Cap and trade may be dead, but Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry recently told an audience he intends to push legislation in the 112th Congress that will have a similar effect on the nation’s carbon emissions.
Kerry made his comments before a Chinese delegation, led by former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, while speaking at the liberal Center for American Progress earlier this month.
“In this next Congress, we will have a major debate over energy policy in the United States,” Kerry said. “We will, even though we may not have a cap and trade mechanism,…have very significant measures introduced that will move us toward energy efficiency.”
The senator hopes to press for the conversion of the nation’s trucks to natural gas, the inclusion of green building standards in construction codes, and a nationwide renewable energy standard, among other ideas.
“I think even though we may not get [cap and trade], we can get in the next 10 years an almost equivalent reduction of emissions as if we had put that trading system in place, provided we do the right things with this legislation,” Kerry said.
According to Kerry, carbon-trading compacts among 23 states have already placed approximately half of the nation’s economy under a cap and trade system, even in the absence of congressional action.
One of Kerry’s key opponents on cap and trade, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, dismissed his comments as political posturing.
“He’s running out of things to say,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe believes Kerry will likely be unable to achieve his goals due to the Democrats’ slim three-seat Senate majority in the 112th Congress and the likely discomfort from approximately a dozen Democratic senators who are considered vulnerable in their 2012 re-election efforts.
Conservative activists worry Kerry’s suggested energy policies could have a negative economic impact.
“The types of policies Sen. Kerry is proposing would further hamstring our already stagnant economy. A renewable electricity standard requires manufacturers, consumers and American families to use less efficient, more expensive sources of energy,” said Chris Pandoni, federal affairs manager with Americans for Tax Reform. “Forcing consumers to retrofit their cars and buildings is a cost borne by the American people. These policies would suck necessary capital out of our economy in exchange for marginal reductions in CO2.”