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Why the Senate climate bill is on life support

Monday was to be a launch party for supporters of a congressional push to limit greenhouse gas emissions and boost domestic energy production. Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were to roll out their long-negotiated version of the climate bill the House passed last year, along with endorsements from environmental groups, utility executives and even oil companies.

You know what they say about best-laid plans. On Saturday, Graham scuttled the liftoff (OK, enough with the rocket metaphors) by threatening to walk away from the bill in a dispute with Democratic leaders over the timing of the climate bill vis a vis an immigration bill that Graham also happens to be working on. He's since resumed talks with Kerry and Lieberman about the effort, including a meeting this evening.

The general mood among close observers is that the immigration-climate spat will be resolved, Graham will eventually return to the fold and the launch will be rescheduled. At which point, the so-called Three Musketeers will still have to line up a 60-vote bipartisan coalition to advance the bill in the Senate -- a tough task, as Wall Street regulation backers are discovering anew.

It's a lot of drama for a bill that may never -- OK, one more rocket analogy -- break through into orbit. And if you're struggling to follow along, here's a quick rundown:

*Kerry, Graham and Lieberman spent months negotiating a climate bill with environmentalists, fellow senators and, with particular vigor, industry groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute.

*Their bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, through a variety of mechanisms, including a "cap and trade" system for utilities; it included major sweeteners for nuclear power, offshore oil and gas drilling, manufacturers, "clean coal" research and energy consumers.

*All three senators -- and, based on recent public comments, President Obama -- believed the climate bill was next in line, among major legislative efforts, after Wall Street regulation. The senators believed they had a promise on that from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). *Late last week, with the immigration issue heating up thanks to a tough new state law in Arizona, Reid began to suggest he might bump immigration ahead of climate on the crammed Senate calendar.

*Graham, already taking heat from all sides for his aisle-crossing partnerships on climate and immigration, recoiled at Reid's suggestion; Lieberman would later say (on CNN on Monday) that Graham had been promised there would not be an immigration vote this year, even though the South Carolina senator has recently been pushing the White House to engage more on immigration.

*When Graham threatened to bail on the climate talks over immigration, Lieberman and Kerry postponed their plans to roll the bill out Monday.

*The key players here are Graham, Reid and, depending on whom you believe in Washington, perhaps Obama.

Many environmentalists and energy lobbyists cast Reid as the villain, claiming he's jeopardized both bills by trying to score a quick political point on immigration -- essentially, by scheduling a vote on a bill he knows will not pass, thereby firing up the Latino voters he needs in his Nevada reelection this year.

Others question whether Graham, who previously threatened to quit the climate talks over health care and other partisan battles, was looking for an escape from energy and immigration negotiations that have won him few friends among Democrats and antagonized Republicans in Washington and his native South Carolina.

Both camps agree that this climate bill won't go anywhere if Reid and Graham can't work things out -- and soon. Enter Obama. White House staff has worked hard behind the scenes to facilitate the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman process, but some observers say Obama himself must broker a Graham-Reid truce to revive the bill.

*The open secret of the climate bill is that Kerry, Graham and Lieberman still aren't close to securing 60 votes. Graham is the only Republican to sign on explicitly. The senators believe others will join him, along with moderate Democrats, once more details take shape. Many environmentalists agree. Other observers say it's unlikely, even with broad industry support, that the bill picks up enough swing-vote support to survive a filibuster.

*If the negotiations collapse, there's no clear backup plan. Most analysts agree that this is the best chance for a climate bill to pass Congress for perhaps years, because Republicans are poised to pick up seats in November's elections.

Alternatives do exist. The Senate energy committee has passed a bill to spur domestic energy production and mandate nationwide renewable electricity consumption, but environmentalists say the bill doesn't specifically limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced a short, simple bill dubbed "cap and dividend," which would force emitters to buy greenhouse gas permits and refund most of the proceeds to consumers. They've struggled to gain traction, in part because powerful coal-state senators worry the plan would penalize their residents -- forcing the Rust Belt to subsidize the coasts -- and cripple domestic manufacturing.

A pair of Republicans, Indiana's Richard G. Lugar and Ohio's George V. Voinovich, have floated plans to dramatically increase energy efficiency requirements across the economy, cutting emissions, but not nearly as much as environmentalists would like.

Waiting in the wings is the Environmental Protection Agency which is set to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and large factories next year. If no climate bill passes this year, the big environmental fight of the lame-duck Senate session could be a move to block EPA from following through on those regulations.

--Jim Tankersley, in Washington 

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Obama and his accomplices know how bad this "climate bill" (cap and trade) would be for us, but they want to force us to swallow it because they expect to further empower and enrich themselves at our expense.

They don't even call it "cap and trade" any more because every thinking American understands that "cap and trade" is another criminal scam that would further destroy our companies, our jobs, our economy and our freedoms.

Cap and Trade “would be the equivalent of an atomic bomb directed at the U.S. economy—all without any scientific justification,” said famed climatologist Dr. S. Fred Singer. It would significantly increase taxes and the cost of energy, forcing many companies to close, thus increasing unemployment, poverty and dependence.

Numerous economic studies support a leaked memo from the Obama administration that said restricting carbon dioxide emissions will have a severe negative impact on the U.S. economy.

Applying the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s economic forecasting model, Science Applications International Corporation reports reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions 70 percent by 2050 could kill 4 million U.S. jobs, cause gasoline and electricity prices to more than double, and reduce household income by more than $7,000 each and every year.

My energy bill is way too high.I was talking with my boss who agreed he pays to much in energy costs. He said solar can help reduce the monthly energy bill.He was saying that this one time investment will save me a lot and take care of my future power needs.Moreover, my energy company won’t bug me with increasing rates all of the time.So I did some research on this solar panel thing.I hit upon a website which has a lot of info and price comparisons, financing and leasing, tax credits and rebates.I feel more knowledgeable now.Do you guys think that I should go for this solar?Let me know

The AZ bill is great and we are now waiting for the same to happen in CA were we have a lot more illegals. This law should also be great news for climate poeple, indeed think about environment and illegal immigration. As illegals leave AZ and the US they will no longer 'consume like Americans'. Think about 1M less illegals in LA, no longer shopping at target (usually low durability made in china items), driving cars, eating, etc. Back in Mexico they will consume far less. At the same rate here in America we should make an effort to reduce our lifestyle and consumerism.

This will be a great bill. It has been carefully crafted by the business community so that they can pass the complete costs of the bill to the middle class. What a victory for the self serving politicians. How about jobs...we have nearly 20% unemployment.

So here's the breakdown: The Republican Right manufactures a constitutional crisis in Arizona which violates human rights. The Federal Government and the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are compelled to address the immediacy of this immigration crisis. Then other members of the Republican Party blame the Democrats and Reid for addressing the immigration issue before the climate change issue and pull out of climate change negotiations.
Seems like the Republicans won't be happy until they can have every non-white person arrested, detained and prosecuted for global warming. Afterall, most Republicans can't deny that global warming and climate change is occuring and maybe just maybe they can scapegoat people that don't look like them as the cause. That is the genius of Republican thinking.

In a sudden change, the Obama Administration has become motivated by the new Arizona immigration law to drop pending Senate and House climate legislation to leverage racial politics over ecopolitics in order to activate its progressive base voters for the congressional elections this fall. Democrats will now attempt to pass national immigration reform laws, and forego new climate laws. Democrats are desperate to stem the widely-predicted, and historically-recorded, losses in their congressional majorities this fall. To conflate illegal immigration controls with racism is a cynical, fraudulent and dangerous ploy.

Thirty-four-year US Representative, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman of Los Angeles was a key sponsor in passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act; a.k.a., the “Waxman-Markey Climate Bill.” The thousand-paged, unread bill narrowly passed the House along partisan lines last fall. Waxman’s bill mimics the costly green regulations that have caused businesses and the middleclass to flee California in recent decades. In the midst of recession, the fanciful green economy of carbon taxes and bureaucratic bingeing for the purely symbolic, marginal environmental improvements that now cripple California will surely stall any national economic recovery.

The Senate version Climate Bill, cryptically titled The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, a.k.a., the “Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill,” was sidelined this week shortly after the Arizona immigration law passed. This Senate Climate Bill would have only moderate the provisions of the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill in the areas of emission goals, carbon allowances, international competitiveness and cost containment.

As the fall mid-term congressional elections near, the media that elected Obama will be only too happy to shift the subject from nuanced and costly climate issues to their default news controversy, race in America. Racial discrimination is as dangerous as it is rare in America. However, “race baiting,” the false claims of racial discrimination for political ends, is just as dangerous. Race baiting and racial agitating have become lucrative career tool for civil rights activists.

Nothing is more cynical or dangerous than a dominant political power that is desperate to maintain its control over American government. Just when you thought Washington political gimmicks had exhausted our mistrust of government, the Democrat-controlled agenda gambles, yet again, with our money, trust and civil unity. Climate legislation can wait. But, improvements in jobs, government competency and government trust can not.


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