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“Curiouser and curiouser”

July 22, 2010

If you love Alice in Wonderland as much as I do you will recognize the title.  You will also know that the well-loved children’s tale is political satire, a very barbed commentary on the British Parliament of the late 19th century.  That might be why quotes from the tale have been popping into my mind frequently as I have followed the Senate’s efforts to draft climate legislation.  Here is a sample of curiosities.

Senator Lamar Alexander a Republican from the coal state of Tennessee, commenting on utility industry demands that other Clean Air Act programs be rolled back as the price of their support for climate legislation. “You mean to spew more sulfur, nitrogen and mercury, and less carbon?  That’s not my idea of progress.”

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio was reported to have, “stressed earlier this week that manufacturers must have the choice to opt in to a carbon pricing system and that he is working on legislation that would allow them to do that under a utility-only bill.”  Businesses want into a cap and trade system?!  They are probably planning to make money selling allowances.

Edison Electric Institute wants to go back to an economy-wide bill like that Kerry and Lieberman proposed in May.  Why?

Probably because Senator Kerry recognized that it is problematic to give free allowances to just one industry.  Anyone who has raised children understands that problem.

Finally, my personal favorite, a utility industry spokesman suggested that allowances need to be sold so that there would be money to give rebates to consumers.  They must be worried about irate ratepayers.

To summarize, we seem to have gained support from the most unlikely quarters for:

v     An economy-wide bill,

v     That does not give away allowances,

v     But rather sells them and returns the money to consumers

v     And no rollback of EPA authority.

The concepts behind the CLEAR Act are apparently gaining traction.

But who are Teedledum and Tweedledee and who or what is the Cheshire Cat?

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