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Climate bill officially dead

The climate bill is officially dead in the Senate, and I’m still wading through the numerous eulogies to figure out how I feel about that fact.

I’m not surprised, even though we’ve recently used these pages to buffer ourselves with hopes that something could work out. But I am extremely disappointed.

I think Dave Roberts has the best angle when he says the number one reason the climate bill died like it did was because of undemocratic rules that bind the US Senate.

The Senate has considered (in committee) a climate bill in each of the last 4 sessions. This one started out with a lot of – what’s that word again – hope. Although climate bills have had strong bipartisan support in the past, the bill this year failed not so much because there wasn’t a majority of Senators who would vote yes, but because there wasn’t a supermajority willing to stop debate on the bill so a vote could be held. Supporters of a comprehensive energy and climate bill could get to 50, in other words, but not to 60.

The economic effects of enacting a climate bill are distributed regionally across the US, and so the political alliances do not break down strictly along partisan lines. This session’s House bill only passed 219-212, with 44(!) mostly Midwestern and coal-state Democrats voting no. It’s this regional split that has doomed climate bills in the more representative House in the past, and I remember a time when the Senate seemed more likely to pass a climate bill. That was just 3 years ago, when Lieberman-Warner had a good showing on the Senate floor.

Meanwhile, the earth continues to heat up because of greenhouse gases deposited in the atmosphere largely due to human activity. It is still my belief that until those gases are efficiently priced into our economic system, that system will continue to subsidize pollution to the detriment of the global environment. A comprehensive climate and energy bill will not become law this year, but I plan on supporting efforts to enact legislation in the next Congress and the one after that, and on until the problem has abated. Sometimes hope is all I have left.



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