Senate Climate Bill Invests Big in Transit, Reaps Big Deficit Reduction

As the Copenhagen climate talks reach a turning point, congressional negotiations over emissions cuts are taking a back seat to global debate. But some undeniably good news on the domestic front came late yesterday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Sen_John_Kerry_Discusses_Partnership_China_NaObORtZBHul.jpgJohn Kerry described the Copenhagen talks this week as a motivator for Senate climate action. Photo: Getty

The CBO found that the Senate environment committee’s climate bill, which would nearly triple the House’s investment in clean transportation, would decrease the federal deficit by "about $21 billion" during its first 10 years and result in net spending decreases even after that point.

Environment panel chairman Barbara Boxer was elated by the CBO’s report [PDF], which also attached a $16 billion estimate to the bill’s 10-year funding for transit, land use, bike-ped infrastructure and other green transport.

Boxer said in a statement:

The CBO score shows that there is a way to design a clean
energy and climate bill that is fiscally responsible and gets the job done
– while protecting the health of our families and the planet.

But unfortunately, the money-saving news may not be enough to save the environment committee’s framework, which sparked a GOP boycott and fears that moderate Democrats from coal-dominant states would ultimately withhold their votes.

Boxer’s co-sponsor on the climate bill, Sen. John Kerry, is separately working with Sens. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman on a compromise climate proposal aimed at winning 60 votes in the upper chamber of Congress.

That bill is expected to include new subsidies for nuclear power as well as an emissions cap lower than the environment panel’s version. Whether it maintains a respectable level of support for clean transportation remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Boxer’s GOP counterpart on the committee, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, stopped in Copenhagen for just two hours today to crow that a U.S. climate bill has "zero" chance of winning congressional passage.

  • This just in: Sen. Inhofe was run down by a bicycle and is believed to be brain dead. Doctors are now trying to determine the last time his brain was alive.

  • Deacon

    Typical GOP tosser ….We won’t, we can’t, we didn’t, we haven’t, we shouldn’t, we couldn’t…

    I’m sure there are a ton more, those are the few I got from reading the news today…

    @Mike Walker: I LOL’d!

  • JK

    Inside the Beltway journalists, especially advocacy journalists, need to dispense with words like “moderate” and “centrist.” The normal connotation is that these are virtuous attributes. But what do they actually mean? What is “moderate” about wanting to adamantly protect electric generation based on coal? Suffice that they are Democrats from coal states. They will protect coal jobs until long past the point of absurdity. If they were timber jobs, they’d support clear cutting until the trees were gone.

  • JK, how would you prefer to refer to Democrats who maintain voting records that land smack in the middle between Republican leaders and those of their own party? If “inside the Beltway” journalists used pejorative terms to refer to every senator who ardently protected home-state interests, no one – not even Bernie Sanders or Tom Harkin – would be immune.

  • JK

    Before I jump back into nitpicking word usage, a quick and very big compliment: the DC coverage is excellent, tremendous, comprehensive, coherent. I could go on, but let me return to the nits before I run out of words in the comment box. Democratic senators in particular take a wide range of positions on various policy issues — fiscal, health, labor, enviro etc. So, describing their position on the transportation or environment issue at hand would be more accurate, for instance: “coal state Democrats,” Or, “highway funding oriented” or “anti-transit funding” Democrats etc. No need for pejoratives, just specific descriptions of their positions. I do not buy the national press corps usage of “centrist” etc. To me it makes a positive value judgment without being informative.

  • clever-title

    Not mentioned, of course, is that the government revenues from CO2 allowances is money that will be removed from the rest of the economy. It won’t just be higher motor fuel prices; it will be reflected in higher prices everywhere.

    Bastiat’s “What is Seen and What is Not Seen” should be required reading in DC.
    http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html

  • Ian Turner

    clever-title,

    Did you have a point, or did you just want to seem wise by stating the obvious?

    –Ian

  • clever-title

    From the wording of the post, it certainly doesn’t seem obvious to the suthor.

  • clever-title

    From reading the post, it doesn’t look like it’s that obvious to the author.

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