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Cap and trade's ghost haunts an Illinois congresswoman

November 18, 2010 - Mike Maneval
In response to the deficit-reduction recommendations foreshadowed by two members, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and the Clinton administration's Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a third member, Jan Schakowsky, has released several counter-proposals. Among other recommendations the website Talking Points Memo reports Schakowsky, a Democratic member of the U.S. House representing the northern suburbs of Chicago makes is adaptation of "cap and trade." While Schakowsky may be trying to resurrect a policy that limits carbon emission levels while establishing an exchange market where companies beneath the cap can capitalize by selling the difference to other businesses, cap and trade will stay buried.

As a policy, it remains questionable whether the United States pursuing carbon emissions reduction while other nations, including China and India ramp up their consumption of coal and oil would reduce trends by any more than a marginal shift. And the cap and trade bills up in Congress which failed to fully pass failed to address this issue. What is certain is that cap and trade would impose complex and costly transactions - Schakowsky's efforts to connect cap and trade to deficit reduction hinge on the federal government collecting $140 billion from heavy industries - on the economy.

And these shortcomings as policy contributed to cap and trade's failure to pass in political reality when the Democrats - who considered carbon emissions reduction a greater priority - controlled both houses of congress. The proposal spent a year having its death routinely predicted - by the New York Times and Reason magazine in March, by environmental activist website grist.org in August, and as Schakowsky planned to unveil her recommendations these past couple weeks, by BusinessWeek, Politico.com, npr.com, the Washington Post and according to the Christian Science Monitor, The Democrats' leader in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada. Cap and trade is off the table for two years at least, and that's one of the best things that can be said of the coming Republican majority.

 
 

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