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R.I.P., Cap-and-Trade?

Prospects for the once-favored climate-change legislation appear to have gone up in smoke.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

December 24, 2012 - 1:37 pm
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Upton in particular questions whether man contributes to global warming. Eban Burnham-Snyder, spokesman for the Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee, said it is “a gross understatement” to say the two chairmen oppose the cap-and-trade effort.

“Anything is possible, of course,” Burnham-Snyder said. “There’s still a great appetite with Congressman Markey and others like Congressman Waxman, who was the other sponsor of the bill, to try to set limits on greenhouse gas.”

Democratic lawmakers prefer cap-and-trade, Burnham-Snyder said. But they’re open to other ideas.

Republican concerns stem from the fear that cap-and-trade will increase energy costs by as much as 65 percent, leading some to characterize the system as “cap-and-tax.” It could also result in increased unemployment and prove a drag on the economy. Whitfield cites the cap-and-trade effort as further evidence of the Democrats’ war on coal.

Cap-and-trade originally was a Republican concept, implemented during the administration of President George H.W. Bush to address sulfur dioxide pollution widely thought to cause acid rain.

That history has led Obama to speculate that recent GOP opposition has more to do with his support for the concept than concerns over its impact on the economy. The president essentially ignored the issue during his recent successful re-election campaign but he cited Republican obstruction during an address before an Associated Press luncheon in Washington on April 3.

“Cap and trade was originally proposed by conservatives and Republicans as a market-based solution to solving environmental problems,” Obama said. “The first president to talk about cap and trade was George H.W. Bush.  Now you’ve got the other party essentially saying we shouldn’t even be thinking about environmental protection; let’s gut the EPA.”

Ironically, some evidence exists suggesting that cap-and-trade not only isn’t necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but that it might serve as an impediment to reduction. A study by Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan,

Washington-based group that conducts research on environmental issues, maintains the U.S. already is on course to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets without cap-and-trade. By 2020, according to the report, emissions will have declined by 16.3 percent from 2005 levels.

Cap-and-trade, had it passed, according to Resources for the Future, would have resulted in lower reductions.

Dallas Burtraw, prime author of the report “U.S. Status on Climate Change Legislation,” said new greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act that took effect absent cap-and-trade and improved vehicle performance standards are contributing to the decline.

But Waxman maintains additional steps are necessary, noting that “our nation experienced 11 climate-related disasters this year that cost more than $1 billion each.”

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Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.
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