The climate change bill is, like most Federal legislation, an amalgam of good and lousy policy. For the most part, it’s
a decent attempt, except for the part where we are supposed to prompt consumers to save energy without raising their energy costs appreciably.
However, there are protections for low-income energy users. Double however, from the limited research on current usage of lifeline pricing mechanisms, it looks like only a fraction of the households eligible for coupons based on income actually use them. Given how little we are willing to raise costs, this perhaps shouldn’t surprise me. In climate change policy, we should get a lot more aggressive here and suck up a carbon tax and provide lifeline options–and keep our distributional focus on the fact that impoverished Americans, while we want to protect them, have obligations as well to the much more dangerously impoverished and imperiled groups internationally. People need to be sent a price signal, even if that price signal is discounted, to help them understand the costs of their choices.