May the Farce Be With You

by Steven F. Hayward

While most of us are concentrating our fire on the costs and bureaucracy that Waxman-Markey entails, no one has noticed one salient political fact: Had the Bush administration and the GOP Congress proposed the current language back in, say, 2005, all of the leading green groups would have vehemently opposed it as an ineffective sellout to corporate interests. (See, for example, the latest estimate from the Breakthrough Institute that Waxman-Markey will only reduce GHG emissions by about 0.5 percent by 2020.)  But the greens are so in-the-bag for Obama and Pelosi, and so desperate to pass something — anything — before Copenhagen in December, that they’re willing to become shameless hypocrites.

Someone over at Mother Jones magazine noticed. Although a bit convoluted, some of this assessment is dead-on: 

To be successful, a market-based strategy must raise the price of carbon sufficiently to change corporate and personal behavior. But the bill clearly demonstrates the lack of political will in Washington to impose such a dramatic price increase. Indeed, the bill explicitly notes that the purpose for rewarding free allowances in such enormous quantities is to mitigate price increases. . .

Most environmental leaders and Democratic Party officials argue that we should support this bill no matter how imperfect because it represents an important, small step forward. Strip it of its cap-and-trade provisions and I would agree. Retain the cap-and-trade provisions and I see it as a giant step backward that may well hobble further progress in federal efforts to combat climate change for years to come.

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