One of the many reasons why the Lieberman-Warner (and Boxer substitute) bill dropped dead on the Senate floor was costs — costs to the economy and costs to households already burdened by rising food and record-high gas prices. A post-mortem in Time observed the floor’s action was rampant with “economic fear mongering.”
The Time article (which Joe blogged on earlier) goes into more detail about how delay tactics and the Republican messaging on economic costs dominated the bill’s presence. Simple messages are always more successful than complex messages, and while the overall message (slow global warming) is pretty clear, good legislation will be indescribably complicated (the devil is in the details).
How to deal with global warming and high energy costs is a question that will not go away. What leaked out of the Senate last week demonstrated that, as does an on-going debate in Britain (on how to address ‘fuel poverty’).
The issue of energy costs to Americans is dear to many of us advocating global warming legislation, despite our also seeing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Concern for low- and middle-income Americans is not exclusive of science-based climate policy.
That is why the Center for American Progress has advocated that 100 percent of the allowances in a cap and trade scheme be auctioned so that rebates can be given back to Americans most burdened by high energy costs. That is also why Obama’s climate plan and the iCAP (Investing in Climate Action and Protection) legislation introduced by Rep. Ed Markey also support a full auction.
Before any rant on the high costs of global warming legislation is given an ounce of credibility, look at what’s already happening with simply stupid energy policy:
ONE – A report released yesterday by the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association surveyed the impact of high energy costs on Americans of all income brackets, and of course found low- and moderate-income Americans most squeezed.
TWO – Our trade deficit is in the dumps. In the past year, it has skyrocketed, driven by none other than crude oil imports.
THREE – $4. The national average price of a gallon of gas – need I say more?
Energy policy is economic policy, and voices on both sides of the aisle are right that we need better of both. And, yes, we need to be protecting the most vulnerable Americans, but the status quo is NOT doing that, and no one can claim it is. But done well, I think global warming legislation is a step in the desired direction, not a setback.
– Kari Manlove