March 18, 2010
Moving On: Democrats After Cap and Trade
Now that Obama has officially opened the door to alternatives to the conventional cap and trade framework, Congressional Democrats are finally willing to admit the policy is dead and focus on finding an economically and politically viable Plan B.
According to E&E (subs. req'd), efforts to formulate that Plan B have just begun and are as yet indecisive. One thing, however, is now clear:
Senate Democrats may have emerged from their much-hyped caucus meeting without a clear plan for this summer's energy bill, but they appeared to agree on one point: Cap and trade doesn't have the votes...
It is unclear whether Obama and Senate Democratic leadership intend to push aggressively for cap and trade or any mechanism to price carbon this year. Obama failed to call for it directly in his Oval Office address this week and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday declined to promise to include a price on carbon in an energy package slated for floor debate next month.
Reid said yesterday that his goals for energy legislation are dealing with the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, creating jobs and cutting pollution. "There are many strong passions and arguments about the best way to achieve these goals," Reid said yesterday after the Democratic caucus met to discuss an energy bill. "And I'm always focused on what is possible."
Democrats hope that another caucus meeting slated for next week will help push them closer to a consensus about how to proceed...
"Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, people will come together and come up with a comprehensive plan," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). "There's a lot of hurdles to be jumped."
With time now short in the Congressional calendar this year, it is unlikely that Congress will implement a comprehensive response to our nation's multifold energy and climate challenges. But as the failed cap and trade framework falls away, space is now opening for new and productive ways forward.