See You Next Year

After several days of no real substantive discussion of climate change on the Senate floor but a great deal of posturing by opponents, Senate Leader, Harry Reid has scheduled a vote this morning to cut off debate before Senators return to their states for the weekend. It is unlikely that supporters will get the 60 votes required to end debate but, for symbolic purposes, they are hoping to get at least 50. Among the disinformation advanced this week by opponents is the charge that climate change legislation would raise gas prices. Most climate change proposals including Lieberman Warner, by placing a cap on carbon emissions, would increase the price of power from dirty coal plants and goods from dirty factories. However, the caps are placed only on industrial facilities, not on consumers or on tailpie emissions so gas prices would increase nominally if at all.

While the debate covered little substance, it did serve the purpose of drawing out opposition arguments and highlighting key issues that must be addressed next year for the legislation to pass. In particular, the block of Senators from coal states, Democrats as well as Republicans not only from large producers such as as West Virginia and Kentucky but also from Ohio and even North Dakota will seek support for clean coal to ease the impact on their economies. This relief would mostly take the form of money for carbon sequestration technologies or economic assistance to coal regions to help with a transition towards cleaner, renewable power.

The other result of this year's floortime will be to get Senators on record regarding climate change. Polls show that people are ahead of legislators on the climate issue and those Senators who vote against the legislation may well hear about it in their districts.