In case you didn’t notice that fork stuck in the side of cap and trade, Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn essentially declared it dead once and for all this week.

His story pointed out what has been known for about a year -- that the plan to create a trillion-dollar global derivatives market to reduce carbon emissions is gone and probably will never return as a legitimate proposal in Washington, D.C. While Samuelsohn’s assessment is beyond accurate, what is perhaps more interesting is the documented back-peddling that's been going on outside Washington over the last few years.


Along the east coast of the U.S. there is a nine state cap and trade agreement relating to power plant emissions. The agreement, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), impacts fossil fuel power plants that produce more than 25MW of generating capacity. While the number of states taking part in the agreement has fluxuated between five and ten, it appears its membership is going to be on the decline.

The first sign came from New Jersey when Gov. Chris Christie announced his state would be walking away from RGGI. It took a veto from New Hampshire Governor John Lynch to keep the state’s Republican led legislature from passing a bill that would have removed the state from the RGGI.

In the Midwest, a similar struggle is under way as states appear to be backing off of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. This plan, which includes six states and a Canadian province, calls for emissions to be reduced by 20 percent across almost all sectors of the economy with a few major exceptions, including agriculture. But because of a change of the governorship in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin the agreement has been described by Samuelsohn as, “dead for some time now.”

And in climate conscious California, Samuelsohn points out that Governor Jerry Brown is having to delay his state’s responsibilities in the Western Climate Initiative. So yes, cap and trade is dead inside the Beltway. Outside the beltway it is either dying or at best very ill.

Cap and trade is facing obstacles across the country
Cap and trade may finally be finished in Washington, but it's been dying elsewhere for a while.