brown and subsequent harpooning of an imminent overhaul to the health care system has tempered enthusiasm that progressives will succeed in implementing green energy reform through “cap-and-trade”. Alternatively, environmentalists will shift gear to advance legislation that will create jobs in the green global markets.
Cap-and-trade is a system whereby corporations would be capped in the amount of potentially harmful carbon emissions they can produce. Companies that are “over budget” in their emissions could purchase larger emission quantities from corporations that are under budget. Proponents of cap-and-trade claim that reform would limit damage that manufacturers could impart on the environment. Detractors counter that cap and trade is merely a stopgap measure that would merely drive up costs without having any significant effect at reducing emissions.
White House officials insist that President Obama remains committed to climate reform. At a conference last week, deputy director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Gary Guzy said “there continues to be very strong support among a range of legislators for comprehensive climate legislation that includes cap and trade.” Guzy’s comments stand in the face of legislation gridlock resulting from nearly unanimous partisan voting.
Fractures in the Senate have only deepened since the Massachusetts special election cost the Democrats from holding 60 seats and created a stronger need for compromise. Senator John Kerry remains resolute that broad climate reform is a certainty even if legislation may take longer than progressives have hoped. As Kerry stated “I can’t tell you whether it will happen this year or not. But it’s going to happen. It is inevitable that the United States will deal with climate and energy. The sooner you do it, the cheaper it is.”
The visible horizon does not hold images of bold climate legislation. Rather, Congress will turn its focus toward addressing unemployment which is as high as 14% in some states. According to Graham, right now, the public’s focus on the environment is legislation that may create jobs, whether in the form of offshore drilling or building wind turbines.