Yale 360, an online e-digest published by the Yale School of Foresty and Environmental Studies, has an interesting piece today canvassing the different views of environmentalists regarding the The American Clean Energy and Security Act, more commonly called the Waxman-Markey Bill. The piece’s title – “The Waxman-Markey Bill: A Good Start or a Non-Starter?” – provides a good overview of the debate (and, indeed, the general debate around almost all climate change policies). Most of the comments conclude that, since the bill is the “only game in town” (as Joe Romm puts it), environmentalists have little choice but to support it and work to make it better. A few comments, though, highlight the serious compromises in the bill, which include stripping EPA of its authority to regulate coal plant emissions under the Clean Air Act, and suggest the policies replacing the Clean Air Act will ultimately take us several steps back.
The different viewpoints could provide a good baseline for a classroom discussion of U.S. climate change policies. Is it better to support a comprehensive climate change bill and hope it improves over time, or should environmentalists hold out for something better? What can they realistically expect this Congress to pass?