Thursday, June 10, 2010

Climate Update: Murkowski Amendment Fails; Graham Officially Screws Climate Legislation

To update our loyal readers on the fate of our planet's climate, there's some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Senator Murkowski's attempt to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act's Endangerment Finding has failed by a vote of 53 to 47. All 41 Republicans voted for the amendment and were joined by six Democrats: Lincoln (AR), Nelson (NE), Bayh (IN), Landrieu (LA), Rockefeller (WV), and Pryor (AR).

Attempts to debilitate the EPA aren't over, however. Several moderate Democrats have expressed interest in a bill introduced by Senator Rockefeller to postpone EPA action by two years, and Republicans and conservative Democrats in the House have their own plans for trying to put off climate change mitigation efforts.

And now the bad news. The esteemed Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who broke the partisan divide of the Senate, who worked with a Democrat and an Independent to come up with a bill that will help to address the unequivocally nonpartisan climate change crisis, who delayed climate negotiations in the Senate for a year after the House passed its own bill in order to reach a compromise and create legislation that had a chance of passing... has affirmed that he intends to vote for neither the bill that he co-wrote nor the carbon cap-less energy bill in the Senate, which would do very little to address climate change anyway.

In April, Graham declined to introduce his own piece of legislation because Harry Reid talked about trying to tackle immigration this year. Then Reid backed down. Enter devastating environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. You'd think this would compel Graham and other moderates to move full-speed-ahead with climate legislation that will help wean us off of fossil fuels. Nope. Instead, Graham gets pissed about a provision that Kerry and Lieberman added giving states more influence in deciding whether to drill off their shores. Graham says he might still vote for the bill, but doesn't help move it anywhere. But now, it's all over. Graham's done with climate, and apparently done with energy too.

Harry Reid, in his usual fashion, is raising a white flag and offering to introduce an energy-only bill later this year, possibly with a cap-and-trade scheme added later as an amendment (fat chance). So after a bold leadership vote last year by the House, the most progressive Senate since 1980 forced a year of delay due to blind and foolish faith in Senator Graham and now election season is upon us. I wonder if Bangladesh is cool with waiting another few decades before the U.S. Senate realizes that this is actually a problem. Leave us alone, Bangladesh. We have oil spills to worry about.

Here's hoping that the Clean Air Act stays intact for the foreseeable future.

Images: Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

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