Originally published on the Wonk Room.
On Hardball yesterday, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) worried that a cap-and-trade system to prevent catastrophic global warming and drive green economic development might “suck money” and jobs away from coal-intensive states:
Cap and trade, you’ll probably need 60 votes because it affects so many states economically that if you don’t do it in the right kind of way, you’re taking money from carbon intensive states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and redistributing it to California, New York. That’s just a very hard sell to our people at a time when they’re hurting. And you also run the risk of taking jobs away and not solving global warming.
Sen. Bayh appears to be listening too much to global warming deniers like Rep. Joe Barton, who argued last week that “if you’re trying to cap carbon, which is one of the most ubiquitous elements in the world, it’s going to put a price on it and the price is going to go up while the jobs are going to go down.” Barton warned that “the cost of energy already has a bearing on whether we manufacture or create in the United States or in China or Mexico or Brazil.”
On March 9, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal claimed that cap and trade “takes from Miami, Ohio, and gives to Miami, Florida“:
But the greatest inequities are geographic and would be imposed on the parts of the U.S. that rely most on manufacturing or fossil fuels — particularly coal, which generates most power in the Midwest, Southern and Plains states. It’s no coincidence that the liberals most invested in cap and trade — Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, Ed Markey — come from California or the Northeast.
It’s certainly Sen. Bayh’s prerogative to think that the most important questions to ask about cap and trade legislation are those promoted by fossil-fueled right-wing global warming deniers, even though their policies have led to the decimation of manufacturing jobs in “Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.” Bayh’s agenda should instead include asking questions like these:
• If we don’t act, will it be China, India, or Germany that will develop next-generation technologies and the economic prosperity that comes with them?
• How fast and strong must cap and trade legislation be to minimize the damages of global warming-fueled floods, heatwaves, disease, droughts, and hurricanes?
• How can we design legislation to prevent job losses from wildly veering coal and oil prices?
• How can we ensure that climate legislation builds new industries in renewable energy and energy efficiency for manufacturing-heavy states like mine?
• What must we do to mitigate the looming national security crises of unprecedented droughts, sea level rise, floods, and typhoons in developing countries even as fossil fuels grow scarcer and more expensive?
• How many jobs will be lost if our planet is no longer habitable in a few generations?
The problem with cap and trade and global warming, Chris, is, we can do it but if you don’t do it right, you run the risk of sending jobs from our country, like your home state of Pennsylvania, and mine of Indiana, to other countries with lower emission standards. So the irony would be we’d lose jobs and not help with global warming. You can do that, but you have to do it in the right way. And you’re probably going to need Democrats from states that are going to be adversely affected if it’s not done in the right way. So, a little less likely on that one, although I think we can still get it done.
Cap and trade, you’ll probably need 60 votes because it affects so many states economically that if you don’t do it in the right kind of way, you’re taking money from carbon intensive states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and redistributing it to California, New York. That’s just a very hard sell to our people at a time when they’re hurting. And you also run the risk of taking jobs away and not solving global warming. … Cap and trade, you probably need to get to 60 there because you’ve got to handle it in a way that will save jobs, actually solve global warming and not suck money out of more carbon intensive states and redistribute to other less carbon intensive states. Less likely to use reconciliation on that.