Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Moderate Democratic Senators Will Shape Climate Legislation

Aug 7: Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) and nine of his Senate Democratic colleagues wrote to President Barack Obama on Thursday (August 6) to outline the need to maintain a level playing field for American manufacturing in any climate change legislation to come before the Senate in the fall. The Senators expressed their support for a border adjustment mechanism and other initiatives that would ensure the future competiveness of U.S. manufacturing. The letter was signed by Bayh and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Russell D. Feingold (D-WI), Carl Levin (D-MI), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), Arlen Specter (D-PA), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), and Al Franken (D-MN).

As WIMS has previously noted on Mar 18, 2009, a group of 15 Senators -- 14 "moderate" Democrats and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announced they were forming a coalition to help shape public policy that will have a major impact on pending proposals for environmental, energy and climate change legislation [See WIMS 3/19/09]. The original Group of 15, including some strong supporters of President Obama lead by Bayh of Indiana, Tom Carper (D-DE) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR); and also included Mark Udall (D-CO); Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Begich (D-AK); Kay Hagan (D-NC); Herb Kohl (D-WI); Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO); Ben Nelson (D-NE); Bill Nelson (D-FL); Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); and Mark Warner (D-VA). Comparing the original group of 15, with the new coalition of 10 Senators, it now appears that the "moderate" group has become much larger and will have an even greater influence on any energy and climate change legislation.

In the August 6 letter the senators wrote, “As Congress considers energy and climate legislation, it is important that such a bill include provisions to maintain a level playing field for American manufacturing. We must not engage in a self-defeating effort that displaces greenhouse gas emissions rather than reducing them and displaces U.S. jobs rather than bolstering them. Domestic manufacturers and the workers they employ can and must play a vital role in our nation’s clean energy future.”

The Senators also outlined initiatives to ensure manufacturers are not disproportionately affected by climate change legislation. They said, “Any climate change legislation must prevent the export of jobs and related greenhouse gas emissions to countries that fail to take actions to combat the threat of global warming comparable to those taken by the United States. It is essential that climate change legislation include a border mechanism, sufficient allowances to energy intensive industries and other effective measures that encourage international agreements and maintain a level playing field for American manufacturers.”

Access a release from Senator Bayh (click here). Access the Aug. 6 letter from the Senators (click here). Access a revealing March 2009 "Hardball" interview with Senator Evan Bayh (click here).

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