Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Obama Giving Up On Cap-and-Trade Approach

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I’m sort of torn on this news.  In light of historical losses in the House and a dysfunctional Senate, President Obama is changing strategies to deal with one-third of his reported primary priorities as President: global warming.  Instead of pursuing a cap-and-trade approach (which passed the House in 2009, when Democrats still held majorities), the President will pursue other solutions in the next two years.  It would be ironic if he decided to really use his powers appointed to him as chief executive.  I know full well the Republican Teabaggers would scream and howl about his arrogance, but remember we didn’t hear a peep out of them back when Bush was using more powers than he Constitutionally held.  What was good for one of the Teabaggers isn’t good for someone else.

President Obama could have used the past two years to establish the range to which executive powers could be applied.  By not doing so, or at least by being more timid than his predecessor, changing how he approaches problems now will be met with scrutiny and alarm that might not otherwise have been the case.  By pushing the envelope in the next two years, on a signature policy topic, however, I think a lot more could be done in the global warming arena.  It is the largest crisis facing this country in terms of negative economic impact, not to mention long-term existential viability.  That is to say, too much time has been wasted pursuing strategies that were doomed to fail from the start.  There is no more time available on this issue if the goal is to maintain the largest parts of our societies and ecosystems.  Global warming therefore presents the perfect opportunity on many fronts for President Obama.  Addressing this crisis vigorously and unapologetically would help redefine his image in the public’s eyes.  The crisis would finally be dealt with as it should have been and President Obama and the Democrats would likely come out of the 2012 elections in much stronger shape than they did the 2010 elections.

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