Lieberman-Warner moved from critical condition to the morgue

morgue.jpgThe fading hopes for the Lieberman-Warner climate bill have all but ended (see E&E News, “Sponsors lower expectations for Lieberman-Warner bill,” subs. req’d, reprinted below).

Serious climate legislation had been in critical condition for some months (see “Boucher lets conservatives block House climate bill” and “Don’t hold your breath on Lieberman-Warner passing in 2008.”). Doctors and family members finally pulled the plug this week, and the patient appeared to lose all vital signs. The coroner listed the cause of death as “apathy.”

The only hope for revival now rests in the faint possibility that Lieberman-Warner turns out to be either an immortal cop, a vampire private detective or possibly a relentless, indestructible killing machine from the future that had taken on the guise of so-so climate legislation in an effort to fulfill its mission of ruining life on this planet for homo “sapiens.” [Note to self: That was a bit harsh.]

More seriously, too many Senators simply wanted to do too much watering down of L-W, plus we have the little-known provision of the Constitution that says all pieces of legislation aimed at sparing billions of people from unimaginable misery must receive 60 votes. The messy details are below:

Senate sponsors of a major global warming bill lowered expectations yesterday on their chances for final passage as aides scrambled behind the scenes to complete a revamped version of the legislation before next month’s scheduled floor debate.

Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) shrugged off suggestions she is having trouble winning over moderates and conservatives from either party in her quest to find 60 votes and squash an inevitable filibuster.

“To tell you the truth, we don’t know if we’ll wind up getting 60 votes this time,” Boxer said in an interview. “But we do believe we’re making tremendous progress and we’re going to start the debate.”

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who provided a critical swing vote for the climate bill last winter when it moved out of the EPW Committee, provided a similar assessment. “I don’t think we can count on 60 at this point,” he said.

Aides to Boxer and Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) have been working over the last few weeks on a substitute to their original climate bill with several changes compared to the version adopted in committee last December. Lieberman said he expected the manager’s amendment would get wider circulation Monday, with a public rollout shortly after.

“The whole idea is to get a draft out to our colleagues, to stakeholders, and we presume, to the public to see what we’re thinking,” Lieberman said. “And then invite responses so we can continue to improve it.”

Warner yesterday said he was looking for changes before the floor debate that would allow the president to “pull back the throttle” if the legislation’s emission targets cannot be met with available technology, or if the U.S. economy was under stress through, for example, $5 a gallon gasoline.

Boxer has also promised several changes to the bill, including a “deficit reduction” amendment, as well as greater oversight of the carbon markets and specific funding directed toward cities to help promote energy efficiency and mass transit.
Many demands

The Lieberman-Warner-Boxer camp is facing increasing demands from all corners of the Senate to change the bill that would establish a cap-and-trade system with midcentury emission limits of 70 percent below 2005 levels.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week he was holding out in his support for the Lieberman-Warner bill because it did not do enough to protect his home state’s manufacturing jobs while still stimulating investments in alternative energy. “I have serious concerns about any climate-change bill that doesn’t take into account energy-intensive industries like we have in Ohio — glass and chemicals and steel and aluminum and foundries,” Brown said.

“He’s concerned,” Brown spokeswoman Joanna Kuebler explained yesterday. “He’s leaning toward a no.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said in an interview that she is also pushing for changes in the Lieberman-Warner bill to benefit her home state’s abundant supplies of hydropower. “We want to make sure people who are already good at reducing CO2 emissions will continue to do that and not be penalized,” she said. Cantwell explained that she has not joined the bill as a cosponsor because she wants to keep working on it.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he wants a more beneficial emission allocation system for his state’s rural energy producers.

“Obviously, I represent a state that’s a significant power producer,” Conrad said. “Most people don’t think of North Dakota that way. But we produce electricity for nine states. We have the largest coal gasification plant in the country. We have very large reserves of lignite coal.”

In contrast, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) maintained that he is a long way from backing the Lieberman-Warner bill. Instead, he is taking a close look at an alternative climate bill circulated from Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) that opens with tax incentives for new energy technologies but falls back on cap and trade if the other ideas have not worked by 2030.

“It’s a more realistic approach to what technology is going to be required,” Nelson said. “Just legislating it, doesn’t get you there.”

[Note to Nelson: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!]

On the Republican side of the aisle, Sen. John McCain of Arizona plans a major climate-themed speech Monday inPortland, Ore., that his aides say will spell out in greater detail what he hopes to do on the issue if elected president this November. McCain will cover issues relevant to the Lieberman-Warner floor debate, including how to limit costs to the U.S. economy and also how to safeguard U.S. manufacturers concerned about international competition, an aide said.

Back in Washington, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) spoke on the Senate floor yesterday on a different method for using what are projected to be hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue raised through an auction of emission credits. Gregg suggested the auction revenue could go toward reducing personal income taxes, as opposed to its current function with Lieberman-Warner, which ranges from research and development of new energy technologies to helping low-income energy consumers.

“This should not be a windfall that expands the size of federal government,” Gregg said. “It’s not right to do that.”

15 Responses to Lieberman-Warner moved from critical condition to the morgue

  1. Susan K says:

    Once they voted Clinton/Sanders no giveaways to industry (100% auctions of permits only) it would be a huge expensive deal, so its not that terrible.

    Better to wait till we get a real Democrat or near enough (Obama) into the White House and a decent cloturevote majority in the Senate.

    Lets try again next year. Do it right.

  2. Earl Killian says:

    Susan, the Senate is critical, but unfortunately right now it looks well short of 60 or 67 and really 67 are needed (e.g. for treaties). 54-46 is the D-R projection that they have over at
    and of course not all Ds can be counted upon. For that reason, I’m not optimistic that we’ll see anything significant on the legislative front. It comes down to what the White House can do administratively. Fortunately the Supreme Court already ruled in Massachusetts v. EPA that they can do a lot. Whether they will is another thing (look at how little got done in 1992-2000) or the Clinton gas tax holiday proposal.

  3. Miles says:

    What are you saying, we should give up? If you don’t want to fight for a strong climate bill, fine, give up, go sit on the sidelines. But declaring the battle lost before it’s even begun? Honestly, it makes you look like you’re pulling for the bill’s opponents so when it goes down you can say, “See, I told you it was too weak and would never pass.”

  4. David B. Benson says:

    I am just discouraged today. :-(

  5. Susan K says:


    I know it won’t be 60, I know not every Dem is so hot, but it will help to have someone in the WH who will at least auction 100% of the permits.

    I did not proofread: I meant to say

    “Once they voted DOWN the Clinton/Sanders “no giveaways to industry” (100% auctions of permits only) it would be a huge expensive deal, so its not that terrible that it failed for this year.”

    Miles, no: never give up. We can keep working to pass other pieces of the 12 Socolow/Pacal wedges these next 7 months.

    Because 400 billion is a lot of money.

  6. Crustacean says:

    Might I have the bad manners to suggest that the two-house Democratic majority would not pass a bill this year even if they could arm-twist the 60 Senate votes, because their real priority is to keep the issue alive past the elections?

    Come ’09, you will then see a replay of what’s described above–everybody with a home-state industrial interest (read: everybody) digging in to make sure his or her ox is not Gored.

    So put aside your disappointments of the moment. It is going to be a very long, unpleasant haul, especially with NO sunspots since the first of the year lasting more than 24 hours, NO net warming measured by satellite or surface stations over the past decade, the ARGO ocean buoys reporting cooler sea temperatures, NASA reporting the Pacific Decadal Oscillation having shifted into its cold phase, which might well last 30 years, Arctic sea ice recovering at a record pace, Antarctic sea ice coverage at an all-time high…I could go on and on but you get the idea.

    Don’t you?

  7. Lowcountry says:

    The final paragraph in Crustacean’s post above seems to lament that a cooler world is a bad thing.

  8. JEM says:

    Well, actually a cooler world is a bad thing for much of life – it reduces the food growing time as you move towards the poles in each temperate zone just as a start.

    There will be another ice age at some point and last I knew an advancing ice sheet is a little more problematic than an ocean forecast to rise a few centimeters.

    So I could see where colder is not necessarily better, and of course in reality warmer is not necessarily bad or good – it just is. And the faster everyone remembers this, the better off we all would be. 30 or 40 years ago, all the hype was global cooling, now warming, are we in for another bunch of hysteria on cooling in another few decades? I would suggest that all the alarmists relax and quit acting the part of chicken little. Weather varies, over huge periods of time. To think that any of us, whether skeptics or believer, has enough real temperature data to make a convincing argument to warrant any massive intrusive program to combat either warming or cooling, is the epitome of hubris.

  9. Growlybear says:

    It’s not our elected officials we need to change, it’s the American people. In a recent poll, almost 90% of Americans are unwilling to pay any increase in fuel or electricity to help improve the environment. No matter what we think of our government, they need to get elected. If Jimmy SUV owner has to pay too much for gas, he’ll vote for the person who will keep it down. When polls consistently find that nearly 70% don’t “believe” in man made climate change, what can be done to change the legislative branch of our government?

  10. Lee says:

    I think the L-W bill will be the worst thing to happen to this economy in a long time if it passes. Everybody ready to pay 5, 6, or 7 dollars for a gallon of gas? Because that is what this bill would do. Think that would bring the economy to a halt? And for what, a man-made global warming HOAX? I found an article from Newsweek magazine from 1975, and it was about global COOLING. It said that we were gonna run out of food, and the world was gonna come to an end. ( Now, why is it that we are warming now? Couldn’t it be that the earth just warms and cools on its own, without mankind having an effect on it? How can we, as humans, think that we have ANY effect on nature? look at tornados, can’t do anything about them. Look at hurricanes, can’t do anything about them. Look at volcanos, they are gonna do what they want whether we like it or not. Bottom line is, I think that this bill is a HUGE tax increase in the guise of helping the enviroment. After all, that’s all the Dem’s want to do is raise taxes, and put a halt to the economy, right?

  11. Me says:

    It is not that ordinary people are not WILLING to pay more….it is that they CANNOT AFFORD to pay more.

    When those in cities talk about driving less, they seem to somehow forget that there is NO mass transit out in the country. You know, the farming areas where your food is grown? Where corn, wheat, fruit, vegetables, soybeans, sugarcane, sunflowers, cows, pigs, chickens, eggs, etc. are grown/raised. So, stop punishing all those trying to earn a living, those trying to get by, those trying just to hold on to the little house they bought outside the city because they could not afford $200,000 for a small fixer-upper in a city.

    The Hollywood types & media ‘personalities’ do not give a damn about the ordinary people in this country. Ditto for the politicians. They feel no compunction about telling others how to live as they jet across the country to show their faces, usually for a hefty fee or award & wasting far more in resources PLUS creating huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. They live in their ‘do as I say, not as I do because I am a celebrity/personality/role-model and you are nobody so you don’t count’ world.

    Guess what, ordinary people are fed up. Ordinary people are working much harder than the celebrity/personality/role-model types to conserve energy & resources. We are tired of empty politics & short-sighted ‘solutions’ that fail to correct anything & generally worsen every situation.

    The absolute, bottom-line reality is that ordinary people can no longer afford the world proposed by the elitists who think they are in charge. While elitists may look down their collective noses at the ‘ordinary people’, elitists are scrambling to make certain their money is off-shore & they use every tax loophole. All the while patting themselves on their collective back they are educating the rest of us. They have other homes in exotic locales in which they can rest & discuss how to make all of us ‘ordinary’ people — who of course don’t know what we are doing or should be doing — do things the way we are told by them & believe what they tell us.

    Enough is enough. The political knee-jerk reactions have to stop. The pandering to one-sided views has to stop. REAL discussions populated by ordinary people have to be heard. All sides need to be heard with the same amount of consideration. Decisions need to be made after hearing all of the evidence. Just as justice is supposed to be blind, the solutions need to be based on all evidence being heard & weighed. It cannot be accomplished by who has the biggest lobby. Ordinary people do not have a lobby. That is why we are ordinary.

    Only then can REAL solutions be found for REAL problems.

  12. joe blow from ohio says:

    Thank you Lee and JEM! There is rationality out there even on a global doom and gloom website. Forget your political persuasion and face the facts. ANY program, drempt up by lawyers in DC, that costs you and me, our children and grandchildren close to $7.0 trillion dollars over the next forty years is an abomination. Hell, even the EPA estimates have electricity prices rising 40+% by 2030 under the bill. This, on top of stealth tax of $7 trillion, will put most people in the poorhouse. Let’s rename this “Green Pig” (environmental pork, if you’re wondering) the heave ho or at least rename it the Let’s See If We Can Outsource The Entire US Economy Act. Clean air and water always deserves serious attention but Global Warming/Cooling, Climate Change(often refered to as “weather”) come on.

  13. Randy says:

    The evidence is mounting that the problem is not as severe as the more hysterical proponents would have you believe re: MMGW. The reality is that this issue has been adopted by those that hate capitalism and freedon as the battering ram for destroying the western liberal economies, they have fooled eve the liberals.

    Unfortunately for the elites leading the charge, those of us in the U.S. that make this country function are not quite the bitter, gun-toting, bible clinging fools you believe us to be. This bill in this form will never see the light of passage. The more shocking result will be you will see us lead the worl in reducing our emissions, it is just not that we will cut our own throats to do it.

    For the eleites to propose a bill that woudl take money (arbitrarily) form our pockets and send it to China, India and the like to shut down minimally producing dirty pseudo-shops for paymenst that they use to build 1 coal fired plant a week in planning for the arrival of the exodus of jobs from the U.S. (based on passage of this bill). Well, if you believe that, you all are the bitter fools.

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