This week the 100 members of the U.S. Senate, their staffs and legions of lobbyists swing into action on the Waxman-Markey bill. Not since the stimulus bill promised a cash payment to millions of Americans has there been a proposed law with such far-reaching ramifications. Energy supply. Energy prices, including gasoline. More use of solar, wind and alternative energy...or not. Not only does the current bill contain hundreds of pages, its effects would sweep across much of American life and economic activity.
The coal industry fears doom. Yet, some see great hope for coal in the cap-and-trade (CAT)system contained in the version of Waxman-Markey that passed the House. Some utilities see CAT as better than some of the possible alternatives, maybe even better than global warming and the loss of much of Florida. I'd opt to cut Florida loose, but then I'm not a golfer...
No gurantee CAT will survive the Senate machinations.
Higher gasoline prices, warn critics. Good idea, say those who dream of an America unshackled from the tyranny of the private auto. For the vast majority of Americans who've never been to a country with real public transit and trains, the disappearance of private cars is unthinkable, un-American.
Big agribusiness has much more clout in the Senate than in the House. Think of all those un-populated farm states (Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma) that each have two Senators like New York and California. And agribusiness seems confident they will head this one off at the pass, or rather non-pass, in the Senate.
President Obama is expected to sign anything that can be pushed through Congress.