I sure am not aware of a lot of blogospheric buzz about the Lieberman-Warner climate legislation which was just passed by a Senate subcommittee today. That's more than a little bit strange, considering this may well be the climate bill that we're dealing with for decades to come — and the time for decisive action is, well, 20 years ago.
VT Sen. Bernie Sanders correctly frames the issue: The climate doesn't care if our actions are bipartisan, if comity was maintained in the Senate, or if David Broder blows smoke-rings of satisfaction with the deliberative process. The facts are what they are; the danger is stark.
Anyway, Brian Beutler has been doing yeoman's work over at the Gristmill blog on this issue. The short story is that the bill would establish a cap-and-trade program for pollution, and give boatloads, bucketloads, downright shloads of cash to obsolete industries in exchange for becoming marginally less obsolete. And most critically, it would not meet the carbon reduction goals that would be necessary to head off environmental disaster: i.e. 80% reduction of CO2 by 2050.
Sanders has expressed disappointment. Indeed, the special interest giveaways are huge — and they go to the wrong special interest: Coal and Cars. Bleah.
The subcommittee turned down proposals to carve out resources for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources in the bill that guarantees whopping sums for coal ($324 billion) and car makers ($232 billion). It blocked a Sanders amendment to make utilities dramatically reduce emissions from new coal-fired power plants. It voted down an amendment to make polluters pay for carbon emissions starting in 2026 instead of 2036. The majority also failed to set a goal of reducing emissions of heat trapping gases by mid-century by 80 percent – the amount scientists say must be achieved to be effective. The bill calls for at most a 63 percent reduction by 2050, not enough to matter according to experts.
“I am proud that we pushed to improve the bill. It is stronger today than it was when it was unveiled two weeks ago. I appreciate the support for my amendment to improve fuel economy standards for cars. I look forward to making the bill better. The American people favor bolder action than this bill to prevent a catastrophe for our planet. I hope grass-roots activists will put pressure on senators to pass a stronger bill out of the full environment committee.”
In case you're from out of state, here's the list of Dem Senators in the full committee:
Senate Majority Committee Members
Barbara Boxer (CA) (Chairman)
Max Baucus (MT)
Joseph I. Lieberman (CT)
Thomas R. Carper (DE)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY)
Frank R. Lautenberg (NJ)
Benjamin L. Cardin (MD)
Bernard Sanders (VT)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Senate Minority Committee Members
James M. Inhofe (OK)
John Warner (VA)
George V. Voinovich (OH)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
David Vitter (LA)
John Barrasso (WY)
Larry E. Craig (ID)
Lamar Alexander (TN)
Christopher S. Bond (MO)
I wonder about Hillary's view of this; pushing for a stronger bill would be most welcome from her.