Cap and trade may be effectively dead in the Senate, but environmental groups are upping the pressure on the Senate to keep some sort of price on carbon in the draft legislation expected to be released by Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman this week. "The challenges facing the nation today are far too serious and too urgent for half-measures or steps backward," argue 14 groups in a letter sent to senators late last week.
The Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Blue Green Alliance, and the National Wildlife Federation are among the signatories. And the green groups do have some support in Washington; Lindsey Graham has indicated that a "half-assed" measure that doesn't include a carbon price won’t be sufficient, and Barack Obama has echoed this point as well.
Some lawmakers have been pushing for the Senate to ditch a specific measure to tackle carbon emissions and instead pursue an energy-only bill that won’t do much to curb pollution. The letter argues that the energy-only route would mean the Senate would "forgo over 1 million potential jobs, fail to reduce our oil dependency, pose serious risks to the environment, and potentially increase carbon pollution."
Right now, no-one knows what mechanism the forthcoming Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill will adopt to price carbon. But so far at least, the senators are indicating that it won't be the energy-only approach.