Climate Legislation as Partisan Battleground

There was nothing geographically special about the farmlands surrounding the little Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. It was an accident of history that Gettysburg was the place where Union and Confederate armies met in the summer of 1863.

The metaphor isn’t perfect, but the epic political struggle over health care is similar. If it wasn’t health care, the partisan warriors would have found another field on which to have their battle.

Well, the warriors are not done, and John Kemp has a nice piece of analysis suggesting the dangers of energy and climate legislation becoming the next field of action. California and other Western Climate Initiative states are seeing the first skirmishes:

In California, Meg Whitman, the Republican Party’s likely candidate for governor in this year’s election has indicated she would delay implementation of the state’s own trading scheme for at least a year to study its likely economic impact. Whitman currently has a narrow poll lead over likely Democratic rival Jerry Brown.

Now the New York Times reports independent oil refiners Valero Energy Corp and Tesoro Corp are backing a petition drive organised by the California Jobs Initiative (CJI), which is trying to collect enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot in November suspending the state’s climate change law.

Delving into the roots of the California opposition, Kemp argues that climate legislation is rapidly being reframed into the larger anti-government narrative that threatened to overwhelm the details of health care reform efforts:

Cap-and-trade was originally framed as market-based and business-friendly. The contrast with traditional command-and-control approaches was its main attraction. But it is rapidly being reframed by opponents as another example of big government intrusion into the economy.

The more it becomes embroiled in a wider debate over big government and regulation the more difficult it will be to achieve action at any level in the United States — especially in the current climate, where anti-incumbent sentiment is running high and the Democratic Party looks likely to lose ground in both chambers of Congress as well as in state houses across the country in the forthcoming election cycle.

One Comment

  1. We have the same bizarre stuff going on here, with economic conservatives (joining in with their buddies far further to the right) pushing against the market based solution… to the point that there’s been an Opposition leadership spill along the way, replacing a pro-ETS economic conservative with a guy who actually said “climate change is crap” (and has tried to walk it back without offending his conservative base).

    We even have an Opposition front bencher who wrote a thesis (not too long ago) concluding that a market/trading scheme was the most efficient and effective way to deal with climate change.

    I find their position utterly surreal.

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