Administration Signals New Stance on Emissions Trading

April 09, 2009

The Obama administration signaled yesterday that it’s willing to postpone auctioning off 100% of emissions allowances under a cap-and-trade system. This potential change is likely to be welcomed by some polluters. White House science adviser John P. Holdren is now in the precarious position of trying to balance political realities with the scientific urgency that we must address climate change. “The idea, obviously, is to end up with a bill that reflects both the thinking of Congress and the administration, a bill that the president can sign,” Holdren said. “Whether you get to start with that or get there over a period of time is something that’s being discussed.” What Dr. Holdren seems to be saying here is that the administration wants to live up to campaign promises to aggressively fight climate change and create green jobs, but actually implementing enforceable policy is going to be hard to get by Congress. The Waxman-Markey bill has gotten this year’s discussions started on the Hill, but a lot can change between when a bill is drafted and when it is on the President’s desk. Though many of us understand political realities and the art of compromise, climate change is too big of an issue with consequences too large to continue to let delays affect real action. The time to work out the finer details of a cap-and-trade was decades ago – the time for action is now. As Dr. Holdren has said, “let’s put on the brakes…” Image Courtesy of