Environmental Capital reports that Obama’s approach to climate change legislation is foundering, because it’s tied to an ambitious social agenda. Which is weird, because Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal isn’t tied to an ambitious social agenda.

Many Democrats are upset that President Obama’s budget earmarks most of the $646 billion in cap-and-trade revenue for generic tax cuts and to help fund other programs, rather than for specific help to cushion the blow of increased climate regulation.

This is a bit tricky to parse, but it helps if you understand that the word “earmark” here is used to mean “the opposite of an earmark.” Congresscritters want the money from cap-and-trade for projects in their own states (green infrastructure, vote-buying, what-have-you), and Obama wants to return most of it to taxpayers.

So where is this “ambitious health and social welfare agenda” stuff coming from? For that, we are referred to Bush-era EPA official and liar G. Tracy Mehan, III. Mehan has penned a fairly boring article in which he runs down the usual pros and cons of various flavors of carbon taxation, and then concludes:

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Basically, the most economically efficient response is similar to the revenue-neutral carbon tax: return as much money as possible to taxpayers or ratepayers to offset the elevated energy costs. This could be done through tax cuts, rebates or other kinds of payments.

The Obama administration has decided not to pursue this more cost-effective response to carbon reduction. It intends to sell carbon allowances and pocket the proceeds to carry out its ambitious social agenda. It views the proposed carbon cap-and-trade program as a means to generate more federal tax revenues rather than simply an environmental program to be implemented in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Here I’m going to use a technical term: this is horse***t. Obama’s budget explicitly returns a minimum of 81 percent of projected carbon revenue to taxpayers.

So an Environmental Capital piece framed as criticism of administration overreach is actually something much more prosaic: a round-up of interest group jockeying in advance of a climate bill. Would it have been so hard to report it that way?

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