Republican-Led Filibuster Kills Climate Security Act – For Now

Lieberman and WarnerDemocrats were eager to end debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security bill, but couldn’t muster the necessary 60 votes for cloture. The Republican-led filibuster was successful in holding off the legislation, at least for this session.
 
Senator Coleman reportedly missed the procedural vote that would have ended debate and put the bill up for a vote on the Senate floor.
 
Even though the bill has been shelved for this session, supporters of the bill are claiming victory. They say the cloture vote would have been successful if all the bill’s stated supporters had been present to vote.
 
But they weren’t.

Growing constituent opposition to the bill, driven by already high energy prices, and fear of greatly exacerbating current economic woes put tremendous pressure on both Democrat and Republican senators to vote against the cap and trade bill. Senators who missed the cloture vote may well have dodged a deadly political bullet.

Cap and trade supporters hope to bring the legislation forward with more support next year.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Not all environmentalists are the extremist evil radicals that many like to believe they are. Nor are conservatives the powerless vicitims they like to pretend they are. Read on.

    King Fossil Fuel has ruled: there will be no Senate debate on global warming this year. And Joe Lieberman’s greenwashed campaign gift for John McCain is a no-go.

    On June 6 the Senate failed to override a Republican-led filibuster against the bi-partisan Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. It was a stunning victory for a coal-oil-gas industry that will resonate through the presidential campaign and deep into next year’s new presidency and Congress.

    The legislation was complex and controversial, involving a wide range of potential strategies to fight the climate crisis. At its core were “cap-and-trade” schemes establishing a federal bureaucracy meant to control emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Proposals introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) promoted renewables and efficiency, among other things. Waiting in the wings was a series of amendments which may have set aside roughly a half-trillion dollars for funding new commercial nuclear reactor construction.

    Cap and trade is a controversial approach that many environmentalists believe will establish an unworkable federal bureaucracy and do little to actually fight global warming, while enriching those corporations (and their lawyers) who learn how to game the system. Boxer’s pro-green amendments were generally welcomed as an important start toward what needs to be done. And no major environmental organizations supported the pro-nuke amendments widely expected to be introduced once the bill cleared the filibuster and moved onto the Senate floor.

    But it never got that far. In a stunning triumph for the industries most clearly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, thirty-six Senators voted against the cloture motion. They thus killed a substitute bill proposed by Boxer, with assent from Lieberman and Warner, and from GOP presidential nominee John McCain. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promptly pulled it, meaning there will be no significant climate change legislation from the last Congress of the Bush Era. It was, says the National Association of Manufacturers, “a responsible move by Congress that will save US manufacturing jobs.”

    In fact, it was a harsh message from the coal, oil and gas industry to the nation as a whole, saying there is little or nothing it will allow that would challenge the unrestricted emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, or the catastrophic impact of eco-hostile energy policies such as the removal of scores of mountain tops in the coal fields of Appalachia.

    Ironically, the chief loser in this defeat is John McCain. His good friend Joe Lieberman (I-CT), pushed it as a means of demonstrating a commitment to the environment on McCain’s behalf. The bill was to be a “green” centerpiece to create some distance from George W. Bush, who had pledged to veto this bill.

    But in the public eye, the GOP as a whole now owns the public burden of failing to deal with the risign cost of energy. That includes both McCain and Lieberman.

    It also clears the path for a fresh approach. For as far as it got, the national debate on Lieberman-Warner made it clear that the national environmental community is unified in its support for a massive push for renewable energy and efficiency, is unified in its opposition to subsidies for new nuclear power plants, and is deeply divided about the cap-and-trade approach.

    And it underscored the reality that a radical change in the White House and Congress must come before the US government can deal seriously with the spiraling crisis of the cost of fossil fuels. For John McCain and Congressional Republicans, that can only be bad news.
    _______

  • Ron

    Great thoughts, well stated Rob N Hood

  • Runs a bit long. I’ve asked “Rob” to try and limit comments to no longer than the article he’s commenting on and to try to stay on topic. Long as this one is, it at least pertains to the story.

  • Rob N. Hood

    The Lieberman-Warner bill specifically avoids taxing polluters directly. It used a “cap-and-trade” approach that applies market principles to reducing pollution. (The Union of Concerned Scientists provides a good summary of cap-and-trade.) Could “cap and trade” increase costs at the gas pump? Yes, potentially, with a slow rise of pennies per year that is offset by clean energy and reduced consumption.

    We’ve tried a different approach for the last seven years: We’ve turned the reins of government over to two oil barons and the entire energy industry lobby. How’s that working out for you? In December of 2000 we were paying an average of $1.65 per gallon at the pump. Last night I paid $4.86. That’s an increase of nearly 300 percent – an average of 46 cents per year. If we have four more years of the same results under McCain, we’ll be paying $8 for a gallon of gas by 2012. (That’s using a pennies-per-year calculation; calculating the trend on a percentage basis puts us in the $14 range at the end of a McCain first term.)

    The Bush Administration EPA – that is to say, a potentially hostile force – analyzed Warner-Lieberman and said it might increase costs by 53 cents per gallon by 2030 (less than 2-1/2 cents per year). And that’s without taking into account the enormous range of other offsetting measures that factor into a sane environmental policy. But even this (possibly unfriendly) analysis gives us a total cost increase over 22 years that’s about the same as we’ve paid for each year of the Bush Administration – except that none of that money’s gone into government coffers and pollution hasn’t been reduced.

    But wait, say conservatives – what if McCain doesn’t pursue the same policies as Bush/Cheney? He says he won’t. In fact, he claims to support … get ready … a cap-and-trade approach. But isn’t that what the Right was just calling a “climate tax”? Yes. (Robert Reich details the differences between Democratic versions of cap-and-trade and McCain’s, which is softer on the big polluters who are already benefiting from windfall profits.)

  • John McCain is also a very good politician. he did not win because the people are not satisfied on the Republicans.;,-

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