Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade - in the Washington Post

Today's Washington Post included an op-ed entitled
Cap and Rage:
the fight over health-care reform could hobble climate-change legislation.

I recently heard John Kerry speak at the National Press Club (for those of you who follow me on Twitter, I tweeted a few times from this event). He made a statement that caught me and some of my fellow climate change battlers off guard. He said he thought climate legislation might get pushed to 2010 due to the fight over health care. This Post op-ed supports that possibility.

The US
must, must, must show leadership in advance of Copenhagen. Time is running out. I am not confident, but hope that I am proved wrong. As the op-ed points out, the Waxman-Markey bill became bloated and overgrown. Personally I support it, because we must take action, and I maintain the hope that it would be improved over time. Having it fail would have been much worse than having it pass. However, the Senate may not find the time and wherewithal to take on the task, and that would be a catastrophe for international negotiations.

The Washington Post suggests dropping the cap and trade provision and instead instituting a simpler carbon tax. A carbon tax would be much simpler (although left to Congress, I'm sure it could be made wicked complex) in practice, but likely much more difficult politically.

Although I have been a long time supporter of market mechanisms as intelligent strategies to encourage innovation in private markets, I would also support a carbon tax (in fact, I'd support both--why not?). In fact, I'll support just about anything that shows the US wants to move forward on seriously addressing climate change.
It's also the sensible thing to do purely from a responsibility standpoint, as pointed out by Jim DiPeso here.

Let's do something--anything--to show that the US understands the serious implications of inaction.

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