All Americans should be aware of what’s happening in Washington in this critically important area that affects every one of us. Earlier this week, 48 Senators, including three Democrats and all but two Senate Republicans voted to defeat a bill that would have ended tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies.
This week the US Senate has the chance to take a big step forward for the climate, even though it will not be voting on any bill directly related to climate change. If this seems paradoxical, it isn’t really. This Wednesday may be the Senate’s best chance to fix the filibuster—a procedural tool that over the last two years was used by conservatives to prevent climate change
Ample blame exists for the demise of climate legislation in the U.S. Senate, from President Obama’s lack of political courage, to the environmental community’s overly ambitious strategy, to Republican intransigence. A way forward exists, however, to build on the rubble of the Senate’s failure to cap carbon emissions.
(Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will unveil as early as Monday a slimmed-down energy bill seeking to make offshore drilling safer and convert trucks to run on domestic natural gas.
The full Senate could begin consideration of Reid’s bill on Tuesday and Democrats would like to pass it by the early part of the following week.
After a meeting between President Obama and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, leading Senate proponents of climate and energy legislation say the only climate bill with a chance of passage this year would be a measure placing a cap on the carbon dioxide emissions of electric power utilities.
At least two Republican senators — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine — involved in Tuesday’s meeting with Obama said they would support placing a cap and price on the CO2 emissions of utilities, provided that most or all of the proceeds were rebated to taxpayers.
A key sponsor of climate and energy legislation in the Senate, John Kerry (D-Mass), suggested he might be willing to drop his move to place a cap and a price on CO2 emissions throughout the economy in favor of a more limited bill capping the emissions of electric utilities.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate is close to wrapping up talks ahead of introducing a compromise climate change bill, said a top Democratic lawmaker who discussed ideas with industry groups on Wednesday.
“We’re planning to button up our efforts somewhere I hope next week,” Senator John Kerry told reporters after meeting with a coalition that represents automakers, forestry and paper companies, Big Oil, steel, mining, electricity and others.
Kerry is working with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman on a bill to require U.S. industry to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with global warming.
Speaking with young climate activists on a conference call last Tuesday night, U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) said that even though the timing of his climate bill was tricky, it is doable.
Senator Kerry, co-author of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act along with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cali.), told the young leaders that he was confident the Senate would vote on a climate bill before the upcoming Copenhagen COP-15 climate talks in December, but he also tempered his optimism with a note of caution about what would kind of agreement would actually be reached at Copenhagen.
“I don’t expect Copenhagen to come up with a full treaty,” said Kerry, citing the short amount of time the negotiating teams will have to hammer out the technical specifics of a plan. Kerry said the important part would be agreeing to strong political targets and that the technical specifics could be hammered out in upcoming meetings.
Passage of climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate appears increasingly unlikely in the face of divisions among Democrats and stiff opposition by Republicans, the Washington Post reports.
Top Democrats have been unable to enlist key Republican lawmakers to support the bill, which would create a cap-and-trade system and gradually cut the level of carbon emissions allowed. One of the key Republicans targeted to back the bill, Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, has instead led the opposition, organizing a boycott of the bill’s markup at a hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee last week.
The U.S. Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, and a leading senator predicted that Congress will make good progress on climate legislation — and may even pass a bill — before a meeting in Copenhagen in December to forge an international treaty to slow global warming.
The remarks by Chu and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California were markedly more optimistic than those of President Obama’s chief climate and energy adviser, Carol Browner, who said 10 days ago that a U.S. climate bill would not be passed before Copenhagen.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to solving crises in the economy, climate and security, said Al Gore on Friday (videos below).
The former vice president lauded fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama for efforts including an economic stimulus package with a significant renewable energy component.
“One way or another the reductions in emissions are about to accelerate,” said Gore at the conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Madison, Wis. “What is important, directly or indirectly, is that we put a price on carbon.”
He expressed hope that the U.S. Senate will pass a bill similar to that of the House, even in advance of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. “There is much more bipartisan dialogue behind the scenes than is publicly visible,” he added.
Two U.S. senators will release on Wednesday a draft climate bill that calls for slightly higher greenhouse gas cuts by 2020 than an earlier version approved by the House of Representatives, but that also includes provisions designed to ease the financial burden of cap-and-trade legislation on business and industry.
The bill unveiled by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) calls for a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020, as opposed to a 17 percent cut in the House version.
Four Democratic U.S. senators are calling on their leadership to pass legislation setting renewable energy targets but to postpone the key element of a major climate and energy bill, which would put a cap and a price on carbon dioxide emissions.
The move by the senators — Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, both of North Dakota — could pose a major challenge for cap-and-trade legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives in June and is now before the Senate.
Referring to the renewable energy and cap-and-trade provisions, Sen. Lincoln told Bloomberg News,
“No Drama” Obama somehow managed to step in it again last week, plunging himself into the Skip Gates arrest and racial politics when he was meant to be drumming up support for health care reform.
If the measure of how badly the White House narrative veered off course is to observe that many of the Sunday shows spent more time on ObamaGates (I might have to trademark that one) than they did on health care, it is worth noting that Waxman-Markey is barely in the rear view mirror anymore. It does not appear to be on the Senate’s radar either.
President Obama is the only person capable of speaking directly to the American people in a way that will correct the course of climate change legislation in Congress before it is too late. Congress has never been closer to enacting a price on pollution related to global warming than it is today but proposed legislation is in serious jeopardy of being torpedoed by misinformation and most importantly, a lack of leadership. Congress risks the viability of climate change law further by the method in which it passes related legislation; climate change is a long-term fight and the public must perceive it to be like other continuing programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Propaganda about the effects of cap-and-trade on the economy is one of the primary factors that could bring it down in the Senate. The opposition framed cap-and-trade as a threat to economic growth and a national energy tax; in response supporters of legislation have described it as a jobs bill. Neither are entirely true but the opposition’s argument is easier to believe, despite evidence to the contrary.