Friday, November 6, 2009

Back To Square One On Climate Change

Senator Barbara Boxer’s action in discharging the climate change bill from her Environment and Public Works Committee without and Republican committee members in attendance has angered so many leaders on both sides of the aisle in that chamber that three Senate leaders have determined to go back to the drawing boards and craft an entirely new measure for consideration, rather than continuing to advance the Kerry/Boxer bill reported out Thursday.

Democrat John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham and Independent Joe Lieberman are already working on Plan B, a bill to promote green job creation while protecting the coal and steel industries, expanding nuclear power production, authorizing more offshore oil drilling, and subsidizing renewable energy research and development.

The possibility that plan B will focus on job creation rather than reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change has fractured the environmental interests into warring factions. One side of the fissure, including the Environmental Defense Fund, is already putting out ads featuring energy made in America, 1.7 million “green jobs,” and reduced dependence on foreign oil. The other side, including the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for Biological Diversity, excoriates what they see as dilution of the global warming alarm message in favor of soft soaping ads they call “climate-light.”

Meanwhile, with Senate leaders acknowledging that a floor vote in any sort of climate change bill in the Senate won’t likely happen this year, energy lobbyists are ramping up their spending, and representatives of African nations are walking out of negotiations in Barcelona preliminary to the UN conference on a replacement agreement for the Kyoto Protocol set for December in Copenhagen. It remains to be seen whether the Boxer maneuver is a complete barrier, or just a speed bump on the road to Congressional action later in the calendar.

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