This was originally posted on Grist.org
The N.Y. Times, in an article entitled "Geography is dividing Democrats over energy", makes much of an alleged split between those on the coasts, east and west, vs. those in the middle, as in the Midwest and Plains states. Somehow coal and manufacturing are grouped together, against a concern for global warming:
"There's a bias in our Congress and government against manufacturing, or at least indifference to us, especially on the coasts," said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio. "It's up to those of us in the Midwest to show how important manufacturing is. If we pass a climate bill the wrong way, it will hurt American jobs and the American economy, as more and more production jobs go to places like China, where it's cheaper."
Since many if not most of my posts attempt to explain why manufacturing and green issues are mutually reinforcing instead of at loggerheads, I find this all very troubling. The problem seems to be that a cap-and-trade policy would make coal more expensive, thus make electricity for manufacturing more expensive; in addition, cap-and-trade might make energy-intensive industries, such as steel and chemicals, more expensive as well.
I think the way to square this circle is to pair cap-and-trade with direct governmental investment in helping coal dependent areas turn to green energy. In other words, if cap-and-trade was passed along with funding to build the wind and solar systems needed to replace the coal plants, then nobody would be worse off -- in fact, the Midwest and other manufacturing states would prosper by manufacturing the very wind turbines and solar panels that would be used to replace the coal plants -- as well as any on-site solar and wind that might be possible. But that would require big bucks from the Federal government.
Unless cap-and-trade is accompanied by direct funding for clean energy construction, I'm afraid cap-and-trade will be in big trouble in Congress.