After a quote from Lindsay Graham, a senator from South Carolina, pronouncing the death of cap-and-trade, the coauthors write
Mr. Graham’s opinion matters because he has been the only Republican willing to work with Democratic senators on some form of climate change legislation.
But towards the end of the piece we read that
Two senators, Maria Cantwell of Washington, a Democrat, and Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican, have proposed a system known as “cap and dividend” under which power plants, steel mills, refineries and other major carbon emitters would have to pay for permits to pollute, with all of the money being rebated to consumers to cover the higher costs of energy and manufactured goods.
So: Graham is the only Republican willing to collaborate, but Collins has also sponsored a carbon-capping bill (one that would allow trading too).
Even worse—in fact, much worse—the article completely mischaracterizes Cantwell-Collins. It does not, unlike Kerry-Boxer, require industry-by-industry emission permits. Instead, it requires permits for introducing fossil fuels into the economy, whether by extraction or importation. It goes after carbon from the top of the food chain, making its cap comprehensive, unlike approaches that try to determine which uses of fuels will be regulated and by how much. This also neatly sidesteps the political morass that results from inviting each industry to lobby for its own dispensations. Auctioning fossil fuel permits and rebating the proceeds to the public, as Cantwell-Collins proposes, is not an evasion of environmental responsibility, but a rational attempt to make the inevitable energy price increases economically and politically palatable.
The real story is not the death of climate change policy, but the collapse of one particular initiative that was largely smoke and mirrors, fatally compromised by payoffs to any business alliance that stuck out its hand. The bad news is good news, unless all we know is what we read in the papers, feel discouraged and give up.