Last month, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which aims to transition America to a clean energy economy while combating climate change. After the bill’s passage, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) tweeted that she wanted to “fix” the bill’s cap on carbon pollution because it would “unfairly punish” Missouri’s families and businesses.
Appearing on a conservative Missouri radio show this morning, McCaskill reiterated her belief that the House bill will “hurt a state like Missouri that is so coal dependent.” Asked where she was “on the cap-and-trade,” McCaskill said that her position would make her “friends on the left very unhappy“:
MCCASKILL: Well, I’m going to make people, my friends on the left, very unhappy and I’m going to make those who don’t think global warming is real very unhappy because I’m probably going to be working with a group of moderates in the middle to try to come up with a bill that doesn’t punish coal-dependent states like Missouri. We’ve got to be very careful with what we do with this legislation.
McCaskill added that she wouldn’t “vote for the version ever that was voted on last year in the Senate” and that she doesn’t “think the version that passed the House will pass the Senate in the same shape,” so she’ll work to “craft it in a way that is very gradual.” Listen here:
As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson noted after McCaskill’s initial tweet, “the cap-and-trade system the House passed fully protects states now dependent on coal, with multi-billion-dollar programs for advanced coal technology.” In fact, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), an architect of the bill, told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer on Monday that the House took the Senate’s regional concerns into consideration when they crafted the legislation:
WAXMAN: We tried to keep the Senate in mind and adopted a bill that eliminates some of the regional disparities and bad results. The Senate is particularly sensitive, when you have two senators per state, to what’s going to happen in their state. And that’s why we drafted a bill that is, wasn’t really partisan, but more bridging the regional differences and some of the partisan differences by making sure no country and no industry had to bear more of the burden and that the ratepayers, where ever they may be in this country, are protected from steep increases.
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), who represents a coal district and was very influential on the bill, is confident that the legislation doesn’t disproportionately harm coal. “My focus in the shaping of the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee was to keep electricity rates affordable and to enable utilities to continue using coal,” said Boucher. “Both of these goals have been achieved.”
FERGUSON: But let’s go ahead and get right to the big issues here. Obviously right now the cap-and-trade is the big thing. Now, in a state that is, you know, in a lot of ways dependent on coal, you know, there’s a lot of worry about this. You know, the current version of the bill working through the Senate, how does that, how does that you know, look to you right now? Where are you on the cap-and-trade?
MCCASKILL: Well, I’m going to make people, my friends on the left, very unhappy and I’m going to make those who don’t think global warming is real very unhappy because I’m probably going to be working with a group of moderates in the middle to try to come up with a bill that doesn’t punish coal-dependent states like Missouri. We’ve got to be very careful with what we do with this legislation. For one, we need to be a leader in the world, but we don’t want to be a sucker. And if we go too far with this, all we’re going to do is chase more jobs to China and India, where they’ve been putting up coal-fired plants every ten minutes. So, I’m very conscious of the fact that Missouri businesses and Missouri families don’t have a choice as to where they get their utilities generation. It’s coming primarily from coal now and it will take a decade or longer to move to either sequestered coal or other forms of energy that will be more responsible as it relates to get out from underneath the thumb of foreign oil and reducing our carbon imprint. So, I’ll be, I won’t vote for the version ever that was voted on last year in the Senate. I would vote against that version. I don’t think the version that passed the House will pass the Senate in the same shape, so I’m going to be one of those trying to craft it in a way that is very gradual, that is not going to hurt a state like Missouri that is so coal dependent.
FERGUSON: Why is there such an immense pressure and there’s an immense urgency. Why does this, you know, the folks on your side of the isle, to be very candid, say, “we need to do this right now.” You know, we’ve, you know, there’s so many questions about the cost, which will eventually come back to the consumer. Why is there such an urgency that says we have to do this not within sometime within the next year or years, it has to be done within days or weeks. Where is that coming from?
MCCASKILL: Well, it’s coming from the science and by the way, just because the legislation is done, doesn’t mean it’s, all its provisions go into effect immediately. In fact, as it stands now, I think the support, if there is going to be enough support for the bill, it’s going to be a very gradual implementation as we move towards changing to wind and solar and other kinds of energy. But you know, keep in mind, John McCain was one of the co-sponsors of this legislation in its first iteration. I mean, he was, it was the McCain-Lieberman bill, so we had both the Republican nominee for president and the Democratic nominee for president agreeing that this is a problem that must be dealt with. And I think that one of the reasons that some are anxious to do something this year is to set the tone for Copenhagen, that occurs later this year. Where we are busy trying to use every stick and carrot imaginable to bring other countries into line with making strides in this regard. Like I said before, it’s not going to do us any good to clean up our act as it relates to the atmosphere. It’s the same atmosphere that China shares and Japan shares and India shares. Some very big industrial countries. So, we’ve got to make sure that they’re in line with us and that’s why us beginning to take a step before Copenhagen, there’s a wide beliefe that that’s going to be a spur to help us secure the kind of agreements that we need to get from China and India primarily.