A growing partisan divide in Congress stalled almost all new federal climate policy in 2011. The divide frustrated efforts to pass a cap-and-trade carbon permitting system, spawned a battle between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Congress, pushed most substantive climate change policy down to the municipal level and hindered US ability to effectively negotiate an international climate agreement. Amid the federal partisan wrangling, US cities have enacted far-sighted climate policy initiatives, and the growing cost of fossil fuels has stimulated investment in renewable energy, edging the country closer to commercially viable alternatives to fossil fuels. These trends could help provide an alternate route to climate mitigation, even without international treaties or national legislation. But the inevitable shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources would be greatly hastened by federal action to tax carbon dioxide emissions and use the revenue generated to support alternative energy technologies. That action is extremely unlikely to occur unless climate change comes to be seen in the United States as a practical, rather than ideological, issue.
The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent, nonprofit media organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.