The Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are looking to destroy any chance for a cap-and-trade measure to reach the final text of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, as it heads to markup next Monday. Led by Rep. Joe Barton, a denier of climate change who believes reducing carbon emissions would be like "living in Nigeria," the minority gallery of Republicans are refusing to endorse anything resembling cap-and-trade.

"We're not going to try to kill the bill," Barton told reporters yesterday. But only before he declared: "Cap-and-trade is dead. ... I don't think they can get it out of committee."

Committee Chair Rep. Henry Waxman technically doesn't need the Republican votes to get it out of committee, which Barton knows. So as punishment, Barton threatened to have Waxman read out every word of the 650-plus-page bill to Congress if it does advance committee.

As a smokescreen, Republican Rep. Bob Inglis has submitted a proposal for a carbon tax, which would price carbon at $15 a ton next year, escalating to $100 a ton by 2040. The proposal would soften the blow to consumers by lowering payroll taxes. The proposal would also place a carbon tax on imported goods.

This is a bizarre move from a Republican (one not on the House Energy and Commerce Committee) since it's been the Republicans who've gone far out of their way to mar the Waxman-Markey climate bill as a "cap and tax" bill. Scaring voters into believing cap-and-trade will tax the daylights out of them has been Republicans modus operandi all along. So, the introduction of a proposal that explicitly taxes citizens proves that Republicans are not terribly interested in providing sound alternatives. Rather, they are interested in doing exactly what Barton says they don't want to do: Kill the bill.

-- Brentin Mock

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