Yes, Virginia, There Is A Climate Change Bill
Reports of the demise of the climate change bill are highly exaggerated. A large, 63-member coalition called Clean Energy Works has been formed to get the bill over the hump in the Senate. They have ground troops in 28 states and coalition members have run multiple national ads. My favorite is this one from VoteVets, positioning climate change legislation as a national security issue:
Two can play at the "demagoguing about foreign policy" game. And VoteVets have the benefit of being accurate. Sending our tax dollars to Saudi sheikhs who fund extremism is not wise or sustainable, and most of all it's not necessary. The resource wars are just about to begin, if we do not start converting more renewable resources to power our economy.
The energy and climate debate is divisive, but it's possible for the government to devise a "clear, comprehensive, realistic and broadly bipartisan plan to address our role in the climate change crisis," declared the Partnership for a Secure America, a group that seeks a centrist, bipartisan approach to security and foreign policy.
It broadly sketched a plan for emissions reductions, less dependence on foreign oil, more renewable energy and aid to poor countries that will be hard hit by inevitable climate changes. "Doing so now will help avoid humanitarian disasters and political instability in the future that could ultimately threaten the security of the U.S. and our allies," the statement said. Failure to lead, it added, would give the U.S. little leverage in pending international negotiations for a global emissions reduction agreement.
Among the 32 who signed the statement were former Republican senators Howard Baker of Tennessee, John Danforth of Missouri, Slade Gorton of Washington, Nancy Kassebaum Baker of Kansas, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire and John Warner of Virginia.
None of these old fogies will move one Republican in Congress toward supporting the bill. But House Democrats are working their Senate counterparts. And a new analysis showing that the benefits of the Waxman-Markey bill, being used as baseline legislation for the Senate, far outweigh the costs, could spur the chamber to action.
I think it's extremely positive to have the health care debate overshadow the climate change bill, for now. They should try to pass as quickly as possible to keep the opposition off guard. I'm not optimistic about that happening, but in the meantime, at least liberal groups are starting to show some of their muscle.
...I get the concern that Blanche Lincoln will be a tougher sell on a climate change bill, but with her up for re-election and the threat of taking that gavel from her made explicit (ironically, the person pushing that the strongest is none other than Tom Harkin, who just gave up the Ag Committee seat), I think there are actually some pressure points here.