image: Aaron Escobar via flickr
While its a great thing that President Obama wants to set a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade program, actually implementing it is likely to prove difficult. In a new piece for Yale Environment 360 Marianne Lavelle examines the difficult road ahead for any US legislation will face as it tries to withstand the gauntlets of lobbyists who would like to either shape to their benefit or derail entirely any cap-and-trade bill. It's a good overview of the subject, though as Lavelle admits, its hard to keep track of all the players:US Chamber of Commerce Scare Mongers
You've got the US Chamber of Commerce, which puts forth the idea that pretty much anything that raises the costs of fuel will translate into job losses and economic hardship, with Americans cooking their breakfast over candles, before walking to work on streets empty of cars.
You Keep On Saying, "Go Slow"
Then you've got people who proclaim to support a price on carbon, such as the CEO of Duke Energy, but then when asked about it how to do insist that we need to go slow to protect consumers in states where the majority of energy comes from coal (or might that be to protect his own company's investments?).
You also have people trying to shape any legislation to make it easier to reap financial gain:
Yet another position is being staked out by the Edison Electric Institute — a power industry group to which Duke also belongs — which argues that free allowances also should go to the so-called "merchant" generators of power, companies that sprung up due to state deregulation and are now responsible for nearly a third of the power consumed in the United States. The merchants don't serve local populations — as old-style utilities do — but sell their power to the highest bidder in the wholesale market. Local utilities would be required by state regulators to pass the value of free allowances to their ratepayers, but unregulated merchant generators could keep any financial windfall for themselves.
The Words Preventing Climate Change and Coal Get Stuck in My Throat
Further down the road is the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which also says it supports climate change legislation. However it offers the caveat (absolutely absurd in my opinion) that any legislation encourage a "robust utilization of coal." As Lavelle points out, this is just another go slow approach, one which might better be described as a stop dead approach.
Lobbying Money Will Flow in Fast
In the end, Lavelle offers up a poignant quote from Tim Wirth of the UN Foundation on the rapid pace of global warming, and the rapid flow of money attempting to influence the debate:
The money that will go into complicating this issue and casting doubt on the issue is going to be increasing as rapidly as the science. There will be more and more interest weighing in on behalf of doing little, or even taking the incremental steps that you'd expect policymakers to take. And it's exceedingly dangerous.
More: An Army of Lobbyists Readies for Battle on the Climate Bill
Global Climate Change, Cap and Trade
28 Senators Protest Obama's Cap and Trade
The Obama Cap and Trade Debate Rages On
Obama's Cap and Trade Would Generate $645 Billion in "Climate Revenue"