During the last campaign you didn’t hear President Obama talking much about climate change, or carbon taxes, or unleashing his regulators on the American economy. But now that he’s feeling unleashed with his first term behind him expect his regulators and bureaucrats to get even worse. He won’t be trying to ram another cap and trade bill through Congress, seeing that they couldn’t pass it even when they had majorities in both houses. Instead he’s going to do it all through fiat and regulation.
In other words, with the election over, all pretense is gone. Democrats won’t waste political capital on a doomed cap-and-trade bill. Yet they’ll get their carbon program all the same, by deputizing the EPA to impose sweeping new rules and using their Senate majority to block any GOP effort to check the agency’s power grab. The further upside? Brute regulation is not only certain and efficient, it allows vulnerable Democrats to foist any blame on a lame-duck administration.
Mrs. Boxer has spent years on climate, and she wouldn’t be surrendering her legislative ambitions without clear assurances the White House has her covered. Her words were a signal that the Obama EPA is about to re-energize the regulatory machine that it put on ice during the election. Republicans who hoped Lisa Jackson’s resignation signaled a more humble EPA approach should instead prepare for an agency with a new and turbocharged mission.
Boxer also suggested that they will be getting to work soon on a new carbon tax. Since the stringent CAFE standards for cars has reduced the consumption of gasoline, they need to make up the lost revenue from the gas tax. So they’ll scrap that and replace it with a carbon tax. Using his customary bully tactics, Obama could enlist the help of the big oil and gas companies to push it through.
Consider what the mighty oil-and-gas lobby might be co-opted to do—either out of gratitude for the president’s backing or fear that he might turn on it. Consider how the political environment might change if the industry threw its weight behind a carbon tax or the EPA climate scheme. Consider that this might prove an easy call, given that a tax would be borne by its customers, while EPA regs will mostly crush coal. Consider that numerous Big Oil chieftains have already endorsed such a carbon levy. And who says Mr. Obama has to decide Keystone XL or anything else soon? He could hold out, to see what he can extract in return.
Read the whole thing, and hold on to your wallet.