Senate Ponders Where To Send Cap And Trade Revenue

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


With most of Washington’s attention focused on health care reform, it’s easy to forget that Democrats are also working on a cap-and-trade bill to combat climate change. On September 30, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced their version of the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House back in June. But the Kerry-Boxer bill has a big piece missing: it says almost nothing about how pollution permits will be allocated. Grist explains why: “Doling out what is effectively a huge new pot of money is a subject of considerable interest to many senators, and it’s expected to help bring some recalcitrant Democrats on board.”

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee discussed exactly this topic at a hearing on Wednesday. Kate Sheppard will have more on this later in the week, but here were a couple of the less constructive suggestions:

“What a mess! Taking money from people in order to cure the planet that has no impact on people’s standard of living,” exclaimed Republican senator Robert Bennett of Utah. (He may have overlooked the economic dangers posed by Katrina-like disasters, rising sea levels, higher ocean temperatures and acid levels—not to mention increased temperatures and water scarcity in Utah, Bennett’s home state.)

Bennett instead promoted the merits of a carbon charge instead of a cap-and-trade system. But as panelist Dr. Denny Ellerman from the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research pointed out, a carbon tax would present “exactly the same problem of what to do with revenue.”

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) had what you might call a more complicated take. First, he voiced his skepticism of climate change. “In the early ’80s we were going to have an ice age. The science is not perfect,” he said, referring to the widely debunked theory of global cooling. Then, abruptly he shifted to his concerns that China and India are never going to take responsibility for their carbon emissions. “I worry about that because I have 40 grandkids.”

For the sake of Bunning’s progeny, then, let’s hope the Senate makes some headway.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate