Skip to content

Articles by Peter Barnes

Featured Article

The Senate is tied in knots on climate legislation. In President Obama’s view, putting an economy-wide price on carbon is the most effective way to stimulate clean energy invest­ment and jobs. Most Democrats — though not enough — agree. Roughly half a dozen Republicans, given some political cover, might go along, but the party’s leadership opposes a “national energy tax.” Sixty filibuster-proof votes are therefore not in sight. And after November, when Democrats are expected to lose seats, the prospects look even grimmer. What is to be done?

The conventional wisdom is to court Senatorial votes by giving handouts and exemptions to polluting industries. This has been the strategy pursued by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), and “pragmatic” greens until now. It hasn’t worked and isn’t likely to. The com­plex­ities are too great, and throwing people’s money at giant energy compa­nies isn’t a popular idea these days.

There is, however, another way forward. It ... Read more

All Articles

  • Why Cantwell-Collins is best — and how it just might win

    As U.S. climate legislation creeps forward, Senators now have two frameworks to choose from.  One is from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); the other is from Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).  Both begin with descending carbon caps that, along with supplementary policies, promise to reduce carbon […]

  • Why two climate bills are better than one

    As this is written, two House Committees — Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means — are considering climate legislation.  Both are following similar timetables, and hope to report bills by June.   In the case of Energy and Commerce, chairman Henry Waxman has released a 648-page discussion draft.  The draft creates a large and […]

  • Beware utilities seeking free pollution permits

    America’s electric utilities (PDF) are waging a no-holds-barred campaign to get 40% of carbon emission permits allocated free to local distribution companies and merchant coal generators. They argue that free allocation will protect consumers better than auctions and cash back. Just give us free permits, they say, and we’ll pass through the savings to our […]

  • How Obama can revive the economy and heal the planet

    A few days before the election, Barack Obama told Time‘s Joe Klein: Finding the new driver of our economy is going to be critical. There’s no better driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy … That’s going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office. That’s […]