Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead, Bill Richardson says it’s time to try again for a cap-and-trade policy.
The former New Mexico governor, ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy told attendees at a climate gala in Washington, D.C., that now is the time to revive the policy initiative that died a quiet death during the summer of 2010. “We can sit back and say, ‘well, we’ll wait until the next election, wait until the political climate is better.’ You know if we do that, we’re doomed,” Richardson said.
Richardson’s remarks are interesting and perhaps not off point. With the bin Laden box checked off, Obama may have regained the same mojo that empowered him to tackle health care despite major resistance from Republicans for nearly a year. Make no mistake: Another attempt to pass cap-and-trade will come with plenty of resistance from Republicans and Democrats. And with Obama’s approval ratings getting higher — and likely to climb after getting the world’s most wanted man — reviving the cap-and-trade idea may no longer be a fantasy.
For the president, the question is whether to wait until after 2012. If Obama is president in 2013, he would have a resume that includes a health care overhaul that would be about to take full effect, credit card and financial reform packages passed, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” gone, and Osama bin Laden dead. Not to mention that he wouldn’t be worrying about running for office again. That sounds like the perfect environment to finally craft a national energy policy.
Of course, waiting for this exact scenario to develop comes with risk. There is serious uncertainty about how high fuel prices will climb this summer and next. High prices at the pump usually translate into low approval ratings. Also, considering the beating that Obama has been taking since the mid-terms of 2010, it’s hard to imagine a time when more people will be rallying behind the president than right now.
So should Obama act on cap-and-trade or leave it alone? The death of Bin Laden seems to offer a slim window to take such an action, but there are clearly arguments to wait. In the meantime, we know where Bill Richardson stands.