March 20, 2008
Maryland’s Failed Global Warming Bill
For a preview of what may happen when it comes time to pass federal cap and trade legislation, look to Maryland. A state bill calling for dramatic reductions in carbon emissions failed there last week because of worries it would cost jobs and hurt the economy:
Environmental activists couldn't work out a compromise with unions and industry groups that feared the plan would cost jobs.
The sticking point was how Maryland would achieve reductions in greenhouse gases blamed for climate change. The bill called for dramatic reductions in carbon emissions -- and a goal of slashing them 90 percent by 2050 - but the bill was vague about how that would happen.
The Department of Environment was charged with enforcing the cuts, and industry groups worried the enforcement could bring draconian measures that would put factories out of business.
More than 50 steelworkers wearing hardhats greeted lawmakers as they came to work Monday, and they whooped 12 hours later when they learned the bill was rejected.
Those 50 cheering steelworkers foreshadow the struggle we should anticipate when we try to pass cap and trade at the national level. Most major environmental groups have been calling for a bill that avoids giveaways to Big Oil and Big Coal, but the case in Maryland is a reminder that these monolithic bad guys aren't the only things standing in the way of getting strong legislation on climate. What's missing is a significant package to address the economy and energy prices -- without it, this may turn into a fight between environmentalist elites and the working class.