So, here it is, this big disappointment for many, the great global warming bill passes the House by this 7 vote margin (which means it needed the 8 Republicans who voted for it to pass), a bill criticized by many here for many reasons (Peter Dorman especially), and by all reports loaded down with even more giveaways, loopholes, breaks for farmers and corporations, with a tariff trigger mechanism for 2020 that Obama does not like, but given how far out it is may not matter anyway, and the darned thing is so long (1300 pages?) that it will be a long time before we figure out what is in it really, although at least we know that it involves some sort of cap and trade mechanism, maybe, although with something like 85% of the permits given away rather than auctioned off, and emissions limits to go down so slowly that they will be considered a joke by the rest of the world in Copenhagen in December. What is a body to do or think of this?
Well, actually, the more I think about it, the more I think it is a genuine achievement, at least potentially. That the vote was so close is a reminder of how much opposition to doing anything about global warming there is in the Congress, and when it gets down to it, the public at large, despite all the polls showing people for doing something in the abstract. After all, 44 House Democrats voted against this. While there are Republicans who are lunatics and goofballs following wacko theories and listening to Rush Limbaugh, I suspect the solid majority of those 44 Dems believe that global warming is happening. But they do not see it as any near term threat to their districts, while they see serious potential costs to businesses and employment in their districts, something they are not keen on during a recession at all. After all, for much of the country, global warming is actually economically beneficial in the near term (lower winter heating bills). And in 1995, the Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-Hagel amendment, which said the US should sign no agreement that did not have China and India agreeing to emissions controls, which pretty much put the kibbosh on the US ever ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.
So, keep in mind, folks, cap and trade has been working pretty well for SO2. If warming clearly continues, there is now a mechanism in place that can be used to tighten up and enforce CO2 emissions reductions, if there is sufficient political will (if things cool down, as some predict, well, the whole thing will just be off anyway). So, now we have to get it through the Senate, even if most of the rest of the world thinks it is a pathetic joke. It will still be better than doing the big fat nothing that has been done so far.