As soon as the Senate voted last week to shelve the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, there were lots of people out spinning what that vote meant.
Actually, the vote said very little about where the senators were with respect to this bill – it was more of a statement that they didn’t like how this bill was managed by those on both sides of the aisle.
In fact, there are press accounts of a letter sent to Senate leaders by 10 Democrats who voted in favor of closure on the bill but publicly stated that they would have voted against that bill (in its current form) on final passage. Taking the intentions of those senators into account, it is hard to make the case that there is any momentum to pass a bill like Lieberman-Warner.
That is not to say, “I told you so.” Instead, we’ve been talking about what we think it will take to pass a federal bill that will enact mandatory standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are our thoughts:
First, energy costs play a central role in developing comprehensive climate change legislation. Gasoline costs more than $4 per gallon and the budgets of working families and Americans living on low and fixed incomes are taking a big hit from higher energy prices. Climate legislation must not force consumers to pay unnecessarily higher energy costs.
Second, any policy addressing climate change is inextricably linked to broader U.S. energy security, economic development and environmental goals. We have the opportunity to craft a mandatory greenhouse gas reduction bill that will protect America’s energy security and our domestic economy. In the end, many senators recognized that the Lieberman-Warner bill was not the right legislative vehicle to accomplish these interrelated goals.
Third, substantial bipartisan support is crucial to enacting comprehensive federal climate legislation. This kind of bipartisan support was vital to passing the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the Clean Air Act amendments in 1990—and will be equally important to the ultimate passage of climate legislation.
The Lieberman-Warner debate did serve the important function of focusing the attention of Congress and all Americans on the important work ahead of us. We remain committed to supporting a bill that will achieve greenhouse gas emissions reductions, preserve fuel diversity as a means of protecting energy security, and ensure access to affordable electricity for American consumers. In the months ahead, ACCCE will work with members of Congress and other policymakers to develop reasonable, effective legislative proposals on this important and complex issue.