Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Senators Announce Half-Assed Energy Reform Bill

Cross-posted from Treehugger and AlterNet

It’s been in the works for some time now, but the much-discussed “energy only” climate bill has been unveiled by senators Dick Lugar (R-IN) and George Voinovich (R-OH). Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has been working on more substantive legislation, calls this kind of approach “half-assed”, as it would only provide subsidies to incentivize nuclear and energy development. It would do little do address emissions and global climate change, however — here’s what it would do.

From the Wonk Room:
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), both of whom have admitted the threat of global warming, today announced “a narrower competing bill” that resembles the weak legislation passed out of the Senate energy committee last year … an energy-only bill that would mandate new renewable and nuclear power production without imposing cuts on carbon emissions
The reasoning is that this bill is obviously easier to pass (though given the GOP’s current attitude cooperating with Dems to accomplish anything, it still might be a struggle . . .). It eschews all that ugly business of holding big polluters accountable for their greenhouse gas pollution, and instead would encourage the development of renewable energy and nuclear power. This would be wholly inadequate in addressing climate change — the fossil fuel industry would be able to go right on polluting unabated.
The problem with this thing isn’t that it’s a bad idea in and of itself — it’s just that it is in no way a real solution. And if this bill gets taken up, it probably means the serious bill, Kerry-Graham-Lieberman, doesn’t. To complicate things even further, there’s a third bill in the mix: a climate-only bill with weak reduction targets designed by senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Brad Johnson explains why this is trouble:
These senators are participating in a complex dance — if President Obama and the public throw their weight behind real action, then these senators can take credit when elements of their bills appear in the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman legislation. However, if momentum stalls under the weight of polluter lobbying and Beltway indifference to the climate crisis, they can instead say they offered a “pragmatic” alternative.Unfortunately, such political insurance only covers elected politicians, not people living in the real world.
If only people in the real world cared enough about averting the climate crisis to put enough pressure on those dallying politicians to actually get something done .

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As Jim Hightower explains it, is that “the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans possess more net worth today than the bottom 90 percent of us combined. Worse, these privileged few and their political henchmen have structured a new economic ‘normal’ of long-term joblessness, low wages, no benefits or worker rights, miserly public services, and a steadily widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us.” We must restore sanity to this nation.