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Climate progress under attack

The people who feel that the climate change legislation working its way through congress isn’t sufficiently awesome to merit their support sometimes contend that no progress would be preferable to incremental progress. If we just hold out, a much better bill is surely just around the bend. What folks rarely seem to consider is that there’s another possibility: rapid backsliding.

All across the land, the meager gains made to date are under ferocious attack. In the senate, Republican Lisa Murkowski has been trying valiantly to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Murkowski caught some flack when it was revealed that an amendment she was preparing had actually been written by lobbyists representing polluters. The following video adequately conveys my surprise at this revelation:

Why even pretend at outrage over this? *Obviously* polluting industries are behind efforts to remove curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. What difference does it make whether the lobbyists write the bills themselves, or just dictate their contents to senate staffers? Fans of bipartisanship will be heartened to know that three Democratic senators have signed on to Murkowski’s efforts. And though she is unlikely to succeed legislatively, her real goal is to make EPA regulations as politically toxic as possible.

Meanwhile, as congress dithers, more attention is being paid to regional efforts to curb greenhouse gases. The most comprehensive of these by far is California’s AB 32, scheduled to go into effect in 2012. Recently a consortium called — wait for it — the “AB 32 Implementation Group” got together to make sure AB 32 never gets implemented. Who belongs to the consortium? Glad you asked:

> The chief sponsors of the Implementation Group are the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and the California Chamber of Commerce. One prominent member, the Western States Petroleum Association, is a trade organization for companies such as BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Tesoro and Valero.

The California governor’s race is currently rated a toss-up, which means that Republican candidate Meg Whitman stands a reasonable shot of making good on her promise to push back AB 32 by at least a year.

To recap: Democrats are widely expected to get trounced in the mid-term election; political support for climate change legislation is softening; and polluting industries are continuing their full-scale attack on the gains that have already been made. Please explain to me again why I’m supposed to be concerned about Goldman Sachs?

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