If changes in the public mood and the party alignment of the U.S. Senate have stalled healthcare legislation, they may have thrown the highly anticipated climate bill under a bus.
Even before Republican Scott Brown’s stunning election to the Senate in traditionally Democratic Massachusetts last month, it was proving hard to corral moderate Democrats to support a bill capping greenhouse gas emissions. Now they’re afraid to back anything that could be perceived as harmful to the economy. “Realistically, the cap-and-trade bills in the House and the Senate are going nowhere,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the New York Times. That’s a distressing comment coming from one of the three senators supposedly crafting a compromise climate bill that’s capable of achieving a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
President Obama has backed down too. On Tuesday, he signaled that cap-and-trade could go the way of healthcare reform’s “public option,” saying it could be removed from the climate bill. That would eliminate the market mechanism for pricing greenhouse gas pollution — and without setting such a carbon price, other measures under consideration, such as a national renewable energy standard, won’t go far enough to significantly slow global warming.