Dem Senator: Get rid of cap-and-trade

The measure of the impact of health-care protests can now be seen on another major item on the Barack Obama agenda.  Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) has called on the Senate to jettison the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill for this year, calling it “too big” after the political turmoil of the eruption of anger on ObamaCare.  Three other Democrats have publicly supported the idea of focusing only on promotion of renewable energy:

The U.S. Senate should abandon efforts to pass legislation curbing greenhouse-gas emissions this year and concentrate on a narrower bill to require use of renewable energy, four Democratic lawmakers say.

“The problem of doing both of them together is that it becomes too big of a lift,” Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas said in an interview last week. “I see the cap-and-trade being a real problem.” …

Ben Nelson of Nebraska and North Dakota Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan joined Lincoln in suggesting that the climate measure be put off.

“We should separate the energy bill from the climate bill,” Conrad told reporters this month. ‘It needs to be done as soon as we can get it done,” he said, referring to the energy legislation.

Climate legislation would require 60 votes in the Senate. Most Republicans have said they oppose the cap-and-trade measure, and at least 15 of the Senate’s 60-member Democratic majority have said the House-passed version would hurt the economy and needs to be revamped to win their support.

The cap-and-trade bill actually has more problems politically than ObamaCare.  Waxman-Markey will split the Democratic caucus in the Senate along both ideological and regional lines.  Senators like Lincoln and Nelson object because they represent red states that dislike government interference in private industries, especially when the intervention has the explicit goal of making everything a lot more expensive, thanks to penalties on energy production.  But even normally center-left and liberal Senators will resist the idea of killing the coal industry, especially in places like Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and other Rust Belt states.

Instead, the fifteen Democrats want to skip the entire greenhouse-gas debate and focus instead strictly on encouraging development of green energy production.  That can get done with a lot less expense while eliminating a government takeover of the energy sector.  If the goal of the climate-control crowd was really a boost for green energy as a means to eliminate coal as a factor through natural obsolescence, this approach should not offend them.

However, that’s never really been the goal.  The goal has been to have government seize control of the means of production in industry, and energy is the core industry to control in that regard.  That’s why this move among these Democratic Senators will be as welcome as a tax audit to Waxman-Markey supporters.  Unfortunately for them, the radical nature of ObamaCare has exposed the radical approach of this administration and Congressional leadership, which means that they’re unlikely to win any of the Democrats back from that position — and now can’t count on any Republican support at all.

Jazz Shaw Jun 16, 2021 11:01 AM ET