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“If other countries don’t impose a cost on carbon, then we will be at a disadvantage … [and] we would look at considering perhaps duties that would offset that cost,” Mr. Chu testified.

That provoked an immediate counterthreat from Li Gao, a top Chinese trade official, who told the Dow Jones news service that a carbon tariff would be a “disaster” that would lead to a trade war.

Mr. Obama already appears to have precipitated a trade war with Mexico, which announced it is raising tariffs on $2.4 billion of our exports to their country in retaliation for the administration’s latest restrictions on Mexican trucking access to U.S. roads.

“Taken together, these provisions (in the cap-and-trade bill) represent the first shot in what is likely to prove a disastrous carbon trade war,” CEI’s Mr. Murray said.

Meanwhile, if the Johanns amendment survives in the budget resolution, which must be reconciled with the House version, cap-and-trade is all but dead in the Senate. Stay tuned.

Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.