When Sen. Dorgan finds out what’s in the climate bill — hint, hint, White House — he might just support it Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has a “Probability of Yes” vote (PrY) of 22% for the climate bill, as it’s currently written (see “Who are the swing Senators?“).   That is notwithstanding his April remarks:

North Dakota is the Saudi Arabia of wind….  I’m going to keep pushing for policies in Congress that help us develop our wind resource for the benefit of the whole country.”

Hard to do more for wind than the stimulus bill did — other than pass something like the Waxman-Markey climate and clean energy bill (with a stronger renewable standard).

Dorgan has, however, now published an op-ed in The Bismarck Tribune with a headline that befits his 22% PrY, “Reduce our CO2, yes … but cap-and-trade, no,” but with contents that mostly suggest he might actually be a real fence-sitter — and a potential filibuster buster — if somebody actually explained the bill to him and worked to address his concerns.

Indeed, the sole objections he raises to the bill — the potential for Wall Street to engage in questionable derivatives tradings and speculative bubbles that might drive the price of CO2 soaring — are actually addressed in Waxman-Markey by multiple provisions (as I discuss here and reprint below).  As an important aside, it would be almost impossible to write a bill reducing CO2 emissions that would not lead to “derivatives,” which, after all, include futures contracts and options.

If you are going to create a CO2 price — really the only way of reducing CO2 other than mandatory, command-and-control, sector-based emissions regulations (which it is impossible to believe Dorgan supports) — then Wall Street is going to create futures and options to allow companies to mitigate risk.  And that’s a very good thing, as even conservative economists will tell you.

The only question is whether you design a system with checks and balances against fraudulent derivatives and speculation, which this bill does.  No doubt it could be improved, and perhaps after someone explains the bill to him — Browner, Biden, Reid, Boxer … anyone? — Dorgan will join an effort to add more oversight.

Now, you might say that Dorgan isn’t interested in a real bill, that he is just positioning himself for a “no” vote.  Well, if so, he has written a very strange op-ed.  Let me excise all the “railing against Wall Street” stuff, and see for yourself:

I’m in favor of taking action to reduce CO2 emissions and to protect our environment….

I support capping carbon emissions. But it has to be done the right way, with targets and timelines that allow us to accomplish our goals without driving the cost of energy for homeowners and businesses out of sight…..

I’m willing to cap carbon to address the threat to our environment. But it has to be done right. I will support a plan that establishes workable caps, invests in technology to decarbonize fossil fuels and sends the majority of the revenue raised to consumers to offset increases in the price of electricity resulting from the caps.

Energy is an important part of our lives. We need to work to decarbonize the use of coal so that we can use our most abundant fossil energy resource. We have to maximize the development of renewable energy. Green, renewable energy protects our environment and it also makes us less dependent on foreign oil (70 percent of our oil comes from other countries).

Here’s what we need to do to protect our environment and make us less dependent on foreign oil:

1. Establish caps on carbon that are accompanied by both adequate research and development funding and reasonable timelines for implementation to develop and commercialize technologies that will greatly reduce the CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Well, that’s certainly Waxman-Markey.  You can’t argue the targets are too tough or that the bill doesn’t spend tens of billions of dollars on technology development or deployment.  In fact, as Waxman’s summary explains, the bill “Invest[s] in new clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, including energy efficiency and renewable energy ($90 billion in new investments by 2025), carbon capture and sequestration ($60 billion), electric and other advanced technology vehicles ($20 billion), and basic scientific research and development ($20 billion)” — see “A useful summary of Waxman-Markey.”

2. Use the majority of the revenue from a plan that caps CO2 to provide refund payments to those who would otherwise experience increased energy costs.

Again, that’s Waxman-Markey (see Robert Stavins: “The appropriate characterization of the Waxman-Markey allocation is that more than 80% of the value of allowances go to consumers and public purposes, and less than 20% to private industry.” and UPDATED exclusive report: Preventing windfalls for polluters but preserving prices “” Waxman-Markey gets it right with its allocations to regulated utilities).

3. Even as we continue to decarbonize the use of fossil energy, we should maximize the production of renewable energy from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and more.

4. Set an ambitious renewable electricity standard (RES) along with longer-term tax incentives for the wind, solar, biomass and other renewable energy.

5. To move this new energy, we need to build a transmission system to allow us to produce renewable energy where we can, and move it to the load centers where it is needed.

Check, check, and check.  Ironically, the Senate energy bill is weaker than the House on the RES, so presumably Dorgan will vote to strengthen it on the Floor.  And yes, the House RES cannot be called “ambitious” anymore, but that’s in large part thanks to the huge push on renewable energy in the stimulus (see “EIA projects wind at 5% of U.S. electricity in 2012, all renewables at 14%, thanks to Obama stimulus! Now can we get a stronger renewable standard?“).

6. To reap the benefits of cleaner energy and reduced dependence on foreign oil, we need to move toward using electricity to fuel our transportation fleet.

That’s already in Waxman-Markey (and was in the stimulus). Love to do more, Senator.

North Dakota and the nation have a lot at stake in this debate. We are a major energy-producing state, with our ability to produce large quantities of oil and our large deposits of coal, which is our country’s most abundant form of energy. We have the greatest wind energy potential of any state, and we have the ability to produce a large quantity of biofuels.

It’s clear we are going to have to use energy differently in the future to protect our planet. And to do that I will support a plan that puts achievable caps on CO2 emissions – if it is done the right way.

If that were his entire op-ed, you’d say he was at least 50-50 for the bill and certainly would be a realistic possibility for voting against a filibuster, like Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

But, here’s what I excised:

… But I don’t support the “cap-and-trade” plan now being debated in Congress.

“Cap-and-trade” is an approach that would have the government set caps on carbon emissions from certain sources, and then establish a market in which allowances for CO2 emissions would be bought and sold on a financial exchange. Supporters call it a “market-based solution.”

I think it is the wrong solution and I don’t support it.

[I support capping carbon emissions. But it has to be done the right way, with targets and timelines that allow us to accomplish our goals without driving the cost of energy for homeowners and businesses out of sight.] The cap-and-trade plan does not meet that test for me.

I know the Wall Street crowd can’t wait to sink their teeth into a new trillion-dollar trading market in which hedge funds and investment banks would trade and speculate on carbon credits and securities. In no time they’ll create derivatives, swaps and more in that new market. In fact, most of the investment banks have already created carbon trading departments. They are ready to go. I’m not.

For those who like the wild price swings in the oil futures market, the unseemly speculation in mortgage-backed securities, or the exotic and risky financial products like credit default swaps that pushed our economy into the ditch, this cap-and-trade plan will be the answer to their prayers.

Just last year, speculators overwhelmed the oil futures market, every day trading 20 to 25 times more oil than was being produced. That speculation drove the price of oil from $60 to $147 a barrel and gasoline to over $4 a gallon. The same speculators forced the price back down and made money in both directions. The American public paid the price for it.

Don’t get me wrong. I like free markets. But given recent history, I have little confidence that large financial markets are free or fair enough to trust them with a new, large cap-and-trade carbon securities market….

But I’m not signing up to create a new financial market to trade carbon securities. In my judgment, it is exactly the wrong way to address this issue.

Somebody needs to ask Dorgan if he is proposing to reduce emissions without using the free market.  It bears repeating that if you do this through non-market means you would have to impose onerous regulations that spell out in detail exactly what level of emissions each major industry can emit in a given year.  It ends up looking a lot like cap-and-trade in terms of the outcome — a shrinking cap —  but it is far more onerous and would have no chance whatsoever of garnering even a small number of votes in Congress.

In fact, Dorgan’s concerns about speculators and market fraud — which Mississippi Governor (and global warming denier/delayer) Haley Barbour has been playing up, along with James Hansen and Robert Shapiro — are ones that the authors of Waxman-Markey were quite aware of when they wrote the bill.

That’s why the bill has many provisions (and realities) that would stop “a financial meltdown from speculators trading frantically in the permits and their derivatives,” as Hansen put it, or someone cornering the market, as Barbour put it.

First off, the permit market is huge.  Even purchasing 2% of the permits in, say, 2015, would probably cost $1 billion.  And speculators would have to purchase several times that to significantly run up the price.

Second, it will be so easy to meet the targets for at least the first decade (see here) that the “real” price of a permit will probably be slightly below the auction price (which has a floor).  So it will be highly unprofitable to buy lots of permits, which would run up the price, in an effort to make money selling those permits sometime in the future.  I can’t imagine a plausible scenario in which this would make economic sense for any entity even if they could get away with it, which they cannot.

Third, the bill requires EPA to promulgate regulations to cover the auction.  As CQ‘s summary of the bill explains:

  • Bidders must disclose all parties sponsoring their bids;
  • Individual bidders would be limited to purchasing up to 5% of allowances sold at any quarterly auction;
  • EPA would have to publish information about winning bidders

So it would be very difficult to do any major purchasing in secret and virtually impossible to acquire a large fraction of the permits.

Fourth, the bill has a whole section devoted to “Carbon Market Assurance.”  As the WRI summary describes it:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is given regulatory authority over allowance and offset markets and allowance derivative markets (Sec. 761, pg. 449). The President is also delegated authority to instruct agencies to take on pieces of market regulation based on existing authority as long as regulations are consistent with this section. The draft makes it a federal crime to commit fraud or manipulate any carbon market. In addition, the regulations facilitate and maintain market oversight and transparency and require market monitoring to prevent fraud, manipulation and excessive speculation.

That section explicitly includes derivatives, with further oversight by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Fifth, the bill has a Strategic Reserve (with tons originally skimmed off from each year’s total target) that an entity can purchase permits from if the price sees a short-term run up of about 60%.  So again the bill will is designed to prevent someone from cornering the market or running up the price.

So these concerns, while potent from a populist perspective, are simply not a reason to oppose this bill if one supports the general goal of a shrinking cap that doesn’t force reductions down at an alarming pace, does mitigate most of the price risk to consumers, does spend many tens of billions of dollars on clean energy development, demonstration, and deployment, and promotes renewables (albeit not enough) and electrifying transportation system.

Clearly Dorgan and his staff haven’t looked closely at the bill or any of the many summaries.  I would note that essentially all of these oversight provisions were in the original March draft “” so they should not be a surprise to anybody.

But it is quite common for Senators not to pay much attention to how the House does things.  Just look at what’s going on with health care reform.

If Dorgan really supports the aim of Waxman-Markey but has problems with one aspect of the approach, well, that is precisely what the legislative process is designed to address.  Perhaps someone from the White House could sit down with him.  At the very least, the Senate leadership should extract a no-filibuster commitment.

16 Responses to When Sen. Dorgan finds out what’s in the climate bill — hint, hint, White House — he might just support it

  1. Charles McKay says:

    Well, I just found out about a few things in the Climate Bill which seem counterproductive to its goals:

    1) The key to realizing wind power potential is the construction of new transmission lines and a “smart gird” to carry electricity from the Great Plains states to urban centers. Originally, the climate bill gave the federal government the power to overcome local delays and speed up construction of those power lines. But East Coast representatives in the House, apparently worried that jobs would migrate to Chicago and other cities closer to the sources of wind power, changed the bill to take away that expediting power anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. Shouldn’t any Climate Bill include expediting the construction of the smart grid?

    2) A recent Goldman Sachs analysis projects that the U.S. Cap & Trade market could generate as much as $400 million per year in trading fees. And yet the Climate Bill includes a provision to provide financial rewards for early participants in the Chicago Climate Exchange, North America’s first trading center for greenhouse gas emissions. If Cap & Trade is going to generate $400 million in fees, what do we need incentives to “early participants” for?

    3) There is a provision in the bill which would severely limit the legal options that local communities now have to challenge and prevent the construction of new coal plants in their area. Why would a climate bill seek to make it easier to build new coal plants?

    It looks like the Senate is going to have to spend a lot of time fixing this bill before it is sent to the President.

  2. SecularAnimist says:

    Sounds to me like Dorgan is basically shilling for the coal industry with a lot of nonsense about “decarbonizing coal” and the rest of his piece is just filler and doubletalk.

  3. gmo says:

    As a North Dakota resident, I have been meaning to contact both Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, the two (D) senators.

    I know, I know – got to get to it. But the last several days have provided some nice info toward that end. First was a response from the ND representative Earl Pomeroy to whom I sent an unhappy email upon finding out he would vote against Waxman-Markey. It was likely just info cut from elsewhere, but the reasoning given was concern about electricity rate increases and job losses particularly related to coal.

    We also got the Dorgan op-ed this weekend where I live. Considering this is North Dakota both Dorgan and Conrad talk a decent game on their websites (under “Energy”) about wanting to address climate change. But unsurprisingly there is plenty of explicit support for fossil fuels, though at least with CCS mentions.

    I appreciate seeing a lot of the legwork now done for addressing the stated concerns Dorgan has. Makes it easier to send a strong, concise message.

    My concern from the Dorgan op-ed and Pomeroy response is that all 3 of the ND congressional delegation really want to go out on a date, but darn if they don’t have to stay home and wash their hair. I mean, Dorgan supports a cap but not cap-and-trade? Cap-and-what then? The two opinions shown in the local paper have basically been the science says we have to do something versus cap-and-tax is a socialist plot for the government to take our money. Maybe I have missed them, I have not heard concerns about the carbon market being gamed by Wall Street. Agreed that the whole op-ed seems quite strange.

    Anyway, thanks for help toward my local congressmen with this legwork done to addressing the stated concerns Dorgan has. At very least Dorgan & Conrad must not go along with a filibuster. I will do what I can.

  4. Rick Covert says:


    I have a Waxman-Markey spoiler alert from you. A Breakthrough Institute piece written by Johanna Peace appeared on commondreams disputing President Obama’s commitment to spend $150 billion on clean energy and research development. It appears here:

    [JR: They are like vampires. I’ve debunked that one — but it doesn’t stop smart people from being duped.]

  5. Joe P. says:

    I’d say there’s room for optimism, and I hope Dorgan isn’t angling for a price ceiling on the allowances. I hope he can be brought on board with just persuasion, but I expect he will need some specific concessions. In his railing against the speculators I didn’t see him call for explicit cost containment on the allowance prices, so this is a more progressive stance than some others have offered.

    Was there ever an oversight hearing in Congress where they explicitly received the Bush DOE report about 20% wind by 2020?

    Anyone looking to lobby him personally should mention that the government’s allowance reserve would work similar to the ND state-owned grain silo. IIRC, it’s come up in North Dakota politics, with the standard GOP line of it being socialism. Since having it lets ND family wheat farmers stand up to oligopoly pricing from railroads and silo operators, it remains a popular state program.

    I also think Dorgan is making the noises about CCS that he is because there’s an enhanced oil recovery CO2 pipeline project into the Bakken formation, in ND.

  6. Jade in SF says:

    ALERT: It seems that Sen. Byron Dorgan thinks that deniers are right in their attempts to kill progressive climate change legislation in the Senate. He’s a Democrat, and shouldn’t be supporting the GOP in their disinformation campaign trying to delay cap and trade. Time for progressives to push back.

    You know what to do–call Sen. Dorgan and tell him to support The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, and further efforts to strengthen the legislation in the committees he’s apart of.

    Sen. Byron Dorgan(D) – (202) 224-2551
    Eight Democratic senators are almost certain to oppose ACES:

    West Virginia – Robert Byrd
    West Virginia – Jay Rockefeller
    Alaska – Mark Begich
    Louisiana – Mary Landrieu
    Montana – Max Baucus
    Montana – Jon Tester
    North Dakota – Kent Conrad
    North Dakota – Byron Dorgan

    These senators all come from states that produce coal, oil, and/or natural gas. We need to let them know that as Joe has been pointing out recently, Natural Gas makes the emissions targets in ACES easy to accomplish.

    [JR: I think that is a useful list of Senators, but I would expect at least half of those to vote for the bill — and we might have a shot at a cloture vote from 1 or 2 more.]

  7. Mike#22 says:

    McKay asks, I answer:

    1) Shouldn’t any Climate Bill include expediting the construction of the smart grid?

    A) Yes, W-M does. Waxman devoted 10 minutes of floor time on the day the bill passed the House in explaining why the Western interconnect would move ahead at this point. Watch the video at CNN. Overall, W-M is a great start to building not just a smart grid, but a super smart and sustainable grid.

    2) A recent Goldman Sachs analysis projects that the U.S. Cap & Trade market could generate as much as $400 million per year in trading fees…If Cap & Trade is going to generate $400 million in fees, what do we need incentives to “early participants” for?”

    A) That is 0.4 billion out of 90 billion, or about 0.5% of the total flow of money. It is called a market. Markets work. Not perfectly, but all the alternatives (so far) are worse.

    3) “There is a provision in the bill which would severely limit the legal options that local communities now have to challenge and prevent the construction of new coal plants in their area. Why would a climate bill seek to make it easier to build new coal plants?”

    A) Um, read the EPA’s analysis of W-M. No new coal plants are forecast. Makes sense whn you realize that existing coal plants get about about 20% of the taxes levied on them back during the first two decades–while a new plant doesn’t get grandfathered. Built in disincentive to build new plants. Plus what W-M is really jumpstarting is efficiencies and renewables. Can coal compete?

  8. Rick says:

    Of course everyone realizes that this bill won’t reduce CO2 much. The powers of the day are just not able to do such a thing. They wouldn’t know how and even if they did, their constituents wouldn’t stand for it.

    So this bill will massage US CO2 a little – maybe.

    no planets are being saved by it though

  9. J S says:

    Joe, as a North Dakotan, I can tell you that Senator Dorgan does understand this issue and I applaud you for seeing the many supportive things Dorgan says. There is more going on here which I’d prefer to discuss offline.

    I attended a climate conference in North Dakota right after the vote on ACES. Pomeroy spoke and explained his vote. I was able to get a transcript of his speech from North Dakota Public Radio that I would be happy to send to you. In the meantime, here is a link to the conference website and some choice quotes from Pomeroy’s speech.

    “We are a nation torn between two energy imperatives
    -dependence on foreign oil; and
    -climate change”

    “there is not an element of science debate, of credible scientific debate.”

    “The science is overwhelming, and the political consensus is, in my opinion, firmly established and not going to go away. So, get ready to deal with it.”

    Interestingly enough, before going on to explain why he voted against the bill, Pomeroy praised ACES extensively.

    “This (ACES bill) is an extraordinary legislative acheivement”

    “I believe a dimension of the speaker’s [Nancy Pelosi] firm conviction is based in faith and in her views of climate stewardship as a devout practicing Catholic.”

    On allowances for hydro and nuclear: “What we [Midwest Dems who voted no] believe, in fact, is that hydro was built 50-60 years ago, nuclear was built in the 60’s. Present leadership in those cooperatives or utilities had nothing to do with it. And, it creates a stage for wealth transfer from the Midwest to the coasts – and we don’t like that. We are going to pay more and they are going to get a windfall. What’s the point of that? It’s a big issue for Midwest legislators.”

    He spent some time lamenting the 2020 target and how the original Obama administration proposal called for 14% reductions by 2020 while W/M had 17% which he thinks is too onerous.

    “The technology that will be required to get that activity [burning coal] into a CO2 capture environment has not substantially been invented yet. And so, representing a place dependent upon coal power – both for the economic impact of the coal industry as well as the rates our consumers pay including little old ladies with electric heat they have on ten months of the year. I’m not going to expose the people of North Dakota to dramatic rate shock next decade because we have a legislative requirement to incorporate technology that no one has invented yet. This is a political creation, this target reduction, and I believe we need more accommodation. If they had wanted to talk to me about accommodations, maybe they could have gotten me.”

    “North Dakota’s got one vote here and I am to represent this state’s economic interests. I’m not to figure out the future of global climate change. (that last sentence was a bit garbled, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said) I am part of a mosaic across the House of Representatives. And the part that I represent is North Dakota. I don’t believe that North Dakota’s interests were adequately accommodated in this bill. And for that reason, I voted against it, even while acknowledging it was an extraordinarily important piece of legislation accomplished under terms that were really extraordinarily difficult. I can’t imagine anything more difficult.”

    “This conference, people coming in from around the world to Bismarck, ND I think is a real metaphor for how much things have changed.”

    “We are all in this together. We do have a responsibility for stewardship of our planet. We gotta share that responsibility right across our nations borders in ways we never have before. A critical element is understanding each other as we proceed along this path.”

  10. James Thomson the fourth says:

    You have to try very hard to like W-M. On one side there are the vested interests that don’t want to do anything about emissions. On the other side are people that really want to see effective action and don’t believe W-M gets close (i’m in the latter camp).

    CP (Joe) is about the only person trying to tread the fine line that separates these two positions. Why is the US struggling and failing to do something that is happening with relative ease in other parts of the world?

    [JR: Uhh, where? Australia? No. Japan? No. Canada? No. China? No. India? Russia? No. Half of Europe? No. A few countries in Europe have serious bragging rights — although they use offsets, too and they — and every reason to be critical of the U.S. But where is this occurring with “relative ease.” Please identify 5 countries where substantially deeper emissions reductions are occurring with relative ease. Hint: Germany doesn’t count.]

  11. James Thomson the fourth says:

    Joe – fair point. Climate legislation has been enacted in the UK and Scotland but I can’t find anywhere else from a quick search. Germany has achieved a lot (down 22.4% between 1990 and 2008) but I’m guessing you are picking up on their 2006 decision to exempt its coal industry from requirements under the E.U. internal emission trading system.

    Even Scotland’s ambitious bill looks like it has been “got at” by the lobbyists, judging by the number of get out clauses to do with assessing economic and other effects of emissions reductions. And the UK’s law currently excludes aviation and shipping so how much is that worth? (Clue – we are still extending airports and building new roards like there’s no tomorrow.)

    In Wiki / Kyoto Treaty it talks about enforcement:

    If the enforcement branch determines that an annex I country is not in compliance with its emissions limitation, then that country is required to make up the difference plus an additional 30%. In addition, that country will be suspended from making transfers under an emissions trading program.[16]

    Clearly most Kyoto ratifiers (i.e. everone except the US) have failed to comply. They have also failed to be punished as stated above. So much for international law.

    [JR: The first 20% reduction off of business as usual is typically quite easy for a country — at least a country that started with a fair amount of coal use (like UK, Germany, and the U.S). That’s why I am confident that the US would achieve most of W-M reductions through domestic emissions reductions. After that, I consider the emissions reductions to be straightforward but they take a lot of effort. Again, I think the overwhelming majority of the 42% reduction W-M requires by 2030 would be met through domestic emissions reductions. As all regular readers know, the 2020 target in particular is inadequate from a scientific perspective, but as I’ve said many times, the Bushies thwarted all action for 10 years and if you start in 2012, you’re simply not going to be able to get a lot deeper — heck, look at what Japan put on the table and they are the home of Kyoto.

    So certain other countries are more than justified in criticizing us. But the inadequacy of W-M from a scientific perspective takes nothing away from the astonishing achievement it would be from a political and clean energy perspective.

    Finally, I’m happy to have you post here … most of the time. My concern is much more about tone than content. Since you tend to post when I’m asleep, it can take a while for me to unmoderate you.]

  12. James Thomson the fourth says:

    Joe, My frustration stems from a cold, hard look at what has been achieved globally to date, which is nothing. In fact it is a lot less than nothing because global emissions continue to rise faster than ever. Sure, a few countries have opportunistically been able to cut back emissions because it was economcally convenient to burn gas rather than coal, and some countries have been able to export their emissions by shifting manufaturing to China – again for economic reasons. But the NET change is a big increase not a reduction.

    My conclusion is that legislation needs to be a lot simpler, more focussed on actual reductions in emissions and applied globally. To be more specific, we should legislate for reductions in fossil fuel extraction because it is so much easier to monitor.

    I’m sorry if you have problems with the tone of my comments on occasion, but they don’t come close to some of the things you have said! Is this sort of tone OK providing the target deserves it?

    “Washington Post, Fred Hiatt turn op-ed page into a “joke” with yet another falsehood-filled piece attacking climate action and clean energy — by GOP quitter-in-chief Sarah “Four Pinocchios” Palin!”

    [JR: I try to reserve a harsh tone for those who are actively (and immorally) trying to spread disinformation and for repeat-offenders and enablers in the media. Yes, I know a some people are unhappy with parts of the W-M bill (as I am) and some even disdain the entire bill, but Waxman and Markey are long-standing environmental champions with a record of accomplishment in the US legislature matched by very few people. If this is the bill they think they could get through, well, that doesn’t free them from criticism, of course — but they ain’t Palin or Hiatt or the deniers. So yes the “target” matters a great deal.]

  13. Florifulgurator says:

    Krugman gives you the thumbs up:

    Sigh. Does it really need a Nobeal laureate to chime in on such straightforward matters?

  14. Cameron Coates says:

    Why must the alternative to cap and trade but excessive regulation? A carbon tax is much simpler and would employ a “market-based” solution. The transparency of this approach is much more effective and lest costly than a cap and trade solution. Your article seems to have forgotten about this possibility.

  15. gmo says:

    J S,

    Thanks for being a more plugged-in North Dakotan than I have been and sharing some of the info. What you described from Pomeroy jibes pretty well with the (newsletter clip-out?) reply I got after criticizing the ACES No vote.

    If all 3 are doing simply viewing there job as watching the “state’s economic interests”, that would be one of my worst worries since it is then quite easy to throw out excuses for inaction. I agree with the case Joe has made here that as flawed as ACES is, this is the time to take the first step on something. If this current effort goes down, I do not see another serious bill happening next year, next Congress… If this ship sinks another may not come along in time to avert a lot of trouble.

    I hope among other points to stress to at least the senators that on this crucial issue it is not enough to sit back and say “they” did not make a bill that takes enough care of ND concerns. Conrad has tried to engage on health care. I want them to prove they understand the seriousness of the issue by at very least getting involved and trying to get the bill more to their liking, making sure concerns like about the carbon market are addressed instead of just at vote time saying no because they think electric rates will go up or coal jobs will be lost.

    It is really depressing to think that we will take no serious action for the foreseeable future because too many people who apparently really support doing something serious do not like the current approach because the action is either too weak or too strong.

  16. Mike S. says:

    Just because Sen. Dorgan criticized the potential for “cap and trade” to be hijacked by financial speculators doesn’t mean that he is opposed to climate action. We have laws against financial speculation, and the largest financial bubbles in history have been in the last 10 years. Maybe Dorgan would prefer something simpler, like Cap and Dividend, with limits on the tradability of the auctioned permits. What’s wrong with that? Maybe it’s OK for the Senate to set aside Waxman and Pelosi’s vision of realpolitik (that had almost everyone holding their noses by the end) and take Dorgan’s critique seriously. Let’s auction 100% and return the revenues to the people, and bypass the lobbyists and financial speculators.

    [JR: And let’s bring back Betamax. There is zero chance of a cap and dividend getting more than a handful of votes in either house. It just massacres to many businesses — plus you still have to solve the major regional equity problem. But more importantly, it doesn’t bypass the financial speculators at all. How precisely do you plan to stop the creation of a futures market in carbon allowances? How precisely do you plan to stop speculation in carbon allowances? Whatever your solution for cap and dividend — just write that into the cap-and-trade bill. Plus, you are kidding yourself if you think that one can write a bill that bypasses the lobbyists — who after all are protected by the first amendment. It isn’t the form of the cap-and-trade bill that empowers lobbyists. It is the power of lobbyists that drives any piece of climate legislation to favor certain groups over others.]