Friday, July 23, 2010

Sen. Dems Back Off On Comprehensive Energy-Climate Bill

Sen. Dems Back Off On Comprehensive Energy-Climate Bill - Jul 22: At a news conference following a Senate Democratic caucus meeting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) admitted that Democrats cannot get even one Republican to work with them on crafting a comprehensive energy and climate bill; and thus, they are essentially scrapping plans for an attempt to pass comprehensive legislation before the August recess. Senator Kerry attempted to put a positive spin on the situation and indicated there was still hope and that the White House and the Majority Leader were still leaving the door open for a possible last minute compromise.
    As an alternative, Majority Leader Reid said in the next few days he will introduce a four part bill that will cover the following: it will hold BP accountable for the Gulf oil spill; it will decrease dependence on foreign oil by encouraging natural gas development and big rig truck conversion to natural gas (i.e. the Pickens Plan, see link below); it will legislate the "Home Star" energy efficiency program; and he said it would put money back into the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
    Senator Kerry said, ". . . we've always known from day one, that in order to pass comprehensive energy/climate legislation, you've got to reach 60 votes, and to reach those 60 votes, you've got have some Republicans. And as we stand here today, we do not have one Republican. I think that it's possible to get there. Even this morning, Senator Lieberman and I had a meeting with one Republican who has indicated a willingness to begin working towards something.  Harry Reid, today, is committed to giving us that opportunity, that open door over the next weeks, days, months, whatever it takes to find those 60 votes.

    "The work will continue every single day. In the meantime, as Senator Reid has just said, we have an obligation to the American people, we have an obligation to our country. And that is to respond to the oil spill in the Gulf.  And that's why Senator Reid is going to bring this admittedly narrow, limited bill to the floor because he's determined to do what we can in the timeframe that we have before the August break that will address some of our energy independence and some of the oil spill issues.

    "Now let me be crystal clear. As Senator Reid said, this legislation that he has proposed does not replace climate legislation. It does not replace comprehensive energy legislation. Now President Obama called me before this meeting and said point blank that he is committed to working in these next days at a more intensive pace together with Carol Browner and other members of the administration to help bring together the ability to find sixty votes for that comprehensive legislation. And the leader is committed to getting that comprehensive legislation to the floor as soon as possible, whenever that might turn out to be. . ."

    The Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP), founded by former Vice President Al Gore issued a statement saying, "It is wrong that hundreds of millions of lobbying and advertising dollars from big oil and dirty coal, along with obstruction by the Republican leadership in the Senate, have blocked debate and action on comprehensive climate and energy legislation. These policies will create millions of jobs, rebuild our economy, strengthen our national security and help solve the climate crisis. This opposition to action is in sharp contrast to the overwhelming support of the American people for a clean energy economy. Now President Obama and the U.S. Congress must recommit to utilizing every opportunity to reduce carbon pollution, invest in clean energy sources that are made in America, and support federal efforts to protect the health and welfare of the American people."

    The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) issued a statement saying, "While strong climate legislation is clearly needed, the proposals under consideration in the Senate (i.e. Senators Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act) fell well-short of what is needed to stop global warming. We are far better served by a science-based approach under the existing Clean Air Act, than by a bill that continues to subsidize and pander to the oil and coal industries and other polluters. Any bill truly aimed at dealing with global warming must build upon -- not gut -- our existing foundation of environmental protections. And, importantly, it must achieve the greenhouse pollution reductions necessary to avert dangerous climate disruption. That means reducing carbon dioxide concentrations that currently stand at 392 parts per million to below 350 parts per million. Nothing less will do."

    The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a statement saying, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today delivered very bad news to the American people. Continuing obstructionism by the Senate Republican leadership, joined by a handful of Democratic senators, is still blocking the way forward on essential clean energy and climate legislation. It is time for all of us to make our voices heard. Over the recess we must deliver a message to senators: 'Do your job!  We face a triple threat of a stagnant economy, ballooning energy insecurity, and a climate that is coming apart. Don't fail us. Don't fail our children. Don't come home again without having tackled these real and present dangers.'"
    The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) issued a statement saying, ". . .The onus isn't only on the Senate. President Obama needs to step up his administration's efforts to make his campaign promise to address climate change a reality. We need the White House to aggressively push for real energy reform. Time is running out. We only have five and half weeks left in this session, and the oil and coal industries are doing what they can to delay legislation and weaken it. We can no longer afford to send a billion dollars a day overseas for imported oil. We can't afford more dirty air, dangerous mining accidents, and oil spilling into our waters. It's long past time for the Senate to protect our future. It should not let this opportunity slip away."
        Outspoken climate change critic, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works issued a statement saying, "I am pleased that Sen. Reid decided against resurrecting cap-and-trade legislation before the August recess, owing to the fact that several members of his own party have rightly indicated their opposition to it. Instead, he and other cap-and-trade supporters have signaled a desire to possibly consider such legislation when Congress returns in September. I very much look forward to having yet another debate in the Senate on jobs, consumers, the economy, and the serious damage that a national energy tax would inflict on all three." 
    Access Senator Kerry's transcript of the news conference (click here). Access a video of excerpts from the news conference (click here). Access the ACP statement (click here). Access the CBD statement (click here). Access a release from UCS (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a posting from the Pickens Plan which includes links to major media coverage of the Senate Dem's announcement (click here).