I’m not sure that entirely agree with Jenkins’ assessment of cap-and-trade’s merits, but he is correct that policymakers and pundits must consider whether or not a wholly new policy strategy is in order. Here’s an idea: the team and The Breakthrough Institute has repeatedly clashed with the team at The Center for American Progressive—the former favoring a direct public investment in clean-energy technology deployment and innovation, the latter favoring a price on carbon. These organizations are great candidates to help journalists read the ashes of climate legislation, since the total failure of that legislation gives neither outfit what it wants. With the weak bill that the Senate now intends to pursue threatening to render their often-vitriolic debate about clean-tech R&D versus cap-and-trade moot, it would be interesting for reporters to ask those two now if they can find common ground toward a new policy path.

After all, if two organizations that both profess a deep concern for the environment cannot resolve their differences, what chance is their that progressive Democrats, Blue-Dog Democrats, and Republicans will ever resolve theirs? That is the kind of question the public needs to hear—and the kind more journalists should be asking.

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.