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