The Skywriter

DC Hill Update 3/1/10: Clean Air Act Attacks and Draft Climate Bill Expected This Week

1
Mar

DC Hill Update 3/1/10: Clean Air Act Attacks and Draft Climate Bill Expected This Week

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The Senate just passed a bipartisan jobs bill and health care returned to center stage in Washington. Debate heated up as Senator Murkowski's attack on the Clean Air Act gained both new support and new criticism. Also this week, a Senate climate trio including Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman has reaffirmed their commitment to passing a climate bill this year, beginning with a draft bill.

1Sky and dozens of partners including Clean Energy Works are gearing up for a major call-in campaign taking place this week from March 2-4 asking senators to defeat Senator Murkowski's efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act and urging the Senate to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.

1. Murkowski 'Dirty Air Act' Vote Expected Soon; More Co-sponsors and a New Attack in the House

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is expected to push for a vote on her proposal to gut the Clean Air Act (subs. req'd) this month – possibly as soon as this week. There continues to be a swell of pushback from public interest groups and the administration against Murkowski's Dirty Air Act.

Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) and seven other coal state senators sent a letter last week to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson with questions about the impacts of the Murkowski resolution and plans for regulation of carbon emissions from big polluters and cars under the Clean Air Act. Jackson responded with a letter explaining the details of when different regulations would take effect, and the major problems that would arise if Murkowski were successful in overturning the endangerment finding.

Rockefeller announced his intention to introduce a separate bill that would also stop regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act to give Congress more time to pass regulation (rather than overturn the endangerment finding indefinitely as the Murkowski resolution does). 1Sky strongly opposes any efforts to undermine the Clean Air Act, including Rockefeller's new attack.

Last Thursday, Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN), Ike Skelton (D-MO), and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) introduced a new joint resolution of disapproval aimed at gutting the Clean Air Act that more closely mirrors Senator Murkowski's proposal in the Senate. 14 more Representatives signed on as cosponsors of House bills designed to weaken the Clean Air Act, including eight democrats (1, 2).

For details on how to get involved to stop the Dirty Air Act, go to the USCAN page here.

2. Climate Bill Update

Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told Senator John Kerry (D-MA) that he wants Kerry – along with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) – to introduce a climate bill as soon as possible for consideration in the Senate this year. Kerry continued to express optimism about moving a bill this year despite remarks to the contrary by other senators. Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman are expected to release a draft of their bipartisan climate and energy bill later this week.

President Obama spoke to a meeting of top CEOs last week (subs. req'd) about the urgent need to put a price on carbon through federal legislation this year because of the certainty it will give to businesses leaders who need to plan ahead.

On Saturday, the New York Times published an op-ed written by Former Vice President Al Gore. In the piece, Gore reaffirmed the urgent need for climate legislation this year.

This week, from March 2-4, 1Sky supporters are joining with dozens of organizations to generate a massive number of phone calls to Senators asking them to stop Senator Murkowski's efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act and pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. Click here to learn more about the 72 Hours for Clean American Power.

3. Senate Passes Jobs Bill with Bipartisan Support, Begins Work on Second Bill

A $15 billion jobs bill passed the Senate last Wednesday morning with bipartisan support. Newly sworn-in Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) was the first Republican to vote to end a filibuster and was later joined by a number of other Republicans when the bill passed the Senate 70-28.

Late last week, another draft Senate jobs bill was floated that included programs from the $86 billion Finance Committee bill authored by Chairman Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Grassley (R-IA). This next bill could include tax credit extensions for new energy efficient homes (subs. req'd).

1Sky and other clean energy jobs advocates are especially supportive of short-term job-creating programs in the energy efficiency sector, like HOME STAR.

4. Healthcare Summit and Reconciliation

President Obama held a bipartisan health care summit all day last Thursday in an effort to bridge some of the divides in the health care debate, although coming out of the summit reports suggest that Democratic leaders are preparing to use the reconciliation process (which requires only 51 votes) to move health care legislation forward. With Congress and the administration committed to passing health reform, the timeline for passing comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation is once again to directly connected to if and when health care reform is completed.

5. Vermont State Senate Votes to Close Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant

Last Wednesday, the Vermont State Senate voted to close the accident-ridden, 38-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear plant when its operational contract expires in 2012. This is the first time a state has moved to shut down a nuclear reactor, and it sheds new light on the dangers and problems associated with nuclear power just after President Obama announced substantial new loan guarantees for two new nuclear reactors.

Prepared by Jason Kowalski and Julie Erickson from 1Sky’s policy team. Please direct questions or comments to jason@1sky.org.

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