On Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stood with fellow Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to introduce principles for climate legislation, saying “We know that we have to act, and we intend to act.” David Axelrod, one of President Obama’s senior advisers, told E&E News that the effort by Congress to construct legislation to fight global warming is more than welcome:
We think that it’s healthy that there’s so much momentum in Congress to address this problem. It’s long overdue.
Boxer admitted that December is her working deadline for getting a bill “out of committee.” Other Senate chairs, including Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingman (D-NM) and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) intend to weigh in on any legislation. “All of those committees,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told E&E News, “especially my old committee, EPW, have an important role to play for the Senate to produce a sound cap-and-trade bill that meets the president’s emission reductions objectives.”
At Climate Progress, Joe Romm therefore doubts climate legislation will be passed before 2010: “So this has to get through multiple Senate committees, pass the full Senate, be reconciled with whatever comes out of the House, and then pass both House and Senate again, and finally end up on Barack Obama’s desk.”
Meanwhile, President Obama continues to build a green-powered administration, with the selection of Robert Sussman and Lisa Heinzerling as senior EPA policy advisers, Todd Stern as the State Department climate envoy, climate justice leader Ron Sims as deputy secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and even new assistant White House chef Sam Kass, a strong supporter of local, sustainable, and healthy food.
Showing that Obama won’t just wait for Congress to act, yesterday the EPA and Department of Justice restarted a “national initiative, targeting electric utilities whose coal-fired power plants violate the law,” with a lawsuit against a Kansas utility whose coal-fired power plant has been in violation of the Clean Air Act for more than ten years. The case against Westar Energy had been held up by the Bush administration since 2003. A memo from Stephen Johnson’s deputy Marcus Peacock practically shut down all enforcement activity in 2005 .