With White House Drilling Announcement, Cap-and-Trade Officially Dies

After a long and bumpy past, it’s now clear that cap-and-trade has gone from the gurney to the morgue. The stark admission came this morning during a CNBC interview with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "I think the term 'cap-and-trade' is not in the lexicon anymore," he said, suggesting that more agreeable goals, like slowing pollution and reducing oil imports, were more in the scope of the administration. Instead, the White House signaled it would be moving in a slightly different direction by opening parts of the Virginia coast and northern Alaska to offshore drilling.

There has been plenty of outrage from environmental groups all morning. Environment America director Anna Aurilio said that the announcement “makes no sense,” especially when clean technologies on the horizon will usher in energy security. Ocean advocacy group Oceana was "appalled that the president is unleashing a wholesale assault on the oceans," according to programs director Jackie Savitz. Neither group was particularly relieved that the drilling would be localized, or that pristine areas like Alaska’s Bristol Bay will still be protected from oil rigs.

But despite anger from the environmental left, the move may still prove strategic for Obama. The president is desperate for another win, and especially on something as big as energy. Appeasing conservatives moves the White House closer to the 60-vote threshold in the Senate—the magic number to overcome an imminent filibuster. Senators like Lisa Murkowski and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu have been hesitant to support anything that disadvantages their pro-drilling states. Other Republicans have staunchly opposed anything that mandates a cut in carbon emissions. If Obama's drilling announcement tempts anyone new to the table, he'll add several more hash marks to his tally.

Is President Obama keeping his campaign promises on issues like cap-and-trade? Explore them here. And take a look at the world's worst man-made environmental disasters in photos, here.

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