Boxer plans week of Aug. 3 for cap-and-trade markup, Udall (D-CO) gives final bill “50-50 or better odds” of passing the Senate this year

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) plans to wait until the week of Aug. 3 to mark up climate change legislation in order to have a series of hearings on the issue and the bill first, she said today.

This timetable, reported late last week in E&E News PM (subs. req’d), is faster than many had imagined.  It would create the possibility of the full Senate considering the bill before Copenhagen in December — “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he wants to hold a floor debate in the fall on the climate and energy package” — though I still think it unlikely the final bill ends up on Obama’s desk this year.

On Thursday, E&E News (subs. req’d) reported:

Two other Democratic members of the committee — Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — endorsed the hoped-for timeline. “We would like to do it before the August recess, that is correct,” Klobuchar said.

Still, Boxer’s timing remains a tad uncertain:

“That’s our hope,” Boxer told reporters. “Again, as I said, anything can change, but that’s what we hope for now.”

Boxer yesterday acknowledged that she would try to move cap-and-trade legislation before the August recess, but left it unclear if that meant in July or the week of Aug. 3, when the Senate is scheduled to be in session. Today, Boxer said she has reserved July for public hearings on climate issues. “To bring us up to speed,” she said. “And then also as soon as we write the bill, [hearings] on the bill that we write.”

It looks like Boxer will use Waxman-Markey as a starting point, but modify/improve it:

Boxer said the cap-and-trade plan her committee approved in December 2007 — which died on the Senate floor last summer — was the “basis” for the House bill authored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) “Now we are taking their bill and we will work off that bill,” she said.

“I think you will see some differences, but it is basically similar,” she added. “There will be some tweaks, there will be some add-ons.” Boxer noted that she has been working with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on agriculture issues. “She has come up with some terrific ideas on offsets,” Boxer said.

I can’t wait to see those terrific ideas!  Let’s hope one of them is a sunset clause (see “The one simple change that could vastly improve Waxman-Markey“).

Boxer hinted her bill might go back to the original target in the first Waxman-Markey draft:

Asked whether her plan would mirror the Waxman bill’s emissions targets, Boxer said it may differ when it comes to short-term reductions. “You might see a little bit of a stronger bill coming out of our committee, but I don’t know, we have not made a decision,” she said. Waxman and Markey had originally sought a 20 percent reduction by 2020 but reduced the level during negotiations with moderate Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

I’ve heard the same thing from staff.  Let’s hope Boxer screws her courage to the sticking place on this one:  20 in 2020!

Boxer predicted momentum no matter how large the margin from the House floor vote — just so long as it passes. “Well, the more, the better,” she said. “But look, if it passes, it passes. It’s all good.”

And what are the chances of final passage in the full Senate?

Looking forward, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said he would give global warming legislation “50-50 or better odds” of passing the Senate this year. “There’s a lot of momentum over here to work on this,” Udall said. “I think we’ve been tactically smart, letting the House go first. I think if they can find the sweet spot, it’s a very similar sweet spot over here. Stay tuned.”

Asked if 60 votes was possible, Udall replied, “I do, I think it’s probably a tight 60 votes, but I think it’s possible.”

l think the odds are much better than 50-50 if this story is true — Nancy Sutley: Obama to stake political prestige on passing US climate bill — and especially if this story pans out, “Exclusive: Have China and the U.S. been holding secret talks aimed at a climate deal this fall?

9 Responses to Boxer plans week of Aug. 3 for cap-and-trade markup, Udall (D-CO) gives final bill “50-50 or better odds” of passing the Senate this year

  1. Brewster says:

    I hope it gets through this year…

    Our gang here in Canada seems to be playing “follow the leader” on this issue, so the better the US bill, the better the Canadian one…

  2. Rick Covert says:

    I suppose a very weak bill is better than no bill at all but I would like to see the CO2 emissions reductions tamped down to 30% below 1990 levels by 2025. I know that will go down like Caster Oil Flakes.

  3. john says:

    Castor oil flakes … yuck, what an image. But 30 below 90 is the minimum reduction we need to have any chance of avoiding catastrophe.

    We’re pushing a rock up a very tall peak — if we don’t do something like 30 by 90, it goes over the crest and we’ll be standing in front of it as it hurdles downslope, like a tenpin before a bowling ball.

    That’s why, to me, this whole argument about what is politically possible is irrelevant, even if accruate. It’s time to do what needs to be done, not what can be done; time to fight the fight that must be fought, not the one that we know we can win.

  4. Does anyone have thoughts about the political implications of both the house and senate passing a bill before Copenhagen?

    It seems that it might make it more difficult for the US to negotiate in Copenhagen, since our target would already be in place.

    I could be that we would get a stronger bill if it is not passed until after Copenhagen, because 1) other nations will press us to do more at Copenhagen, and 2) if Copenhagen is successful, there will be strong momentum behind the movement to limit ghg emissions.

    These are just speculations, and I would welcome anyone’s thoughts about them.

  5. gmo says:

    Charles Siegel,

    I am in the camp of feeling we should take W-M because it is good – not the at least great we really need but what is realistically possible considering the politics. My worry is that we may not be able to get even the W-M amount later. I consider something now to get things moving and hoping for greasing of the tracks to get later further movement a better route than not pulling the trigger in hopes of something better later. Thus…

    Basically I think a bill passed by at least one chamber or appearing likely to get to the President’s desk helps make Copenhagen relatively much more likely to be successful. If the US waits I think that looks inactivist and gives cover to others who want to avoid action. In that case I think it is much more likely Copenhagen is chaotic and makes little progress than it leading to anything that would force the US to take stronger action.

  6. Rick Covert says:

    What I see now is a bill that gets us to 4% below 1990 CO2 emission levels by 2025. I don’t see that as adaquate to meet the 30% – 40% reduction targets that climate scientists, like Hansen, et-al, say we must meet by 2025.

    Now, if I’m wrong about the emissions targets then someone please enlighten me what the right targets should be.

  7. I agree with John and Rick. We can reduce 40% by 2015. Nobody has told us what the EPA rules would be, but we have been told that the purpose of H.R. 2454 is to prevent the EPA rules. We NEED the EPA rules because by the time everybody is convinced, it will be too late and our extinction may be inevitable.

  8. CarbonWatcher says:

    Copenhagen needs a strong US bill if not in place, then at least half-way there. Every other developed country (esp. Japan, Australia and Canada) is holding back, waiting to see what Uncle Sam will commit to before they commit themselves). If Team Obama hits town with a 17% below 2005 by 2020 target, then what we have already got on the table (Japan 15%, Australia 5-15%, Canada ?%) will pretty much stay there. If a deal is struck on that basis, then Europe will quietly junk its promise of a 30% below 1990 by 2020 target “in the event of a strong international agreement”, and stick to its current 20%.
    Anything more than 17% from the US would be a big, big help. Bbut I don’t suppose the will or the money is there for any more, so we should start getting used to Annex 1 targets ranging from 15-20% by 2020 from 2005 levels (1990 base year will also probably get quietly junked too).
    If there’s no sensible US bill by Copenhagen, then Annex 1 will find it hard to agree to anything binding, and we’ll probably have to have another meeting in 2010 once Congress has come to a decision.

  9. Mark says:

    Does anybody realize how many times “international” appears in the current Waxman-Markey bill? Over a hundred times. Why? To transfer “unprecedented” amounts of wealth and green energy technology from Annex 1 countries to developing countries so that they can grow their economies while we are shrinking ours? I think so. But no worries… We are going to get free rationed healthcare so that we won’t be so stressed over having a much lower standard of living.

    [JR: What’s that sound, Radar? The whirring blades of the black helicopters….]