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Conservative Senate Democrats balk at cap-and-trade

Things aren't looking good for climate legislation in 2010.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Don't put too much faith in politico. They're writing about a real concern, but fail to note that none of the skeptical quotes they have are from the real key players here.

Landrieu and Nelson? They're the two solid Democratic no's on the bill. Of course they don't want it considered. For the rest, the question is whether they'll actually vote against it or just grumble about being forced to take another tough vote and demand ugly concessions.

If you want to watch the odds on this one, watch Baucus, Lincoln, and, say, McCaskill. The former two because their committees have to move the bill forward; the latter because she's pretty representative of the coal state dems who'll have to buy into some kind of deal.

Obviously the chances for the bill are still pretty rough, but that article doesn't capture the reasons why. And remember that doing an energy-only approach would require finding funding...

Posted by: RobK_ | December 28, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The only part of this I wonder about is the "in 2010" part.

Of course there arent 60 votes in the Senate for cap and trade, and when it comes time to actually count votes and not listen to speeches there probably arent 51 votes.

Any plan that would really get at controlling carbon emissions is going to cause short term pain to the US economy by raising the price of fossil fuels gas prices at the pump and electricity bills would necessarily have to go up, which may be needed to solve the problem of climate change but thats of no concern to Congress.

Right now its akin to asking Congress to inject themselves with cyanide to vote for this with 10% unemployment.

This is why I'm fairly confident we're going to see what planet Earth looks like at 550-700ppm carbon emissions.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | December 28, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

What makes you think there'll be anybody left to see, zeppelin?

Posted by: drindl | December 28, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

If somebody had actually proposed an "economy wide" system of carbon restrictions it might actually have a chance. Why would a coal or oil state legislator get behind a system that exempts the entire agricultural sector?

Posted by: tl_houston | December 28, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

the chance of a cap andtrade law being signed by Obama in 2010 are less then 15%. This idea is much less popular than HC reform and that passed the Senate by exactly one vote.

Posted by: MBP2 | December 28, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I would agree with the first comment's skepticism about the source. It's not surprising to find Landrieu complaining about cap-and-trade. Her website does not list the environment as an issue at all. It creeps in indirectly under the heading coastal issues, but makes no mention of the fact that global warming threatens the coast. At the same time Politico's process-oriented reporting shows no concern whatsoever for the actual problems associated with climate change.

What is most noteworthy about the Senators' complaining, however, is the sense that they should not be expected to work on difficult issues. They seem to think that because they got around to voting on health reform they should get a pass on doing any other hard work for a year or more. I would label the Senators' stance as childish, but that would be unfairly maligning children.

Posted by: bdlieberman | December 28, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse


I dont think even the worst models predict a total destruction of human civilization on planet Earth, the ones I've seen and read in recent years predict devastation to pretty much all the coastal land masses, and significant temperature increases to the point of making the land unlivable along the equator worldwide.

But, you certainly could be right. You get up over 550ppm and all bets are off for man's ability to survive.

Anyway, drill baby drill!!

Posted by: zeppelin003 | December 28, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

You want cap and trade? You want strong anti-global warming legislation?

End the filibuster.

Then you won't need conservative Senators.

Ezra, you said that you didn't think there were, or would be in the next Senate, 51 (only 50 may be necessary with the VP) Democratic senators who would end the filibuster. That may be, to a large extent, akin to saying that there won't be 50 Democratic Senators who are really seriously concerned about stopping a significant threat of massive planetary destruction, as well as being really serious about major financial reform, campaign finance reform to stop the buying of government, strongly improving universal health insurance, and many more things of great importance.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | December 29, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

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