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Enviros push Obama on climate bill

The Democratic Senate is in the process of failing to pass a palatable energy bill. So where do environmentalists turn? To Mr. Hope himself, of course. On Friday, a group of prominent environmental advocates sent a letter to the White House pressing President Obama -- gently -- to get more involved in their push to get an energy and climate bill passed.

The Senate needs your help … nothing less than your direct personal involvement, and that of senior administration officials, can secure America's clean energy future. We strongly urge you to produce a bill, in conjunction with key senators, that responds to the catastrophe in the gulf, cuts oil use, and limits carbon pollution. ... We further urge you to work with the Senate to bring that bill to the floor for passage before the August recess. White House leadership is the only path we see to success, just as your direct leadership was critical in the passage of the recovery plan, health care reform, and other administration successes.

The president already seriously angered some enviros with his support for offshore drilling. Mainstream environmentalists such as those who signed this letter, though, have remained pretty respectful, at least publicly. Friday’s letter is a signal that such deference won’t last if the 111th Congress -- the most Democratic we’re likely to see for a very long time -- gavels closed without passing legislation that seriously deals with climate change.

Obama says the right things about limiting carbon emissions, as he did in his first Oval Office address last month. But in the same breath he sounds like he’d be happy just to sign a seriously compromised energy bill. This tactic doesn’t placate many of the enviros I've talked to -- nor, for that matter, me.

Here’s the problem with the enviros’ implicit threat, though. The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act if Congress fails to act. As long as Obama defends his administration’s prerogative to do so, the country could see some significant -- though inefficient -- carbon curbing. The president might reasonably calculate that he can disappoint environmentalists by avoiding a tough political fight over energy legislation before the midterm elections and have a pretty good shot of winning them back after, when the EPA gets to work. Of course, in that case, the best policy -- putting a steadily increasing price on carbon while well funding research and development -- also doesn’t come into force.

Here’s hoping Obama follows the policy -- not the politics.

By  | July 5, 2010; 3:51 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  
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Comments

From my vantage point, there is little support for cap-and-trade. Daily I read editorials, comments and letters-to-the-editor from all over the United States. When the House passed the cap-and-trade bill it was maybe 2-to-1 against cap-and-trade, opinion now is off the charts against it.

Frankly, I don't see Americans supporting cap-and-trade or any CO2 regulation until we have our own 'Climate Truth Commission.' ...and no longer rely upon the climate opinions of the United Nations. The UN is a biased political organization whose climate forecasts haven't proven prescient. The United States needs our own objective, transparent 'climate truth commission' to think-through global warming.

-- Robert Moen, www.energyplanUSA

Posted by: Rmoen | July 5, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

The basic tenet behind cap and trade is to reduce carbon by raising the price until non-carbon energy is "profitable". See Obama's first state of the union address.

In this economy, a purposeful raising of energy cost would be devastating. Unfortunately, it is the linchpin of Obama's transformation of the American economy to a "green" economic system. I wouldn't put it past him to hurt the economy in order to transform it.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | July 5, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

People are out of work. The economy is circling the drain.

Ram an oily rag down the throats of these evil idiot environmentalist wackos.

If they think the planet is heating up, wait till they find out where they're going.

Posted by: thebump | July 6, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Almost every segment of the American public has something to gain from the passage of a comprehensive climate bill. Unfortunately, opponents have been successful in waging a misinformation campaign to scare voters away from endorsing something that is actually in their best interest. It is time to dispel the rumors and finally put the myths to rest.
A cap on carbon will not damage our economy, for example. In fact leading economists, including Paul Krugman and Lawrence Summers, believe that a cap could be pivotal in bringing about an economic recovery and creating thousands of domestic jobs. For those of you who want to set the record straight, check out a blog post by fellow EDFer David Yarnold titled “Five Denier Myths about the Climate & Energy Bill” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-yarnold/five-denier-myths-about-t_b_636239.html.

Posted by: oliviaedf | July 6, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Almost every segment of the American public has something to gain from the passage of a comprehensive climate bill. Unfortunately, opponents have been successful in waging a misinformation campaign to scare voters away from endorsing something that is actually in their best interest. It is time to dispel the rumors and finally put the myths to rest.
A cap on carbon will not damage our economy, for example. In fact leading economists, including Paul Krugman and Lawrence Summers, believe that a cap could be pivotal in bringing about an economic recovery and creating thousands of domestic jobs. For those of you who want to set the record straight, check out a blog post by fellow EDFer David Yarnold titled “Five Denier Myths about the Climate & Energy Bill” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-yarnold/five-denier-myths-about-t_b_636239.html.

Posted by: oliviaedf | July 6, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Almost every segment of the American public has something to gain from the passage of a comprehensive climate bill. Unfortunately, opponents have been successful in waging a misinformation campaign to scare voters away from endorsing something that is actually in their best interest. It is time to dispel the rumors and finally put the myths to rest.
A cap on carbon will not damage our economy, for example. In fact leading economists, including Paul Krugman and Lawrence Summers, believe that a cap could be pivotal in bringing about an economic recovery and creating thousands of domestic jobs. For those of you who want to set the record straight, check out a blog post by fellow EDFer David Yarnold titled “Five Denier Myths about the Climate & Energy Bill” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-yarnold/five-denier-myths-about-t_b_636239.html.

Posted by: oliviaedf | July 6, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, we have plenty of republicans ready, as always, to trash the planet in pursuit of profits. As long as carbon based fuels are "cheap" - AND subsidized - there will be no incentive to ever get off them, even though our continued importation of vast quantities of oil is both an national security as well as economic issue for our country. But of course, republicans can only think to the end of the next quarter. Obama does need to push this, but I doubt he will. He has been the most disappointing Democratic president in my lifetime in terms of the environment.

Posted by: Pearl77 | July 6, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

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