Did the Senate Just Preemptively Kill Cap and Trade?

April 2, 2009 | Roger Pielke, Jr.,

Cross posted from Prometheus: The Science Policy Blog

The ability of Congressional legislation on cap and trade to result in actual emissions reductions was dealt a serious blow yesterday. An Amendment was introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD) on the Budget Resolution and its text is as follows:

To amend the deficit-neutral reserve fund for climate change legislation to require that such legislation does not increase electricity or gasoline prices.


What is this? Climate change legislation cannot increase electricity or gasoline prices? The entire purpose of cap and trade is in fact to increase the costs of carbon-emitting sources of energy, which dominate US energy consumption. The Thune Amendment thus undercuts the entire purpose of cap and trade.

What was the vote on the Thune Amendment? 89-8 in favor of the Amendment, 48 Democrats and 41 Republicans. Only 8 members of the Senate were willing to go on record saying that they support the purpose of a cap and trade bill, to make carbon-emitting energy more expensive. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) voted for the Thune Amendment had this to say:

Any kind of cap-and-trade system that comes forward will not raise energy and gas prices.


The Thune Amendment effectively kills cap and trade as a mechanism for reducing emissions. I have little doubt that the legislation will go forward, and it likely will pass in some form and do many things. Its just that reducing emissions won't be among them. Cap and trade is dead, but the charade will go on.

For those who may be wondering, this post is not an April Fools Joke.