Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best of 2009 #4: "Climate Bill By Copenhagen? Nope... And Will We Even Get One in 2010?"

For all the talk of 2009 being the year of major, real climate action in the US, President Obama still hasn't yet signed a climate bill into law... And ConservaDem Senators are now threatening to stop any more progress on the bill so we can ruin Planet Earth some more and hasten the death of humanity. Oh yes, polluters need more time to keep our economy mired in the 20th century when the rest of the world is already leaping into the "green future".

So this is what I'm thinking about as I remember this from July on the first announced delay of the Senate's climate bill shortly after the House passed its version. Will we ever take serious action on the national level on climate change? Or will Nevada need to "go rogue a la California" to make more progress here?


(Also at OC Progressive)

Late last week, we found out that Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wants to delay her committee's vote on the Senate climate & energy bill and move it to September. And furthermore, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) supports this move as he'll have more time to round up votes. However, we don't really know if this is good news or bad news.

The delay bodes ill for passing a climate bill this year. It shows leaders are not confident they would have enough votes to pass the bill and want as much time as possible to rally support. Boxer also noted that many key senators with a role in crafting climate policy are also leading the debate over health care, another major congressional priority for this year.

[...] Several environmental groups have written in to say that they think today’s announcement is good news for climate legislation.

“We don’t think that this is a problem at all,” said Josh Dorner, spokesman for Sierra Club. “In fact, we think it’s a good thing. It’s a huge organizing opportunity, both here in D.C. and in the field. It also shows they are taking the time to make some meaningful, positive changes to the bill.”

Environmental Defense Fund was equally optimistic. “From our perspective, this is the right decision,” said Tony Kreindler, media director for climate at EDF. “It gives senators more time to review and understand the historic bill just passed by the House. It signals a serious intent to seek agreements on key issues going forward. And it gives Boxer and her colleagues on both sides of the aisle more time to reach those agreements. After all, the chairman has the ability to move forward today if the goal were simply to push any bill through.”

Honestly, I don't mind the delay that much... So long as this delay results in a stronger bill with more votes in time for the international climate change summit in Copenhagen this December. Let me explain my thoughts some more down below.

Last month, I explained why I feel we need to take serious action on the climate crisis.

New Orleans may sink into the sea by 2100. Much of Florida may also be underwater by then. Drought will likely become the norm out West, meaning California could no longer provide the food we depend upon. Las Vegas may become downright inhabitable.

No, I'm not fabricating any of this. These will be the consequences of inaction if we continue to delay implementing the solutions we need to solve the coming climate crisis. But for some reason, may of our supposedly wise lawmakers in Capitol Hill are either willfully ignorant of the facts or downright lying about our future.

Seriously, we can't allow any more of this.
However, the bill we ended up with in the House was badly weakened. And if the Senate passes an even weaker and more meaningless climate bill, then we might as well scrap "ACESA" and restart from scratch. After all if we were make a truly honest effort to prevent any more worsening of the climate crisis, we'd just implement a carbon tax.

Unfortunately, it seems that Democratic leadership is afraid of pushing for something as bold and effective as a simple carbon tax. But fortunately, there may still be a chance of at least strengthening the carbon caps and getting a better bill out of Senate EPW. Barbara Boxer has always been solid on environmental issues, and several more pro-environment Senators sit on EPW.

Still, we have challenges. Even though evidence has proven that renewable energy and energy conservation are our best and only hopes for a brighter energy future, Senate Republicans are already hinting that they will completely oppose ACESA if it isn't porked up with funding for dirty nuclear power. And of course, we'll again face the "clean coal" myth, the ridiculous opposition to efficiency measures that would actually save consumers money, and the typical "big government, big tax, big spending" crap that Republicans can't help but throw around.

This is why we must fight like hell to refute the "climate skeptics", point out the fallacies in the fossil fuel industry's disinformation campaign, convince the Blue Dog "ConservaDems" to stop stonewalling and start doing something good for a change, and encourage environmentalist leaders and Democratic leaders to fight for a better bill. Our future is at stake... Literally! We can not afford any more inaction, and we can not afford a bunch of half-measures that add up to a whole bunch of nothing.

So if this delay in the Senate's consideration of ACESA can result in a stronger bill that will be passed by the end of this year, then I welcome the extra time for us to organize and mobilize. I'm not sure if this is exactly what President Obama and Senators Boxer & Reid have in mind, but this is what we need them to do. Let's remind Obama & Reid that we expect more than just bragging rights for Copenhagen.

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