Where do climate activists go from here? Brad Plumer says:
Here's a quick sketch of how environmental policy will get made for the next two years. Congress won't pass any new laws. The EPA will try to use the authority it already has to mop up pollution from coal plants, factories, and vehicles (and the agency has a fair bit of existing authority to do so). Industry groups, Republicans, and more than a few Democrats will moan about the costs. And the Obama administration will then have to decide just how much confrontation it can really stomach. Any bets on how this will all play out?My emphasis; see also Kevin Drum's reaction.
Their concern is centered on EPA, but I want to question the premise, that new law is impossible. I don't think that's necessarily correct. After all, the Democratic climate/energy bill in 2009-2010 is a pretty good comp for the Democratic health care initiative in 1993-1994 -- indeed, climate/energy came a lot closer to the president's desk this year than health care did back then. And certainly comprehensive reform was dead after the 1994 landslide until Democrats won back unified control in 2008. But only three years later, Bill Clinton signed the S-CHIP program into law. Moreover, once passed, S-CHIP expansion became a winning electoral issue for Democrats (well, at least everyone acted as if it was a winner for Democrats; it probably didn't actually move votes, but that's not always the important thing).
This suggests to me that it's in fact quite possible that a bill could be possible. Sooner or later there's going to be another issue that Republicans want enough to cut a policy deal, and environmentalists, it seems to me, are well-positioned within the Democratic Party to claim dibs on a legislative opportunity.
However, I know next to nothing about the wonkish side environmental policy, so my question is: what's the climate S-CHIP?
And if there isn't one, yet, then it sure seems to me that climate issue entrepreneurs should start preparing one. Yes, EPA is an alternate route, and yes, a lot of energy is probably going to be going into defeating GOP plans to cut off EPA or curtail current regulations. But there's probably some opportunity to go on the offense as well in Congress, and climate activists should be ready for it.