The Senate turns to global warming
Health-care reform is sucking up a lot of oxygen lately, and what attention is going to global warming is directed at Copenhagen, but there have also been some big developments in the Senate's efforts to agree on an approach to climate change. Brad Plumer explains:
Yesterday, John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman unveiled an outline of their "tri-partisan" climate legislation. You can see the rough framework here. As expected, it's similar to the House climate bill, only with more subsidies for coal, nuclear and offshore drilling. Given that Graham, a conservative Republican, seems fairly committed to hammering out a deal, most of the Senate momentum is behind this bill right now. At a news conference, Lieberman said, "there are well over 60 votes in play in the Senate — not that we have 60 votes yet."
But it's also not the only bipartisan bill in town anymore: This morning, Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell and Maine Republican Susan Collins introduced their own legislation, a concept known as "cap-and-dividend." In this system, pollution permits would be auctioned off to upstream fuel producers (oil wells, gas fields) and the proceeds would be largely rebated back to consumers (families would receive monthly checks that would average about $1,100 a year). You can read a fuller explanation of that bill here. It doesn't have the support that Kerry-Graham-Lieberman has, but it does have some interesting backers, including ExxonMobil and lefty green groups such as Friends of the Earth. The decisive question, though, is what coal-state senators think of the dividend approach — they've long pushed for permit giveaways in cap-and-trade because they're worried that their states will be disproportionately affected; if they won't stand for a full auction, it's hard to see this bill getting very far.
Photo credit: By Alex Wong/Getty Images
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