Thursday, July 22, 2010

U.S. CLIMATE BILL: RIP

ArlingtonNationalCemetery

The last year and a half has produced endless versions of a proposed climate bill. Senate Democrats had already scaled back their plans to pursue limits on greenhouse gas emissions, like those in a bill approved by the House last year. Instead, they had said they would seek a cap on carbon emissions only for power plants. But even that proved overly ambitious.

“We know where we are,” Senate Majority Leader Reid said. “We don’t have the votes.”

[UPDATE: Dave Roberts at GRIST angrily assesses the situation: "What's happened is total and complete surrender. There's no silver lining in this cloud.... It's a sad, corrupt state of affairs this country finds itself in. I wish I had some hopeful words to offer. But at this point, American government appears to be broken. And our children and grandchildren will suffer for it."]

Andrew Revkin lists the things that President Obama might have done but did not do to help move the bill forward and then speculates:

Could it be that the White House has concluded what some political analysts have quietly told me — that only a Republican president could muster the Senate votes to pass a meaningful climate bill? That sounds strange initially but isn’t so strange when you consider the history of major environmental legislation and note that a moderate Republican could bring his or her base and lure many Democrats, while a Democrat is unlikely ever to lure sufficient Republican support to get 60 votes on a climate bill.

Someday, perhaps, Obama or a successor will discard convention and take the lead on this challenge, despite its sweep and complexity.

Of course, one can hope but it's going to take action and will more than audacious speeches.

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