Friday, June 25, 2010

Record Heat, And Is Climate Control Legislation Dead?

Science Daily reports that May had the highest average global temperature on record with June quite likely to join it. Nevertheless, in his address to the nation about the BP oil spill, while President Obama called for the passage of clean energy legislation, he somehow neglected to add a call for the Senate to pass any sort of climate control legislation, whether of their own construction or some variation on the complicated cap-and-trade bill that Nancy Pelosi managed to barely get through the House of Representatives just over a year ago after a massive effort. It may be that this is due to the end of any sort of Republican support after Lindsey Graham jumped ship after Obama said we needed to pass immigration reform. Whatever the reason, I fear that this means that climate legislation is dead now, and probably for the foreseeable future, as I expect the Congress to become more hostile after this fall's election.

Mark Thoma at Economists View links to an essay by the ever-optimistic Robert Stavins, who runs through a variety of possible policies in the apparent wake of the failure to get the House bill through the Senate this year. In the end, he sides with some sort of market-based approach that "puts a price on carbon," whether a cap-and-trade or a carbon tax. However, in the face of the knee jerk opposition to any taxes by Republicans, he concludes that the best option to a "cap-and-trade bill in 2010" is one in 2011. I fear I agree, but I now fear that we are probably going to get nothing for the foreseeable future.

What is really annoying about this is that I think there was a window last fall or early winter, which got knocked out partly by the long drawn-out fight over health care, but also coincided at the last best moment when health care finally passed with the very snowy and cold winter in the crucial mid-Atlantic states, as well as the fallout from the wildly exaggerated and ultimately phoney "climategate" non-scandal about the emails from East Anglia, which were proven to be no big deal at all. But we had senators with their children making snowmen and houses on the Capitol lawn while the conservative talk machine spewed on and on about the scandal, since dismissed as such. So, now that we are experiencing record heat, funny that we see none of these people saying anything. They are too busy trying to get BP off the hook for the spill and trying to link Obama to Hitler for his efforts to get a compensation fund for the victims of the spill. Controlling global warming has gone by the boards off into the sunset of other political impossibilities.


gordon said...

Just as a matter of interest, if the US does ever implement a cap-and-trade programme nationally, what will happen to existing subsidies to fossil fuels? Will they be abolished? Will the cap-and-trade programme just sit on top of continuing subsidies? Has anybody thought about this?

(Crossposted from Economist's View)

gordon said...

And there is a link to the Gulf oil spill. See this item on subsidies for deep water drilling in the L.A. Times:

An extract:

"But there is little disagreement that the industry received significant federal support for such deep-water drilling. Since the government began aggressively issuing offshore drilling permits under President Reagan, the industry has received tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies, including exemptions from royalty payments — the fees due when a company extracts resources from U.S. government property.

"The royalty waiver program was established by Congress in 1995, when oil was selling for about $18 a barrel and drilling in deep water was seen as unprofitable without a subsidy. Today, oil sells for about $70 a barrel, but the subsidy continues".