Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday surrendered to agriculture interests on a key provision in the massive climate and energy bill he introduced with Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Facing a defection from farm-state Democrats, Politico.com reports that Waxman agreed to change the bill so that "the U.S. Department of Agriculture will oversee the [carbon] offset program for farmers, and the House will seek further guidance from the Obama administration about the appropriate role for the EPA."
Politico further reported that Waxman "agreed to ask the EPA to roll back its new requirements that farmers offset rural land developed in other countries."
The question is not "if" there will be a Senate Gang--that much is guaranteed. The real question is how many members the Gang will have, and how much more they want to concede.
How much better is Collin Peterson on climate change than Peter DeFazio? Collin Peterson now says that he will vote for the climate change bill. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) says that he won't, because the bill doesn't do enough. The League of Conservation Voters has said that it will not endorse any member of Congress who votes against the bill. As such, another pressing question is: how much of a better climate change activist is Collin Peterson than Peter DeFazio?
Snark aside, this is precisely why green groups need to b drawing lines in the sand on the contents of the bill, rather than just its passage. Otherwise, gang bangers like Collin Peterson just end up getting whatever concessions they want. And the same thing will happen in the Senate--only much, much worse because of the 60-votte rule.
Further, rather than focusing exclusively on passage, it is a demonstration of why green groups should primarily be going after those who try to weaken the bill, like Collin Peterson, and reward those who try to strengthen the bill. According to the viewpoint that passing anything is what matters most, Collin Peterson is now a better climate change activist than Peter DeFazio. Those who fight to make the bill better don't matter at all.