Last of An Endangered Species Spotted on Capitol Hill: A Practical Senator

Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) is reporting this morning that Senator Chris Coons is trying to persuade Democrats that they should agree to limit EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases in return for GOP support for a carbon tax.  As regular readers will know, I’ve supported for years the idea of a grand bargain such as Senator Coons is now proposing.

I have never understood environmentalists’ opposition to such a deal.  I’ve always resisted even describing this kind of deal as a trade-off, because I don’t think that environmentalists are giving up anything meaningful.  The CPP was always at best clunky and inefficient and at worst very clunky and very inefficient.

In any case, why is separate regulation of greenhouse gases necessary with a carbon tax in place?  More importantly, we currently have neither a carbon tax nor meaningful carbon regulation.  If a carbon tax never happens, then such a position just trades hypothetical regulation for a hypothetical tax.  If a miracle occurs and Coons can get GOP support and a carbon tax does eventually get passed, then the deal looks even better.  Then, environmentalists will have traded hypothetical carbon regulation for a real carbon tax.

Seems like a good deal to me.

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