Breathe easier: greenhouse tax has been killed

Freedom New Mexico

After scaling back ambitious plans to cap and effectively tax greenhouse emissions in nearly every industry, Senate Democrats last week conceded they couldn’t get the necessary 60 votes to pass even a bill to regulate only electric utilities.

The failure to impose a cap-and-trade regimen before the August recess is a major loss for the Obama administration, which deemed the bill necessary to fulfill the president’s campaign pledge to heal a “planet in peril.” Unlike health care, financial regulations and massive federal bailouts, there simply weren’t votes enough to push through what would be an extremely costly burden on the energy-using public.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blamed Republicans, not a single one of whom would cross the aisle. But Reid also had defections within his own party as the cost of aggressively restricting greenhouse emissions promised to be a campaign liability for Democrats hoping to save their jobs in November.

We’re pleased to see the death — at least for now — of this massive, unwarranted expansion of federal authority. Reid will continue to pursue a scaled-down bill dealing with the Gulf oil spill and some green initiatives. But for now the threat of massive government intervention in the name of fighting global warming has been beaten back.

Last year, the House passed onerous cap-and-trade legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions on a wide scale. In the Senate, that approach gradually lost momentum, and effectively died in April when the lone Republican supporter, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, abandoned the cause. Subsequently, Democrats pushed a scaled-back version, targeting utilities. Even that couldn’t muster sufficient support.

Support had waned as challenges mounted to the presumption that global warming poses a dire threat, and increasing questions were raised about how much, if at all, man has to do with it. At the same time, politicians began to calculate the effect at the polls of implementing a drastic “solution” — which itself may have had little real impact — to a questionable problem.

The battle isn’t over. There is the threat of a lame-duck Democratic Congress, during November-December, pushing through legislation with the aid of politicians with nothing to lose. And the White House still plans to impose greenhouse gas regulations by administrative fiat through the Environmental Protection Agency. For now, however, America has dodged the climate bullet.