Yesterday afternoon, Lindsay Graham confirmed that he’s bailing from efforts to pass a climate change bill. The odds weren’t looking good for this legislation, but now they’re hard to distinguish from zero. And the news gets worse after the midterms. Simply put, given the difficult nature of the problem and the regional considerations in play, you just can’t tackle climate change unless a substantial number of Republicans want to tackle climate change. In theory, this shouldn’t be impossible. There are three Republicans from liberal states in New England. And there are a bunch of Republicans from southwestern states with low carbon emissions and huge potential to generate low carbon energy. On top of that, you have Republicans from Gulf Coast states whose population should be intimately familiar by now with the ecological consequences of climate disruption and fossile fuel use.
But there’s no sign of any movement. And as Kate Sheppard observes, Graham himself can barely speak coherently on the subject:
I’m in the wing of the Republican Party that has no problem with trying to find ways to clean up our air. We can have a debate about global warming, and I’m not in the camp that believes man-made emissions are contributing overwhelmingly to global climate change, but I do believe the planet is heating up. But I am in the camp of believing that clean air is a noble purpose for every Republican to pursue. The key is to make it business friendly.
Paradoxically, the 111th Congress is going to go down in history as one of the most productive and consequential of all time, but also one that abjectly failed to confront the most important issue it faced. And by “Congress” I mean “Senate.”