Democrats and Climate Change

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Just for Tina, who wonders where energy issues factor in.

The really sad part is that energy independence, climate change, and related topics don't have to be partisan issues. Nixon elevated the EPA to (near) cabinet level for pasta-sake

Nixon and the Environment
“Nixon and the Environment” (J. Brooks Flippen)

Anyway, good for Speaker Pelosi for at least bringing the subject up: lets see some real action too.

Democrats Push Climate Change To Front Burner - The new Democratic-led Congress is trying to put its mark on one of the most contentious environmental and economic problems within reach: climate change.

The initiative is one of the starkest signs of the transformation of Washington's agenda as a result of November's election. While the Senate has debated climate-change moves for several years, the House of Representatives, under Republican control for the past 12 years, has done relatively little.

Now, that is the art of understatement, children.

... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving to ramp up debates on energy and how to curb so-called greenhouse gases, which most scientists believe are accelerating global warming by trapping the sun's heat in the atmosphere. But the Californian already is discovering how controversial any effort will be -- even within her own party. Ms. Pelosi is expected to announce today that she is creating a select committee on climate change and energy independence that will be empowered to hold hearings.

Her strategy is to raise the profile of the issue and press for action by early summer. In an interview last evening, Ms. Pelosi said she saw energy independence and climate-change legislation as part of the next phase of the Democratic agenda after passing bills on issues such as the minimum wage and student loans.

“Tomorrow, we finish our 100 hours, and I will talk about what comes next, and included in that is energy independence. Climate change is part of energy independence,” she said. “We're asking our chairmen to have their hearings and submit their time for us to introduce an energy independence package no later than the Fourth of July.”

and unfortunately, plenty of Democrats are just as beholden to corporate interests as Republicans.

...But her effort is angering committee chairmen less eager to move quickly, particularly powerful Michigan Rep. John Dingell. The Michigan lawmaker has expressed his ire at what he considers an intrusion into his House Energy and Commerce Committee's jurisdiction over energy and climate-change legislation.

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Energy lobbyists are salivating at the prospect of nervous energy consortiums...

The effort has enormous implications for American businesses and manufacturers, which are split on the best course. The coal-mining, oil-production and utility sectors are likely to be hardest hit, since they sell fossil fuels containing carbon dioxide -- the most common greenhouse gas -- or derive their energy from it. Among the forces urging action are industries worried that states are producing a patchwork of regulations. California has a new law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while New Mexico, Minnesota, South Carolina and Florida are working on their own plans. Dozens of U.S. cities have imposed emissions restrictions. A federal law could preempt further local and state efforts.

The most striking example of U.S. industry's evolution toward engaging the issue is oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp., which has long been a leading opponent of emissions rules but has begun talking about how to structure them. The oil industry also faces other pressures; today the House is set to vote on whether to cut subsidies for U.S. oil production.
The flagship among the cap-and-trade bills was unveiled last week by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Barack Obama of Illinois. The legislation would require industries to reduce their emissions to 2004 levels by 2012 and then further decrease emissions by about 2% a year through 2020. The measure calls for the nation's emissions to be reduced by two-thirds by 2050. Less-demanding versions of the bill were rejected by the Senate twice before.

A more modest approach, being prepared by Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, calls for industries to stabilize their emissions by 2020 at levels registered in 2013. After that, the Bingaman bill would impose reductions below 2013 levels. The bill, expected to attract some industry and Republican support, is regarded as a fallback measure if the McCain-Lieberman-Obama approach fails. “We want to occupy the center ground,” a Bingaman spokesman says.

A third approach, sponsored by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, calls on the nation to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to make an 80% reduction by 2050. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, calls this bill, with its steep cuts, the “gold standard.” Her panel will play a major role on the issue.

While these bills would require utilities, coal mines, oil companies and other businesses across the economy to make the cuts, a fourth measure, submitted yesterday by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, focuses only on utilities that make electricity. They would be required to reduce their emissions by 25% by 2020. The bill is supported by six major utilities, including California's PG&E Corp. and Florida Power & Light, companies that have long experience with emissions trading required by the Clean Air Act.

In the House, the climate-change issue is already stoking tensions. Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts is the leading candidate to head the new select committee, which is designed to be largely a communications vehicle able to cut across the traditional lines of the tax-writing, energy, science and environment panels.

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More important than efforts made by politicians would be the efforts made by Americans to improve the Earth's atmosphere. I keep on reading we are responsible for 70%, give or take a few points, of the air pollution in the world.
I wish more people believed we need to change our wasteful habits. Kiss goodbye to SUVs. The frugality of the Depression era generation should teach us, babyboomers.

I will wait and see what happens, if something happens. Something good, I mean. Off-topic--Seth, Art Buchwald passed away.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 18, 2007 9:09 AM.

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