Voting “no” on Waxman-Markey because it’s too weak by mattsteinglass
June 27, 2009, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Environment

Waxman-Markey passed the House by 7 votes, 219-212. 44 Democrats voted against the bill. Many no doubt did so because they thought the bill did too much to protect the environment. But did any Democrats vote against Waxman-Markey because it doesn’t do enough?

Well, at least one did: Pete DeFazio of Oregon. If you follow the link, you’ll find DeFazio’s extremely cogent argument against cap-and-trade. In particular, he’s strongly opposed to CDM-style carbon “offsets”, where companies get to buy permits to emit carbon from other companies with projects that supposedly reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases. DeFazio thinks it’s liable to massive scamming and that it will eviscerate up to two-thirds of any planned carbon emissions reductions. He likens the trading of emissions credits to the trading of financial derivatives. And he has an alternative plan: cap and don’t trade. Just cap. Plain old cap. It’s the Jim McDermott climate change bill, which DeFazio supports.

I prefer the McDermott regulatory approach because of its certainty.  Under this alternative we will reduce emissions here in the United States of America; we won’t be engaged in buying phony offsets offshore; and we won’t create new exotic financial vehicles like “carbon default swaps” and “carbon tranches.”

It’s an honorable position. Unfortunately it has absolutely no chance of passing. It’s worth noting that Jim McDermott himself voted for Waxman-Markey. But we need people like DeFazio out there, because the next step, if Waxman-Markey passes the Senate, will be to come back next year or the year after, and make it tougher.

Add.: I should say that I don’t agree with DeFazio — I think CDM carbon offsets are a good thing, I don’t agree that scamming is as widespread as claimed, and I think a lot of the problems can be resolved by setting a percentage limit to the amount of carbon reduction that can be derived from offsets. But DeFazio’s opposition is responsible in that he has an alternative proposal and he’s genuinely seeking a better system for carbon emissions reductions. There are a lot of people out there who just use skepticism on the effectiveness of cap-and-trade as an excuse to throw up their hands and do nothing, which is an approach that makes the folks at Acme Coal-Fired Electric Power Plant Inc. very happy.


3 Comments so far
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Thanks So Much for your comprehensible writing. Yours is the only political site that I can stick with. My mind is more artsy-circusy and it is easy for me to get lost in political intellectualization.

I clicked Peter DeFazio’s link and was delighted to see you are kindred spirits, communicationally speaking. I’m in too much of a rush this morning to read it all, but I will return to his site later this evening. It’s wonderful to know there are people like him out there.

Have a Great One!

Comment by Forrester McLeod

“which is an approach that makes the folks at Acme Coal-Fired Electric Power Plant Inc. very happy.

Funny isn’t it .. these evil folks who make everything you currently do (including posting on this site) possible.

Comment by warmi

Great blog. Yes, I came through Andrew’s link (You’re famous, put the post back!) Another person I have a deep respect for, James Hansen, is also opposed to the cap and trade bill, also for pretty good reasons. Kolbert at the New Yorker has written a great profile of him, but like you favours a more pragmatic approach:
I’m actually with Hansen on this one, but ultimately I guess it doesn’t really matter. This’ll be another of those issues that simply won’t be done in time since there just isn’t the political stomach. It’s hard to blame Obama, but that doesn’t make it any less sad. Cap and trade here in Europe does not seem to have been a great success. I’m completely mystified why a straight carbon tax isn’t being seriously proposed, but then again, a gas tax is even more of a no-brainer.

Comment by Phil

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