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Highlights, lowlights and strategy in the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham climate bill


Juliet Eilperin offers a bullet-pointed list of 10 highlights (and Brad Plumer comments). She also previews the political strategy, which is heavy on demonstrating industry support.

The Edison Electric Institute -- whose members generate the bulk of the nation's electricity -- and two of its influential CEOs, Exelon's John Rowe and Duke Energy's Jim Rogers, will declare their support Monday, sources said. Although Kerry did not name the three oil companies, a source familiar with the negotiations said Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips would back the climate measure.

Winning over business interests who face regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, Graham said Thursday, is essential to enlisting Republican support for the proposal. "The goal is to have the business community come forward and say, 'This is a better solution to the EPA,' " he said.

This all seems a bit sketchy. If the point is reducing the use of fossil fuels, then any bill that's acceptable to people who build their chateaus using profits from selling fossil fuels is probably a pretty weak bill. But it's hard to believe our political system is capable of a good bill right now, so maybe some kind of a start is about the best we can do. And we're at least seeing an important political dynamic clarified: It seems clear that the quality of the bill is entirely dependent on the credibility of the EPA's threat to take autonomous action. So it may be time to double down on that.

Photo credit: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 26, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Next: You wouldn't like Lindsey Graham when he's angry


"If the point is reducing the use of fossil fuels, then any bill that's acceptable to people who build their chateaus using profits from selling fossil fuels is probably a pretty weak bill."

Well, not necessarily, if the bill (a) encompasses subsidies for alternative energies which funnels tax payer money to the oil and electric companies, no matter how those alternatives actually perform and/or (b)creates a regulatory structure that forces other businesses and/or individuals to spend more money on services or products (non-fossil fuel) offered by oil and electric companies. For example, such a bill might define a structure that makes such companies permanent carbon offset profiteers, so they might get special terms or be able to participate as profit-partners of credit clearing houses . . . there's lots of ways for those companies to fleece customers (and the tax payers) that would allow them to reduce the use of fossil fuels (in America, anyway, as they suck money from American tax payers, but increase sales to China and India).

Not that that is how it's going to work, but I can certainly envision such a scenario.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 26, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Is immigration reform going to scuttle the climate bill?

Posted by: jduptonma | April 26, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Uh, Ezra, did you totally miss the news about Graham bailing on the bill? Not sure of the relevance of something written on Friday...

Posted by: gocowboys | April 26, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

i've gotta side with jduptonma and gocowboys.

I first saw this and said, what? I thought the goings on in Arizona put this all on the back burner?

And can we finish FinReg first too? That's just starting and we're already going here???

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 26, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

As low as the Senate is in my esteem, I do think they can handle multiple things at once, so long as one of them is FinReg. Don't laugh, I really do. I feel as if it has a ton of momentum and there is so much political gain to be made from doing something about it, that it is almost going to happen so long as no one botches Coakley-style. (Now, if you want to get a tougher bill that really, really changes the system - well, that will take a lot more effort and I don't see it happening.)

Speaking of energy policy: anyone see the "5 myths" piece on green energy yesterday? Thoughts?

Posted by: gocowboys | April 26, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

why do people keep calling this a threat to regulate gases by the EPA? it's not a threat at all. it literally has to happen or the federal government will get sued by any and all states (possibly individuals) and held liable for the erosion of the coastline. EPA hasn't got a choice in the matter. they can drag their heels, but people could probably sue if they did that too.


Posted by: masterlevitt | April 26, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The EPA does have to regulate greenhouse gases absent Congressional action. And there are many businesses that would suffer if we don't moderate climate change. Most businesses see regulation as inevitable, and welcome to the extent that it provides some certainty and does not allow irresponsible and immoral companies to continue to have a competitive advantage.

In the days before the Bush-Cheney regime gutted all federal regulatory agencies it was pretty common for enlightened business leaders to support more regulation than one might have expected. And to want to have a real hand in shapoing it so they could live with it.

I knew climate change was a real problem when insurance companies started to worry about it. That was some time ago. At some point you are going to see the GOP be told by many businesses to lay off the denial stuff so something can be done. Graham understands that the GOP is losing the younger demographic on this issue like it is losing Latinos on immigration. Too many others are too old and/or shortsided to care.

Posted by: Mimikatz | April 26, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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