Sanders blasts emerging climate change bill

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 16:24

Kate Sheppard reports on Senator Bernie Sanders blasting the emerging climate change bill:

Sanders is particularly worried about a proposed provision that would nullify existing state programs to limit emissions. Vermont is among those states that have paved the way for national carbon regulations, and the bill would remove the ability of states to set tougher restrictions on carbon dioxide than those passed by the federal government. Sanders describes this as "a huge mistake," writing that "we should definitely set a floor, but not a ceiling." He also expresses reservations about new loan guarantees for nuclear power, expanded offshore drilling, and the bill's likely giveaways to coal. "I do not want to see a global warming bill become an bonanza for the coal industry," he writes.

Sanders is also worried about what's not in the outline of the bill that the senators are circulating. In particular, he thinks that their plan doesn't do enough to promote energy efficiency, develop a renewable energy industry, and provide incentives for green jobs.

At the end of the article, Joe Lieberman brushes off the threat of any left-wing revolt on the bill, stating that Senators will fall in line as long as the bill is viewed as an improvement on the status quo, however minor.

A Lieberman versus Sanders conflict is particularly notable, as history tells us there are reasons to respect threats from both Senators:

  1. When Lieberman demanded that the Medicare buy-in get stripped from the Senate bill back in December, Rahm Emanuel showed up in Harry Reid's office the same day and demanded that Democratic Senators cave to Lieberman.  A whole lot of green groups, who want a bill at almost any cost, will be playing the role of Emanuel this time around.

  2. Then again, despite Lieberman having the backing of the administration, Sanders did still hold out on supporting the health reform bill until he got a big concession: almost doubling the annual funding for the federal Community Health Center system, which will allow it to handle another 17-18 million patients annually.  He also has proven willing to stand in the way of the Obama administration before, putting a hold on Ben Bernanke and voting against the Wall Street bailout.
Given recent history, there is good reason to suspect that left-wing Democratic members of Congress will simply fold  and support a bill that is a marginal improvement on the status quo.  Then again, there are some members of the Senate, most notably Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold, who have frequently proven themselves unwilling to fold without at least receiving some sort of important concession.

To put it a different way, there would be every reason to not take left-wing criticisms of the climate bill seriously if they were coming from almost anyone in the Senate except Bernie Sanders.

Chris Bowers :: Sanders blasts emerging climate change bill

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I can't tell what's in this bill (0.00 / 0)
Is there anything left to be interested in?

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

IDK (0.00 / 0)
Haven't seen the bill.  Its all happening behind closed doors.

[ Parent ]
My speculation (4.00 / 1)
I'd be surprised if there is anything substantial in the bill besides the "energy security" kinds of things that were in the last Senate bill, and some further restrictions on government power to regulate industry.

I don't mind the energy security stuff, and there is a chance of using some conservation programs and green energy stuff as a vehicle for more effective economic stimulus. However, given what we have seen in the past, I resent it being called a "climate" bill. A real climate bill would stop coal, which is pretty much the one and only thing that will reduce negative impacts from climate change.

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

[ Parent ]
Status Quo (4.00 / 5)
In the health care debate I often brought up the status quo and how even the pure Senate bill was much better.

For climate change the calculus is completely different.  We already have the EPA required and empowered to regulate carbon.  In my opinion, the progressive #1 priority must be to maintain that empowerment or replace it with something that is clearly and obviously better.  Even if the regulation that passes doesn't take away the EPA's ability, I think it is save to assume Obama would have the EPA step aside in order to let the new regulation, tax plan, etc. take effect.

I hadn't thought about state's roles in this, but it seems a similar logic might apply, though to a far lessor extent.  (For most states, at least.)

Susan Collins wants to attach her bill.... (0.00 / 0) an appropriations bill.  Her bill sounds a lot better than this crap, although I don't know the specifics.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

does she leave EPA to regulate? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Sanders will get a few concessions at the margin, then fold. (0.00 / 0)
In the case of the Community Health Centers, it's likely the funding would have been in the bill without Sanders' support. It's just a fact that you need a certain number of CHCs to provide care for 16 million new Medicaid enrollees, to prevent patients from showing up the ER for primary care. Even Republican proposals have had money for CHCs.

even Lieberman's bill might be a huge improvement (0.00 / 0)
We have to look at the bill, but even Lieberman's bill might be a HUGE improvement over what we have now.  Establishing a price on carbon is necessary to start slowing down climate change, and the Lieberman bill should do that.  Plus, it's MUCH better to have such changes in regulation rather than by administrative action - it's MUCH harder to change that way.  A comprehensive climate change bill should "cover the field", so you wouldn't want EPA to regulate greenhouse gases in a way that wasn't in the bill.

But, Sanders of course has a point as well - the giveaways to the coal, oil, and nuclear industries will likely suck.  So, there will be lots of room to improve the bill, however it comes out.


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