Saturday, April 24, 2010

Carbon Pricing

Via TPM, it looks like the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill is going to end up watering down the existing watered-down climate warming proposals in at least three ways:
  • Carbon pricing will be delayed until 2013 instead of 2012.
  • A ceiling on carbon prices will be set at $25/ton, instead of the previous goal of $30/ton. For comparison, the current price of carbon on the EU exchange is just under 15 Euros/ton. A UK panel has suggested a floor price of 15 Euros per ton, and that prices up to 100 Euros per ton may be necessary to spur the appropriate level of investment.
  • The government will extend various subsidies to the nuclear industry, such that at least 12 new power plants can be built.
All in all, this feels like weak tea. Especially when you consider that, as we saw with health care and we will probably see with financial reform, Senators who want to offer strengthening will probably be beaten back in an effort to hold the existing compromise together.

And of course here we have the saddest lines of the whole piece:
Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said the bill may contain items considered necessary to get votes.

Asked whether the legislation might be too weak from an environmental standpoint in order to lure Republican support, Claussen said, "No. People whose major concern is climate change have to temper their ambitions.

"The reality is you have to get 60 votes (in the Senate) for anything to happen," Claussen said.
Once again, let's be very clear on this. The Senate is populated by human beings. Prior to roughly 1992, the human beings who populated the Senate adhered to the norm that filibusters were rarely, if ever, utilized. There's nothing preventing the human beings who currently populate the Senate from returning to those norms. Likewise, there's no reason to view Rule XXII as a commandment handed down from on high; the rule was made by Senators, and it could be unmade by a different set of Senators.
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