Boxer Delays Senate Climate Bill Until September

This was supposed to be a big week for action on climate change in the Senate — but it’s ending with Republicans rubbing their hands in glee as the Environment and Public Works Committee delays its unveiling of legislation on carbon emissions.

070619_boxer.jpgSenate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP)

As Reuters reports this afternoon:

[Environment committee chairman] Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said her self-imposed deadline of early August for finishing writing a
bill to combat global warming has been put off until after Congress
returns from a recess that ends in early September.

"We’ll do it as soon as we get back" from that break, Boxer told
reporters. Asked if this delay jeopardizes chances the Senate will pass
a bill this year, Boxer said, "Not a bit … we’ll be in (session)
until Christmas, so I’m not worried about it."

But Boxer did not guarantee Congress will be able to finish a bill
and deliver it to Obama by December, when he plans to attend an
international summit on climate change in Copenhagen.

Just two weeks ago, Boxer advised supporters of transportation reform to "work with me on my global warming bill" as she called for a quick rescue of the nation’s highway trust fund.

The highway account is expected to run dry in mid-August, sending Congress and the Obama administration scurrying to find $20 billion to keep state-level road projects funded until the end of 2010.

Boxer’s postponement of a climate debate in her committee may well be an acknowledgment of the challenge lawmakers are facing to rustle up that $20 billion by month’s end — especially given that House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) is refusing to budge on his commitment to a new transportation bill this year. The delay in climate may also be driven by the uncertainty surrounding a global pact on emissions reduction.

No matter what, however, the environmental news out of the Senate today is not good.

  • Au contraire, the news that Senate Democrats will wait till summer’s end to introduce a climate bill is terrific news. It creates potential political space to move away from the disastrous Waxman-Markey House bill and toward a viable approach, as climatologist James Hansen outlined this morning.

  • Another point of view about James Hansen’s remarks:

    his arguments need debunking because he is mostly recycling myths that others are pushing — and with the country’s top climate scientist putting his name on this collection of false and misleading statements, they will no doubt be parroted by yet more people. Hansen has just written, “G-8 Failure Reflects U.S. Failure on Climate Change” for The Huffington Post.

    Let me go straight to his needlessly (and pointlessly) provocative attacks on the “counterfeit climate bill known as Waxman-Markey,” which is filled with right-wing and left-wing myths — and very little understanding of the basics of either this bill or cap-and-trade systems.

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/07/09/nasas-james-hansen-pushes-false-misleading-and-pointless-attack-on-u-s-climate-action/

  • Charles (Siegel) — Sorry to see you’ve drunk the cap-and-trade kool-aid. My Carbon Tax Web site has been critiquing cap-and-trade for two-and-a-half years, maybe you should have a look.

  • Charlie: I have read your web site, and I have written a paper myself saying a carbon tax is better than cap and trade: http://www.preservenet.com/studies/CarbonTaxShift.html But the technical merits of these two systems are not the issue now. The issues are:

    Political will: Congress does not have the political will to make strong enough short-term cuts in emissions, ACES is cutting emissions by only 17% by 2020. Hansen assumes that shifting from cap-and-trade to a carbon tax will instantly give congress the political will to adopt stronger policies, but it obviously will not. If a carbon tax could be passed, it would be as weak as the cap and trade, and it would have the same complexities to accommodate regional interests.

    Political feasibility: If cap and trade is killed, it will be years before a new carbon tax bill is put together. That means the world will not be able to negotiate a treaty in Copenhagen in December, and there will be a long delay before the world begins to reduce emissions. We cannot afford that delay, since scientists agree that emissions must peak by 2015 to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees C.

    I admire your work on the carbon tax, but I think it is time to face reality and admit that cap and trade is the only game in town – the only way to start reducing emissions in the near to mid-term future.

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