Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, the double-minded man on cap-and-tax, is continuing his high-stepping through the the hot coals of global warming policy prescriptions. In a Flathead Beacon article that attempts to assess the prospects of the national Waxman-Markey bill, the chairman of the Western Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association is said to “clarify” his position on carbon emissions trading schemes, but in reality he only muddies further:
In an interview last week, Schweitzer clarified his position, saying he “categorically” believes gasses produced by humans, like methane and CO2, were causing climate change and the U.S. needs to take action to reduce emissions of these gasses. But then added: “Do I believe that the carbon cap-and-trade system is the best proposal? The answer is no.”
As for Waxman-Markey, Schweitzer said, “I have some concerns with it” and that he hasn’t “been able to find anyone who can understand” the bill.
But Schweitzer would not speculate on the political prospects of Waxman-Markey’s passage, saying only that the bill is sure to be altered by the Senate and eventual conference committees, which could result in a much different bill. Nor did the governor say he backed cap-and-dividend. Instead, he said he would like to see some type of policy mechanism where fees on carbon emissions were used to develop new technologies dedicated to a cleaner, more efficient energy system, encompassing everything from carbon capture, to new transmission grids, to wind and solar power. Such a system would allow the market to motivate companies to develop these technologies, whether a carbon cap is imposed or not.
“I don’t know that you need a hard cap if you send clear market signals that you need to decrease carbon dioxide emissions,” Schweitzer said.
So what does that mean for his state’s continued participation in the Western Climate Initiative’s cap-and-tax scheme, as the governor sees it? Your guess is as good as anyone’s, but he will probably be allowed to evade a straight answer as long as Montanans (and their media) let him.