02 October 2009

High Water Mark

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) explains that the Senate bill being considered in her Committee is probably as good as it is going to get from an environmental perspective:

Boxer also acknowledged that the climate bill does not have enough votes to pass right now in the Senate, adding that she will work to change that. "We're gaining ground, but at this point I can't count to 60," she said. "But you just do your job and move forward."

To win votes, Kerry and Boxer have said they are willing to make compromises, and Boxer reiterated that in her interview, suggesting that the current target of reducing U.S. greenhouse gases 20 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels could change.

"I can't predict the end game," she said, adding that she is confident her panel will produce an ambitious bill but that it might change as it moves through the Senate. "This is the environment committee, not the pollution committee. . . . This should be the high-water mark."

I wonder if the bill could get bad enough that major environmental groups drop their support. They've come this far, so I doubt it.


  1. If we pass a bad law on climate, it is singularly unlikely that a stronger one will be passed during Obama's presidency. There would have to be some significant intervening event. I doubt that an international climate treaty counts as such.

    To the extent that environmental groups are prepared to rally behind a bill even worse than the present one, they are being politically foolish. They should torpedo the current bill and try again in a few years, after an international climate treaty has been signed, and another few years of environmentally indoctrinated youth have entered the electorate.

    I've interpreted the left to be doing exactly this on health care. By promising to campaign against a health care bill that lacks a public option, they are likely to peel off enough far left votes to prevent a health care bill from passing this congress. Although the 2010 elections may not be favorable (especially if no health care bill is passed), they will get the chance to try again later; the continuing deterioration of the US health car system will see to that.

    Climate change is an even more obvious choice for delayed action. While failure to pass a health care bill will hurt during 2010, failure to pass a climate bill will have minimal impact.

    If environmental groups continue to back this bill, I see the following happening:

    1. The bill will result in little or no change to business as usual emissions through 2020.

    2. Without the support of the word's second largest emitter, Copenhagen and its successors will prove unable to agree on aggressive, binding targets.

    3. Having already passed a bill (and handed out vast amounts of pork in the process) there will be little or no appetite for further reductions until 2020 comes close.

    In short, if this bill passes serious work on reducing emissions will either have to wait an extra decade, or be rebooted.

    While a reboot of the international climate effort would very likely be a good thing, I think that a decade of interminable process and delay in which nobody ever admits failure is more likely, by which point it may be hard for anybody to believe in the process. (sort of like the Palestinian peace process)

    But look on the bright side, you'll be able to quote Joe Romm about how great the Markey bill is for the next ten years.

  2. The following was very predictable and mirrors what is planned in the UK. Can you imagine environmentalists suppoting nuclear power without the Co2 circus ? Germany banned it as I posted recently.

    US energy bill backs nuclear industry

    The US nuclear energy industry is set to receive significant support for building new reactors, research and development, and training more highly-skilled staff under the Democratic climate change bill introduced to the Senate this week.


  3. Let's see . . . we have a flawed climate bill that won't get any better and doesn't have the votes to pass.

    Well that should make us all happy. Saved by the flaws and the lack of votes.

  4. Dr. Pielke,

    I thought you and your father might be interested in my latest debunking of the current ice melt hysteria.

    I have no doubt that the current ice melt media frenzy -- the latest in the series of self described pure propaganda -- is directly related to the proposed legislative tyranny.

    That tyranny is of the lawyers, by the lawyers and for the lawyers (and the Dems the lawyers purchase with their ill-gotten bounties).