Cap-and-Trade Dead but Not Gone

It is good news that cap-and-trade legislation passed by the U.S. House will not be taken up by the Senate as announced by Senate leader Harry Reid yesterday. However, it is too early to celebrate the death of this job-killing legislation that would increase the cost of energy for American consumers and businesses. As Mark Twain famously quipped: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Bad ideas coming out of Washington die only to be resurrected in another form.

The Obama administration and many democrats in Congress are committed with a religious zeal to limiting conventional energy production and use regardless of the economic consequences. Cap-and-trade legislation has become a political liability in an election year, but much of intent of the legislation can be implemented through individual legislation and administrative fiat. Examples include:

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  • EPA regulations on CO2 under the Clean Air Act,
  • Proposed low-carbon fuel legislation,
  • EPA regulations classifying coal fly ash as a hazardous material,
  • Alternative energy mandates and subsidies, and
  • Increased CAFE standards.

Not to be outdone by the feds, Gov. Jennifer Granholm has issued an executive order that places a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Michigan. It is a serious mistake to underestimate the power of the ruling class when they are committed to implementing their political ideology — as Americans discovered when health care reform passed despite it not having the support of a majority of the people.