As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Senate Global Warming Bill Clears Panel

Good for Barbara Boxer, this was a nine-hour session, but Lieberman-Warner passed out of the Environment Commitee:

Democrats turned back repeated efforts by Republican senators to soften the economic impact of a global warming bill before advancing it out of a Senate committee on Wednesday.

It was the first bill calling for mandatory U.S. limits on so-called greenhouse gases to be taken up in Congress since global warming emerged as an environmental issue more than two decades ago. The bill was approved 11-8 by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee [...]

The bill calls for the United States to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2050 from electric power plants, manufacturing and transportation.

It would create a "cap-and-trade" system whereby companies would have pollution allowances that they could sell if they went below the emission limits, or buy if they found they could not meet the requirements.

The trading is aimed at reducing the economic impact of putting limits on carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, the leading greenhouse gas.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the committee's chairwoman, called the legislation "historic."

They beat back about 150 Republican amendments to get this thing through. It's a small victory; obviously there's going to be a tremendous floor fight on this too. Not to mention the fact that the bill is a compromise measure, and some helpful amendments failed today as well.

At this point it's clearer than ever who supports the bill: Incrementalist environmental organizations on the one hand, and industries convinced that this is the friendliest bill they'll ever get on the other. Denialists may not be impacting the debate any longer, but neither, apparently, are deep greens, who today may have lost, in Bernie Sanders, the only voice in the Senate that's been speaking on their behalf.

I do want to single out the far better energy bill, which removes subsidies for oil companies, mandates a renewable energy standard for electricity, and increases fuel economy by 40%. That is a very good bill, better than the incremental approach of Lieberman-Warner. Overall, I do see the Democrats in Congress unifying on this issue and moving strongly to do something on global warming as soon as possible, not waiting for the next President. Combine that with Democrats largely ignoring Bush's petulant whining for more money for the Iraq debacle, even going on the offense over the matter, and then little gems like this:

Remember back in January when Dubya signed an executive order saying that "each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries"? The Democrats do:

"It is a single sentence, on page 147 of the annual appropriations bill funding the White House, listed under the title "Additional General Provisions.''

The 18-word clause eliminates the money to pay for political appointees in each federal agency whose jobs are to approve any new regulations. By cutting the money for the positions, Congress would effectively repeal President George W. Bush's 11-month old initiative (...)

An "omnibus'' bill represents one of Democrats' best chances to force policy changes because such measures typically run hundreds of pages, are subject to relatively little scrutiny by Congress and must be accepted or rejected by the administration in their entirety (...)

Democrats are also using a tool known as "limitation'' -- which prevents an agency from spending money on a specific activity -- to try to kill Bush's Jan. 18 executive order requiring proposed regulations to be vetted by appointees in each agency.

...Inserting the limitation in a must-pass budget bill, [Democratic Rep. Brad Miller] said, would cut off funding for Bush's order. "You can't use federal money, period,'' said Miller."

And you have to be impressed with the Democrats' willingness to challenge special interests and an intransigent President and Republican Party over the past couple weeks. We cannot and should not calcify our beliefs in the netroots and react to new information that conflicts with prevailing wisdom the way Republicans do: by denying the information exists. We should be able to adapt and understand when the Democrats engage in good behavior. On a variety of fronts, they are.

(the bad news will be the next couple posts)

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