The Post ran an editorial, “Cap and Return: Fight the recession or fight global warming? Congress can do both,” that is as confused as it is well-meaning.
The Post supports strong action now, but they recycle a new inactivist talking point — we need to modify or weaken our climate strategies because of the recession — they seem astonishingly unfamiliar with the policies that are currently being discussed, and they embrace a climate proposal that simply won’t work. Let’s run through it:
… the looming recession will lessen the political will in Washington to pursue policies that would add costs to doing business or take money out of the thin wallets of consumers.
Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have committed to putting a price on carbon-burning fuels such as oil and coal through a cap-and-trade system of declining emissions allowances that would be auctioned off to polluters. We agree with Mr. Obama’s plan to auction 100 percent of the allowances to reach the goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. But how to accomplish this without exacerbating the recession? No problem. Return to the American people every penny of the trillions of dollars expected to be generated by these sales.
Exacerbating the recession? The people who write editorials for major newspapers really ought to know better.
Is it possible that the next president and Congress would agree to and enact a cap-and-trade system that even starts constraining emissions before 2012? No.
Heck, none of the major bills on the table actually lowers emissions from current levels for two decades (see “Dingell and Boucher draft climate bill: Likely no CO2 cut until near 2030” and “Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill update: Probably no U.S. CO2 emissions cut until after 2025“). Just how long is this recession going to last?
And returning ever penny is an equally questionable strategy, but before commenting on it for the umpteenth time, let’s see what else the Post says about it: