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DC Hill Update 4/28/10: Climate bill delayed

28
Apr

DC Hill Update 4/28/10: Climate bill delayed

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The roll-out of the climate bill originally planned for Monday was delayed once more this weekend after Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he would not move forward with the process until Democratic leaders assured him that the Senate would take up climate legislation ahead of immigration reform. On Monday the Senate is expected to take up financial regulatory reform.

1. Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Climate Bill Delayed

Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (CT) were expected to release their long-awaited climate bill on Monday, but the roll-out got delayed this weekend after Graham said he would not move forward amid concerns that immigration reform could move ahead of climate legislation on the Senate agenda. This led Kerry to postpone the release of the bill until Graham's concerns are resolved. Senator Kerry says that he and Senator Lieberman are still "pressing forward". While White House Economic Advisor Larry Summers effectively sidestepped the dispute on Sunday, saying that both reform efforts are important and that he would bring a climate and energy bill to the floor for a vote as soon as it was ready to go. Kerry said last week that he expected at least three oil companies and the Edison Electric Institute to support the bill. Leaks also suggested that the bill would block the Clean Air Act and state climate laws.

As of last week, it appeared that the provisions most likely to dominate the climate debate going forward include the Clean Air Act, state climate laws, offshore drilling, and regulation of transportation fuels.

While it was previously thought that the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill would bypass the committee process and be managed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Reid signaled last week that he wanted to leave the door open for Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) to mark-up portions of the bill under their jurisdiction. If the health care debate is any signal, this would slow the debate significantly, but would also placate the concerns of many moderates who have called for the bill to move through the Senate using the standard committee process. (subs. req'd)

Last week, Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced a bill that is an even more extreme rebuke of climate science than previous attacks on the Clean Air Act. In addition to preempting all climate-related programs under the Clean Air Act, Voinovich's bill would also preempt state and regional climate initiatives and block regulation of global warming pollution under three additional environmental laws: the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Voinovich hopes to offer his preemption bill as an amendment to the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill.

2. Stand-alone Clean Air Act Attacks

Some of the latest co-sponsors of the Dirty Air Act proposals in Congress include Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Ron Kind (D-WI), and Henry "Hank" Johnson (D-GA), all of whom voted "yes" on the house-passed ACES climate and energy bill drafted by Representatives Waxman (D-CA) and Markey (D-MA).

1Sky is continuing to hold Dirty Air Act representatives accountable for their anti-climate actions with phone calls, emails, and office 'Storms,' calling them out for standing with big polluters over their constituents. Click here to see 1Sky blogs with photos and videos on recent Storms in dozens of states nationwide.

3. Wall Street Reform Bill on the Way

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) moved a financial regulatory reform bill forward in the Senate by holding a cloture vote on Monday. Congressional leaders are still struggling to find definite bipartisan support, but Senator Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) vote in favor of a portion of the bill passed by the Agriculture Committee last week is encouraging and Democratic leaders appear confident that they will get a bill through.

The timing for financial reform is still unclear, but the hope is that a bill will be finished and sent to President Obama's desk by Memorial Day, leaving June and July potentially free for floor debate on a comprehensive climate bill.

4. Earth Day and the Bolivia People's Conference on Climate

On Sunday, thousands of people rallied on the National Mall in Washington, DC as part of a huge celebrity-filled Earth Day celebration focused on building momentum for federal climate legislation.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the White House encouraged Americans to engage in service projects, reiterated the importance of passing comprehensive climate and energy reform this year, and announced $452 million in funding for new "Retrofit Ramp-Up" projects as part of the Recovery Act.

1Sky campaign director Gillian Caldwell explains how the climate movement has turned this year's Earth Day into a Climate Action Day here.

Last week in Cochabamba, Bolivia, tens of thousands of government officials and members of civil society participated in a "People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth," slated as an alternative to the Copenhagen climate talks last December. At the end of the conference, which coincided with Earth Day, participants agreed to bring a call for cutting global greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2020 to the next round of UN talks in Cancun at the end of this year.

An oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico caught fire and sank on Earth Day, providing a grave reminder of current environmental challenges and the risks associated with offshore drilling.

New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) responded to the disaster by reiterating their previously stated opposition to offshore drilling as well as their threat to oppose any climate and energy legislation that expands offshore drilling off the coast of New Jersey.

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

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