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Cap-and-Trade Kills Careers in Congress
Thirty-one House Democrats who voted for H.R. 2545, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, were defeated in the elections. The Senate did take a vote on cap-and-trade.
Inside the Beltway
On Cap-and-Trade: They Lost, We Won
“Greens Desperate to Avoid Blame” was the headline on Darren Samuelsohn and Robin Bravender’s story in Politico on Wednesday. Environmental pressure groups moved quickly to spin the election results as having nothing to do with them. In particular, they claimed that passage in the House of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill did not cause Democrats to lose. On the contrary, the reality is that Waxman-Markey did contribute to the defeat of a number of Democrats, as I argue in Politico’s Energy Arena.
More significant is the fact that the new Republican majority in the House is largely skeptical of the claim that global warming is a potential crisis and is close to unanimously opposed to cap-and-trade and other energy-rationing measures. Not only is cap-and-trade dead, but there is a good chance that the House next year will move legislation to block or delay the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The question is, can such a measure pass the Democratic-controlled Senate? There is certainly a majority in the Senate for blocking EPA, but sixty votes will be needed. My guess is that there will be more than sixty votes. As EPA regulations start to bite next year, Senators will start to hear complaints from their constituents. And a number of Democratic Senators are up for re-election in 2012 and will want to avoid the fate of so many of their colleagues this year.
President Obama Reacts
President Barack Obama left on Friday for a ten-day trip to Asia beginning in India. Before he left, he held a press conference on the election results and gave an interview to Sixty Minutes, which has been released by CBS ahead of its broadcast on Sunday night. In reply to two questions at his press conference, the President spoke at length about alternatives to cap-and-trade. He said, “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. And I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”
The President said that there were several areas where he might be able to find common ground with the Republicans in Congress. These included natural gas, nuclear power, and electric vehicles. He also said that, “The EPA is under a court order that says greenhouse gases are a pollutant that fall under their jurisdiction.” This is a misunderstanding, but he then also seemed to express some openness to congressional intervention in EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions: “And I think EPA wants help from the legislature on this. I don’t think that the desire is to somehow be protective of their powers here.”
The Dream Team Returns
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) survived a tough election challenge and so is expected to be back in the 112th Congress as Majority Leader. What is much more surprising is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) announced today that she would run for Minority Leader in the 112th Congress.
Across the States
Proposition 23, a California ballot initiative to suspend AB 32, the State’s global warming law, until unemployment decreases to 5.5 %, was defeated on Tuesday by a 61% to 29% vote. Opponents of Prop 23, primarily venture capitalists with a financial stake in green energy mandates, spent more than $30 million to persuade Californians to vote against it. As a result of Proposition 23’s defeat, Governor-elect Jerry Brown will have unlimited power to regulate California’s economy in the name of climate change mitigation. In his previous job as California Attorney General, Brown interpreted AB 32 broadly. Indeed, he used the legislation to sue California counties for failing to address global warming in their transportation plans adequately. Expect more of the same.
Opposition to cap-and-trade featured prominently in the winning campaigns of both New Mexico Governor-elect Susana Martinez (R) and Congressman-elect Steve Pearce (R). Yet, on the day after New Mexico voters indicated their displeasure with energy-rationing climate policies, outgoing Governor Bill Richardson’s (D) administration committed the state to a regional cap-and-trade program. It remains to be seen whether Richardson can entrench the ruling so that it could withstand a likely challenge from incoming Governor Martinez.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.