Murkowski “dirty air” Amendment vote June 10 will be a key test
The inside-the-beltway media mavens at the Politico report today that the Senate climate and clean energy jobs bill has a heartbeat:
EXCLUSIVE – BIG SUMMER AHEAD FOR ENERGY LEGISLATION: Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a meeting of climate/energy chairs (Kerry/Boxer/Bingaman/Baucus/Rockefeller/Lincoln) for June 10, and asked them to give him feedback on the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act by June 8. “Shows new urgency – feeling very good,” a Senate leadership source e-mails. Sen. Kerry met Wednesday with Phil Schiliro, President Obama’s congressional liaison, to discuss the floor schedule for the bill.
Other signs of life for the legislation:
–A bill is most likely to happen when/if the Fortune 500 demand it. And there were Ford, Google, PepsiCo and other biggies, signing a letter yesterday to President Obama and Senate leaders from 60 enviro groups, unions, trade associations and corporations: “It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to unite behind bipartisan, national energy and climate legislation that increases our security, limits emissions, and protects our environment while preserving and creating American jobs.” Read the letter
–President Obama pushed the bill yesterday in his opening remarks in the East Room: “If nothing else, this disaster should serve as a wake-up call that it’s time to move forward on this legislation. It’s time to accelerate the competition with countries like China, who have already realized the future lies in renewable energy. And it’s time to seize that future ourselves. So I call on Democrats and Republicans in Congress, working with my administration, to answer this challenge once and for all.”
The Politico further reports that “top strategists” in both parties tell them, “we’ll know a comprehensive energy bill’s likelihood of passing after a June 10 vote on an amendment by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would block the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Top Dems say if she gets over 50 votes, that’s BAD for the prospects of comprehensive energy legislation. If she gets 55 votes, that’s DEATH KNELL for the bill. Under 50, supporters are still in the ballgame, even thought the conventional wisdom is still against them.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the administration’s toughening stance on domestic oil and gas exploration — just two months after President Obama expanded drilling — could disrupt delicate negotiations designed to gain crucial votes from lawmakers in Alaska and Louisiana.
Obama’s decision, announced yesterday, comes five weeks after an underwater well began shooting thousands of barrels of crude daily into the Gulf of Mexico.
“It made the hill steeper,” Graham said of the decision’s effect on passing climate legislation in an interview yesterday. “I understand why the president is taking a pause on drilling, but when you talk about cancelling leases, when you talk about stopping Alaska exploration, it makes it harder for this concept to sell.”
… “If [Obama] says we’re gonna not be able to drill along Alaska’s coast, put a moratorium on that, that makes it harder for Lisa Murkowski to pursue this grand bargain we’ve got,” Graham said.
“Let’s be blunt here. Kerry-Lieberman doesn’t have enough support on the Democratic side to come to the floor,” said Robert Dillon, Murkowski’s spokesman. “Sen. Murkowski continues to support economically sound climate legislation. Unfortunately, as of yet, we have not seen a proposal that meets her criteria of doing no harm to the economy.”
Unlike, say, the BP oil disaster, which is I guess doing no harm to the economy — or global warming, for that matter (see “Lisa Murkowski proposes to fiddle while Alaska burns“).