Thieves Fall Out

by William Yeatman on May 9, 2008

You may have wondered why there has been no Congressional effort to actually legislate the "global warming" policies that will supposedly save the planet from itself. For six years, the Democratic minority indulged in often nasty rhetoric, with the gist being: We know the problem. We know the solution. Your hearings are a delaying tactic. We. Must. Act. Now!

After winning the majority, Dems muttered for a while about how that mean George Bush would just veto their legi-salvation anyway: Why bother? We'll just work for a bigger majority – and the White House. Though, as I have noted on Planet Gore before, Bush had threatened no veto – and on those occasions since January 2007 when he did threaten a veto, in other policy contexts, the Dems typically took it as a challenge to pass something. So there seemed to be something missing from their political calculation, or at least their public rhetoric.

Today's E&E Daily (subscription required) has a hilarious apologia, "Sponsors lower expectations for Lieberman-Warner bill," offering a walk-through of the phenomenon afflicting our crusaders. Here as in pretty much every country in the world (posturing notwithstanding), global warming is such a grave threat that other people need to "do something." Given the inescapable price tag, lawmakers looked and discovered that anything they propose would actually be doing nothing – besides harming state economies. And if forced to choose, it seems they would prefer it be other states' economies that are harmed.

"The Lieberman-Warner-Boxer camp is facing increasing demands from all corners of the Senate to change the bill that would establish a cap-and-trade system with midcentury emission limits of 70 percent below 2005 levels.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week he was holding out in his support for the Lieberman-Warner bill because it did not do enough to protect his home state's manufacturing jobs while still stimulating investments in alternative energy. "I have serious concerns about any climate-change bill that doesn't take into account energy-intensive industries like we have in Ohio – glass and chemicals and steel and aluminum and foundries," Brown said.

"He's concerned," Brown spokeswoman Joanna Kuebler explained yesterday. "He's leaning toward a no."

Sen. Maria Cantwell [NB: Democrat] of Washington said in an interview that she is also pushing for changes in the Lieberman-Warner bill to benefit her home state's abundant supplies of hydropower. "We want to make sure people who are already good at reducing CO2 emissions will continue to do that and not be penalized," she said. Cantwell explained that she has not joined the bill as a cosponsor because she wants to keep working on it.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he wants a more beneficial emission allocation system for his state's rural energy producers." Obviously, I represent a state that's a significant power producer," Conrad said. "Most people don't think of North Dakota that way. But we produce electricity for nine states. We have the largest coal gasification plant in the country. We have very large reserves of lignite coal." [Meanwhile], Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) maintained that he is a long way from backing the Lieberman-Warner bill. Instead, he is taking a close look at an alternative climate bill circulated from Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) that opens with tax incentives for new energy technologies but falls back on cap and trade if the other ideas have not worked by 2030."

That mean George Bush and those nasty filibustering Republicans are blocking a climate bailout. Or, maybe not so much. As my CEI colleague Myron Ebell characterizes this: thieves fall out when it comes time to split up the loot.

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