by Patrick Appel
Dave Roberts, one of the best environmental writers out there, evaluates the watered down Waxman bill and the green divide on it (with Krugman, Gore, and Obama still supporting it but Greenpeace dissenting):
It comes down to how you see the big picture and the larger forces of history...Those who have turned against the bill think there will be one chance to do this; they cite the Clean Air Act to show how crappy compromises get cemented in place in legislation and become very, very difficult to reopen. They’re worried that if a weak bill is put in place, by the time the country seriously revisits it it could well be too late. It blows the one chance.
The bill’s supporters think history is on their side. They see the most important goals as establishing a long-term declining cap on CO2 (the 2030 and 2050 targets remain strong in W-M), getting a carbon trading system up and running, and above all shifting off the status quo trajectory. They also point out that the U.S. desperately needs something to take to the international climate talks in Copenhagen in December. Only a show of good faith will get the rusty gears of multilateral negotiation turning again, and that process, too, cannot wait. As time passes, they say, climate change will hit harder, increasing political pressure to strengthen the system. States will accelerate their own programs; clean businesses will gain size and lobbying muscle; everyone will get much more serious about the problem and cognizant of the opportunities. This is the beginning of a journey that will only gain, not lose, momentum.
Who’s right? It depends on what time of day you ask me.