Did Cap and Trade kill Coakley?4 Comments
Scott Brown, the new Senator from Massachusetts who was elected last night, made the greenhouse gas cap and trade bill a key plank in his campaign. As Democrats in the US try to figure out what happened, a number of people are asking whether the push for a cap and trade bill (which was positioned as a giant tax by Brown) is a strategic mistake by Democrats.
Here’s a short video of Scott Brown talking about the cap and trade bill forwarded to me by Jesse Jenkins.
Here’s another one where Brown focuses on cap and trade as a jobs killer as he tours a brewery.
Here’s the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters for Martha Coakley, which speaks about how Coakley’s election connects to the COP15 event that was happening at the time and how she’s been a strong advocate of environmental regulation. But right now, do people want regulations or jobs?
Clearly it wasn’t just Coakley’s support of cap and trade that doomed her campaign. A lackluster vision, a stubborn refusal to debate Brown, numerous gaffes and the momentum in the country all worked against her candidacy.
But the question Democrats should be asking right now is about their national strategy for climate change. The question is not whether there should be a carbon cap, but what is the best sequence of legislative steps to respond to climate change. As I’ve advocated with my colleagues since co-founding the Apollo Alliance five years ago, innovation, investment and job creation remain the best framework for promoting a robust response to the climate change threat. As the Breakthrough Institutecheap
The carbon cap, while critically important, should not be the key element of the legislation that’s being proposed right now. The carbon cap is a necessary part of the “rules of the game”, but what’s essential is that the US and other countries invest now in lowering the cost of clean energy so that countries can scale up their energy production to meet rising demand. How should this change the Democrats’ strategy? Promote a large job-creating clean energy investment as part of the stimulus. Pass that now. Then move on to passing a carbon cap. With the momentum heading against any climate change bill, it’s critical that we kickstart the innovation required to build a clean energy economy now, even if it takes a little while to get the rules past that will guarantee success.
Here’s an excerpt of recommendations from the Breakthrough Institute’s policy paper “Pathway to a Clean and Prosperous American Energy Economy.”
Create a 21st Century Energy Technology Deployment Fund to invest $30 billion annually to accelerate the deployment of promising clean energy technologies, achieve economies of scale to drive down costs, and harness America’s vast renewable energy reserves. The primary focus of this strategy should be to drive down real production costs by providing increased and consistent demand for early-stage clean energy technologies that accelerates economies of scale, learning curves, and reductions in the real, unsubsidized costs of each technology. Targeted incentives can make clean energy technology profitable and catalyze American businesses and entrepreneurs.”
It’s not time to be despondent, nor is it time to jump off the cliff for one legislative climate change response. It’s time to react to events at hand and seize the clean energy victories we can. In the end it will be financing, infrastructure, and radical innovations in clean energy that will bring prices down. Making fossil fuels expensive through a complicated cap and trade system is one way of incenting change . Investing in clean energy directly is another way. And it’s the right path to pursue right now.