Monday, November 9, 2009

Is cap-and-trade compromise inevitable?

Soon after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Kerry-Boxer bill, one of my co-workers asked me by e-mail how the American Petroleum Institute possibly could have reacted as it did. API wasn’t alone, however, in suggesting that the stage now could be set for climate change compromise.

“In some respects, today’s action is more the end of the beginning than the beginning of the end,” Scott H. Segal, co-head of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP’s government relations and strategic communications practices in Washington, said on Nov. 6. “There is still a lot of hard work to do before climate change legislation can pass into law. The final work product of the Congress will need to address cost containment in a predictable and transparent way.”

Concept Capital’s Washington Research Group, in a Nov. 9 bulletin, said that the bill which the Senate committee approved last week despite Republican members staying away from the markup “is unlikely to garner 60 votes in the Senate as-is.” The focus shifts now to five other committees with jurisdiction as well as Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Lindsay O. Graham (R-SC), it added.

Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the Environment and Public Works Committee’s chairwoman, also said following the vote that work now falls to others. Those almost certainly will include Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who cast the single vote by an Environment and Public Works Committee Democrat against the Kerry-Boxer bill.

All this assumes that Congress is going to pass a climate change bill with cap-and-trade this session, an idea which apparently is embraced more readily inside than outside the Capital Beltway (especially judging by e-mail messages my editors and I have received from OGJ readers). That, in itself, is not necessarily a done deal.


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