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Environment

The Waxman-Markey Climate Bill...Tuff Enuff?

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A new draft climate change bill is now ready for House markup starting on Monday. See here. Have fun: It is 932 pages long. There's no doubt the bill would vastly change our energy system, and for the better. Yet as it's the result of a compromise between coal-state and more liberal Dems--and because it had to be politically workable--it's too weak for some environmentalists. The emails and press releases are already flying, with Greenpeace for instance charging that the bill would only reduce U.S. emissions by "4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020." And then there's the issue of emission permit allocations--the bill gives away a large percentage of them to polluters at first. Enviros hate that, too. It's far less than president Obama hoped for, a 100 percent auction of permits. But the question is, are enviros being helpful in attacking a bill that is serious, that is the result of compromise, that definitely accomplishes something unprecedented (capping emissions), and that strengthens over time? Is it not better to get started on this problem this year, than to hold out for a kind of perfection that is not politically achievable? I'm a political pragmatist. So far, no one has convinced me that I should do anything other than to root for Waxman-Markey to pass Congress and eventually become law.

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