Senators Kerry and Lieberman have announced that they will go through with the unveiling of their once-"tri-partisan" bill tomorrow, now without Graham. This is certainly going to be an uphill climb. Graham was the bill's biggest chance of passing, and he has wavered and waffled his way to opposing it. There are still a few GOPers who have supported climate legislation in the past (and some who have co-sponsored their own legislation this year), but without the momentum that Graham had given the American Power Act, Republicans will certainly not be flocking to support the bill.
Enter Harry Reid, our fearless majority leader who doesn't back down from a fight. On Sunday, Reid announced that the bill might have to be stripped of its cap on carbon (the "climate" part of the bill) and just include energy provisions such as the renewable energy standard, provisions for more nukes, and yes, provisions for more offshore drilling. This would likely closely resemble the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA) which passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year. ACELA certainly has some valuable parts to it, but ultimately falls woefully short of what is needed.
According to NRDC, without a carbon cap:
"ACELA would at best achieve only one-tenth of the carbon reductions in 2020 that would result from proposed comprehensive legislation that includes a carbon cap. At worst, other provisions in ACELA would swamp any benefits from energy efficiency and leave carbon pollution levels higher than they would be without the bill."As I've said over and over, this Congress could be the last hope in years for passing necessary climate legislation, and if we squander the opportunity, climate change isn't going to wait for us. Reid needs to stop punting on the issue, and the Obama Administration needs to start taking it more seriously and putting the pressure on Congress to get something worthwhile passed.
Images: NGOs demonstrate during the Climate Summit in Copenhagen (dawn.com), nuclear plant (MSNBC)