Cap and Tirade

The controversial plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions could be the worst thing to happen to Texas. Unless, of course, it’s the best.

Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar.
All for fossil fuels, stand up and holler.

The several thousand oil company employees who disembarked from buses at the Verizon Wireless Theater in downtown Houston came to rally against federal legislation that, as they saw it, threatened their jobs and their industry. They would have been in a considerably more relaxed mood had they known that within six weeks the Obama administration would announce that it was abandoning its efforts to pass a major climate-change initiative this year. That sweltering Tuesday in August, however, the workers and their employers still had plenty to worry about. Some had come from The Woodlands, the headquarters of Anadarko Petroleum, about thirty miles from downtown, to cheer for Big Oil, the home team, and to jeer the American Clean Energy and Security Act—or, as it is informally known, the cap-and-trade bill. The legislation would, depending upon whom you believe, lead America into a new era of green energy or unduly burden American families with increased costs for everything from food to electricity while achieving scant reductions of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming. The rally, which made the pages of the New York Times, featured a high school band, a video starring country singer Trace Adkins, hamburgers and hot dogs, and T-shirts with the slogan “I’ll pass on $4 gas.”

In September a similar, if more somber, event took place in Austin. It featured Governor Rick Perry and representatives of state agencies with a stake in climate-change legislation, as well as panels of experts, and no one in an official capacity had anything good to say about the administration’s proposal. “It could have many names: It could be the ‘pay more to heat your home’ bill,” said Todd Staples, the commissioner of agriculture. “ ‘Pay more for the food you eat’ bill or ‘pay more for the clothes you wear’ bill.” This conference, touted as a climate-change summit, had more doom and gloom than the Houston rally.


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