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President Backs Away From ‘Cap-And-Trade’ Proposal

November 4, 2010

The controversial “cap-and-trade” emissions exchange program, once hailed by the President as the best method to control greenhouse gases, will now be placed on the legislative back burner as the Obama administration will now seek alternative solutions to the problem.

“Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat,” President Obama said during a White House news conference on Wednesday–just one day after the Republican Party managed to seize control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. “It was a means, not an end”¦ I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”

Under the cap-and-trade system, the federal government would have established a limit on the amount of pollutants that can be emitted by any given company. Businesses would have been required to purchase “carbon credits” which would have given them the right to pollute, but not in excess of the federal cap. Essentially, the polluters were paying a surcharge for the right to pollute, and ideally, the result would have been a decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted nationwide.

The cap-and-trade legislation was originally passed in the House last year, but stalled in the Senate, according to Dina Cappiello of the Associated Press (AP). Tuesday, thirty of the Congressmen who voted in favor of the bill in the House were voted out of office, and as a result, Obama said that it was “doubtful” that the proposal would be able to get the votes needed to pass.

Many Republicans, not to mention energy company officials, have dismissed cap-and-trade as an energy tax in disguise, and even some Democrats have expressed their distaste for the legislation. Newly elected Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a state that relies heavily on the coal industry, “literally shot a hole through legislation labeled ‘cap-and- trade’” in a campaign commercial, Kim Chipman and Simon Lomax of Bloomberg Businessweek reported Thursday.

“An alternative to cap-and-trade legislation offered by lawmakers such as Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, would set a national standard requiring the use of renewable fuel such as solar and wind power,” added Chipman and Lomax. “Senator Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, has said he plans to introduce renewable-energy legislation that would add nuclear and ‘clean-coal’ plants to the sources of alternative energy.”

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