Cap and Trade: Is Obama Skirting the Issue?

Jeanne Sager

barack obamaHigh hopes for a clear cap and trade plan from President Obama were dashed last night in a speech that's garnered the president nothing but complaints -- from the right and the left.

Obama's nationally televised speech about the oil spill should have been a chance for a president who has been making big promises to curb American dependence on fossil fuels since his campaign days to lay out some enthusiastic energy reforms.

His prime time speech, however, seemed to skirt the issue -- and no one is happy.

It's no surprise when Sarah Palin comes out no holds barred on the president, but the likes of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein were venting in the press today, and the more liberal media had guns blazing.

The problem?

The president praised the American Clean Energy and Security Act -- which Feinstein said won't fix the leak and which prompted Palin to call the president a dreamer -- that's been passed by the House but otherwise laid out no plan for change. 

He never used the words "cap and trade," a benchmark of the climate change bill also known as the Waxman-Markey comprehensive energy bill. Essentially, cap and trade means the government would set a limit on the amount of carbon that can be released into the atmosphere. But Obama didn't call for a carbon cap last night.

And he certainly didn't speak of carbon pricing, a Democratic plan that's been seen as a sticking point as the energy bill makes its way through the Senate.

Democrats in particular have hoped that the horror of the oil spill would provide the impetus to finally make movement on energy reform.

It's proven a rallying point for grassroots efforts fighting for the federal government to approve the FRAC Act, which would provide more oversight over natural gas drilling in more than a dozen states -- successfully undoing the Halliburton Loophole created by Dick Cheney. 

Republicans wanted details too -- details about the oil spill, something definitive. They didn't get those either.

The question for Obama: if not now, when? Are we trading the horrors of the Gulf for more down the road with too much compromise?


Image via jurvetson/Flickr

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