The chance that the Senate will pass a comprehensive energy-rationing (a k a climate) bill this year remains close to zero. BP’s big oil spill in the Gulf changes very little.
The global warming movement peaked last June 26 when the House passed the Waxman-Markey bill. When members went home for the Fourth of July, many who voted for it discovered that their constituents were angry and mobilized.
Seeing the public reaction, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dropped plans to move a cap-and-trade bill before the August recess and turned to health care reform. It’s been all downhill since then.
The Kerry-Boxer bill, which is very similar to Waxman-Markey, passed the Environment and Public Works Committee last fall, but it was clear that it couldn’t get 51 votes, let alone 60, on the floor. That’s when Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) began working on a “middle-of-the-road” package with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).
Even if he does finally release a draft of the measure this week, it’s still not going anywhere. Whether Graham is on board doesn’t matter because he doesn’t bring any other Republicans with him.
Kerry’s draft has restricted cap-and trade to electric utilities only. And he’s stopped calling it cap-and-trade because the American people have figured out that it is an indirect tax on them. Now it’s “pollution reduction and investment.” Similarly, a gasoline tax has been renamed “linked fee.” Call it whatever you want, it’s still a tax that consumers will have to pay. Adding some offshore oil or nuclear incentives or clean coal research can’t hide the fact that prices will go up when energy is rationed.
What’s become increasingly apparent is that this legislation no longer has much to do with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a monstrous collection of payoffs to big business special interests, ranging from Goldman Sachs to Duke Energy to General Electric.
(This piece originally appeared on the New York Times’s Room for Debate web site. )