Thursday, June 17, 2010

Obama, the BP spill, and carbon prices

The man who pushed through the biggest healthcare reform in American history may be on the verge of pushing through the biggest shift in environmental policy ever.

Word from American political pundits is that Obama’s address to the nation on Tuesday night was all about setting the stage for passing carbon cap and trade legislation. Hard to believe that a speech about an oil spill, a corporate criminal and protecting the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico could signal his intention to push through carbon legislation. I know I watched the Presidential oration live on the tube and naively thought it was about holding British Petroleum to account and throwing government resources at protection of coasts and habitat.

But the folks who sift through the presidential tea leaves of words and meaning have pronounced this the beginning of Obama’s cap and trade assault. After the address, I watched pundits on American network television debate the merits of an unusually weak address from this president. The common thinking seemed to be that he is softening the ground to plant his feet in on cap and trade, a price on carbon, and an aggressive stance on renewables. Following the pattern of health care reform strategy, they see this as his latest legacy crusade: a strong renewable energy policy grounded in an economic context that puts a price on carbon. That would be a legacy I can believe in.

For an excellent article on American carbon policy, check out Carbon Finance’s latest analysis.

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