Photo credit: Señor Codo via Fotopedia/CC BY-SA 3.0
In the weeks since the clean energy and climate bill died unceremoniously in the Senate, there's been much soul-searching in both green and policy circles alike. Some people blame the bill's failure to pass on intransigent Republicans, others a lack of leadership from Obama, and some have pointed their fingers directly at environmentalists. Charles Komanoff, however, is simply relieved. He argues that the failure of the cap and trade bill is good news, because it clears the way for a fresh start with much better policy: Something that's easier for the American people to rally behind, something that doesn't have so many complicated rules and giveaways to polluters. Something closer to a carbon tax, or what's known as a cap and dividend -- that's what you need to pass a climate bill. He explains: In this video hosted by Grit TV, Komanoff explains why he thinks this climate bill failed, and why an even better bill might actually have a better shot at stimulating interest in the public. Arguing the counterpoint is Grist's Dave Roberts, who believes that the failure of the bill had less to do with policy specifics, and more to do with arcane Senate rules and a poor economy.
I personally agree with Roberts here -- I don't think any kind of carbon-curbing policy, even of the exact stripe that Komanoff is advocating for, would have have been able to fare much better at this point in time. But that doesn't mean that the next go round will feature cap and trade at its centerpiece -- if support for climate action continues to grow (as Bill McKibben is predicting it will), and the threat of climate change becomes better understood by the public, we may indeed see better policy then. But that would require a whole lot of effort, and a whole lot of change -- and Roberts is right that it may be years before we see the issue even taken up in Congress again.