As the Washington Post argued recently: “This is what the 2010 midterm elections will change about U.S. climate policy: Cap-and-trade was dead. Now it will be deader.”
And the political right are crowing over the corpse.
One of the right-wing attack dog organisations that is funded by the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, boats that the entire leadership for the GOP team in the House has signed the No Climate Tax pledge, stating they will “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”
James Valvo, who managed the pledge for the Koch front group said “This is a great sign that Congress and the American people realize that cap-and-trade is a policy designed to grow government and transfer control of the energy sector to government, not a plan to help the environment”.
Whether Valvo just deliberately misrepresents the arguments over trade or clearly doesn’t understand them is beyond the point. The main point is that Cap and Trade is dead.
Even Valvo’s bette noir, Al Gore now believes that the US will not see a clean energy or climate bill for “at least two years” following the midterms.
And the New York Times, in an editorial today, laments the situation of the current Congress, and that is even before the Republicans get hold of the House.
“This Congress’s record on energy and environmental issues is shameful. The Senate, paralyzed by Republican opposition and indifferent Democratic leadership, could not muster the 60 votes to pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions. It even failed to respond to the gulf oil spill.”
Before you lament the current situation, the paper points out the obvious:
“The next Congress is sure to be worse. The Democratic majority in the Senate will be smaller. And the House — which has led the way in recent years — and its committees will be dominated by Republicans who are loudly skeptical about the science behind climate change and determined to cripple President Obama’s authority to use regulation to tackle the problem.”
But, the paper argues that, in the lame duck session in the next few weeks, all is not lost and it is “still possible to get some important legislation through.”
The paper argues that a bill promoting the use of natural gas in heavy-duty trucks and creating a pilot program for building a network of recharging stations for electric vehicles could be passed.
The bill, which would spend $5.5 billion over 10 years in tax credits and other incentives to encourage manufacturers to produce natural gas vehicles and companies and consumers to buy them, would also encourage research and development on electric cars.
As the bill would be paid with a small increase in the per-barrel fee oil companies pay into the oil spill liability fund, the industry is up in arms.
As the paper notes: “Oil companies are screaming, even though it would mean a tiny, one-thirteenth-of-a-cent increase in the price of a gallon of gasoline. Big Oil should not be allowed to kill off this bill.”
The paper argues that both houses must also renew tax subsidies for renewable energy sources like wind and solar power and finishes by saying “This does not relieve the White House and the Democrats of the responsibility to press forward with broader legislation to combat climate change.”
In this sense the White House has a small window of opportunity at the upcoming Cancun climate summit later this month.
A year ago at Copenhagen the talk was all about grand deals, but those are as dead as cap and trade.
But as the Post argues the best hope may be “a series of small agreements on how to pay for measures such as reducing deforestation or how to help poor countries adapt to a warming climate.”
There are enough issues that are close enough to resolution that an important outcome could be achieved,” UN Assistant Secretary-General Robert Orr told reporters in New York. “It is our assessment that significant progress is possible.”