Obama: Senate Might Drop Carbon Cap

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Did Obama endorse a Plan B approach to passing legislation on climate and energy this year? Well, if he didn’t outright support the idea of moving an energy bill without a cap on carbon pollution, as some moderate Democrats are calling for, he did acknowledge that it might well be what happens in the Senate.

TPM reports that at a town hall meeting in Nashua, N.H. today, Obama said that limits on carbon pollution remain the “most controversial aspects of the energy debate,” and that the Senate may move forward with an energy-only bill this year, rather than a comprehensive bill that also includes a cap on carbon dioxide emissions. Some in Congress, he said, are saying, “let’s do the fun stuff before we do the hard stuff.”

“We may be able to separate these things out, and it’s conceivable that that’s where the Senate ends up,” he said, “but the concept of incentivizing clean energy so that it’s the cheaper more effective kind of energy is one that is proven to work and is actually a market-based approach.”

Now, Obama didn’t endorse the idea of an energy-only bill. But he also didn’t he use the opportunity to make a clear, full-throated affirmation of why the cap is a crucial part of a bill. I would argue that “incentivizing” clean energy and making it cost-competitive necessarily requires a cap, but Obama could have made that a whole lot clearer today. Instead, he seems to be caving to the demands of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats on this issue.

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