This Week’s Climate Legislation Forecast

Based on the current pace of developments, weekly updates on climate change legislation seem to be about the right frequency. This week’s forecast is bullish on more free allowances.

The news this week has centered on the delay in scheduling a mark-up on the Waxman Markey bill in the house. It has been widely reported that the mark-up has been delayed because the sponsors don’t yet have enough votes to pass the bill in committee. I wouldn’t read too much into the difficulty at this point. It doesn’t mean that a bill won’t get out of committee or won’t get passed. It just means that these are difficult issues, which we already knew. As Senator Reid said: “Health care is easier than this global warming stuff.” Now that’s a quote likely to chill an environmentalist’s heart.

In terms of getting a sense where the substantive terms of the bill are headed, I thought that the most revealing quote was from Representative Gene Green (D-Texas), who apparently told reporters that the mark-up has to wait for another hearing, and that that hearing should take place after the bill’s sponsors fill in the blanks on how allowances will be allocated. This remains the $64,000 question – or perhaps it’s more like the $64,000,000,000 question (that’s a lot of zeros to type). 

We previously reported that the administration has pretty much acknowledged that some allowances would be allocated for free, at least initially, and it is looking more and more as though that will be the case. As each day passes, my prediction regarding the number of allowances that will be allocated for free to existing generators increases.  

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