The latest in America's bungling attempt to pass some sort of climate change legislation: Lawmakers are apparently considering what's called a "utility-only" cap-and-trade bill. It would work like a normal cap-and-trade policy—carbon emissions are capped and a free market is set up so companies can trade the limited number of pollution permits—but rather than applying to the entire economy, it would apply only to electricity companies.
Here are some links to help you make sense of the news.
First, if you need a refresher on unadulterated, vanilla cap and trade, try Cap and Trade 101 from the Center for American Progress.
If you want to know why people think this idea has momentum right now, it's largely because Rahm Emmanuel mentioned that it would be on the table during an important meeting this Wednesday between Obama and important senators, including Lindsay Graham.
So is it a good idea? Grist's Dave Roberts, who's knowledgeable about this stuff, says yes: "If you're going to single out one sector for cap-and-trade, electricity is the right choice. For one thing, it's the biggest emitter." His post is the best single read on the subject that I've found.
Michael Levi at the Council on Foreign Relations raises some potential problems with the utility-only cap-and-trade approach. Frankly, his post will require you to concentrate a little bit.
And here's the song "Everyone Has Pain" (featuring a young Morgan Freeman) from The Electric Company: