The Dernogalizer

March 29, 2010

Push back from the Left on Federal Climate Bill

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:05 pm

Although it’s still real murky what the negotiations on federal climate legislation will lead to in the form of legislation, a lot of the talk has been disconcerting as John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham try and win over skeptics in the business community such as the US Chamber of Commerce.  We’ve heard nuclear, offshore drilling, clean coal, gutting of the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and a federal preemption of existing state emissions reduction laws.   Not too encouraging.

There have been some signs over the last week that in the process of trying to court the right, the negotiators shouldn’t think the support of the left is a given if this bill goes too far south.

In early March, Joe Lieberman said Arctic Drilling was “a deal breaker”

Last week, coastal Democrats sent a letter to the bill’s architects warning that expanded offshore drilling could lead to them opposing the legislation.

The Sierra Club’s new Executive Director Michael Brune said that there were several trigger points would could cause the Sierra Club to oppose the bill.  Brune cited concerns with many of the provisions I listed above. “We will go to the mat for defending Clean Air Act authority. We are also concerned about offshore oil drilling, and we will not be able to accept the dramatic giveaway that offshore oil drilling represents,” Brune said.

Finally today, one of the most liberal members of the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, wrote a letter to the architects expressing disappointment with the shortcomings in the legislation the Senators are drafting.  This should be seen as a warning shot that if the climate legislation favors fossil fuel interests too heavily, Sanders would not support it.  I think Sanders makes strong points, but I want to point specifically to his argument for not allowing state preemption:

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Massachusetts, Vermont, California, and other leading states for taking early action to address global warming.  States continue to innovate on clean energy policy, setting ever-more aggressive policies to reduce emissions, increase efficiency, and move to sustainable energy.  Federal environmental policy has often set a floor and allowed states to continue to innovate.  In my view, preempting leading states would be a huge mistake: we should definitely set  a floor, but not a ceiling


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