American Cap and Trade: How a Years-Long Environmental Effort Fell Into Political Oblivion



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The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 is the closest that Congress has come to establishing a national carbon market, and it only passed the House of Representatives. Cap and trade, which was successfully implemented once in the bipartisan 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, would have allowed high emitters of carbon to choose their own solutions to the problem of high carbon emissions, leaving room for innovation without mandating it. While reflections on the political climate around the bill and economic analyses of its policies abound, little research exists on the speech of the representatives who passed it, and those who voted against it. Using corpus analysis methods such as collocate evaluation and KWIC, this research analyzes the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Energy and Environment’s discussion of the bill. By separating Republican and Democratic speech, this research narrows down three major ideological frameworks on which the parties disagree: belief in anthropogenic climate change, the impact of climate progress on the economy, and the influence of carbon emissions reductions on America’s status as a leader. These three frameworks serve as major points of contention between the parties and indicate that the time has come to develop new, compelling approaches to discussing carbon emissions solutions.



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