Cap and trade legislation stalls in the Senate

A cap and trade bill would set limits on carbon emissions.
A cap and trade bill would set limits on carbon emissions.

Events last week prompted us to move the meter on one of President Obama's top promises. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama said he would create a cap and trade system with goals to reduce global warming.

Don't know what cap and trade is? The idea is that the government sets a limit on how much carbon different companies, such as electric utilities or manufacturers, can emit -- that's the cap. The government then issues permits for emissions to companies and allows them to buy and sell the permits as needed so they can conduct business -- that's the trade. If the policy works as planned, overall emissions decline, companies determine for themselves the best way to lower emissions, and the free market rewards those who lower emissions most effectively.

The House of Representatives passed a cap and trade bill a little over a year ago, but Democratic leaders in the Senate conceded last week that they didn't have the votes to move the bill forward. (Read more about the Senate developments in our full update.) So we're moving the Obameter to Stalled.

The cap-and-trade promise is one of the 25 promises we've designated as being Obama's most significant. The current tally of the Top 25 stands at 12 In the Works; 5 Promise Kept; 4 Compromise; 3 Stalled and 1 Promise Broken.