Now that health care legislation has passed, the question is whether passage of the health care bill will unleash a cascade of other legislation, including a climate change bill, or whether Congress will be so exhausted and so polarized that nothing else will happen. I lean to the former position, but only time will tell. One positive indication was Senator Graham’s statement that, notwithstanding his views on the health care bill, he will continue to work towards passage of a climate change bill. Another shout out seems in order for Senator Graham.
The second positive indicator is the chorus of concern recently voiced by environmental groups about the direction in which climate legislation seems to be heading. If the Center for Biological Diversity is expressing grave concern, I suspect that negotiations are probably about where they need to be for a bill to pass. The concern expressed most recently by environmental groups is that the Senate negotiations appear to be headed towards inclusion of language preempting both state regulation and EPA regulation under existing Clean Air Act authority – both of which seem to me to be no-brainers.
I’m sure that the CBD truly is appalled at the idea of preemption; I hope that the more mainstream environmental groups are more practical and will simply use their opposition as a bargaining chip. While I’m not really in the prognostication business, I’d be about willing to guarantee that there won’t be a bill unless there is preemption language.
Another issue that’s jumped up on the radar screen is off-shore drilling, with a number of Senators indicating that it has to be part of a bill, while 10 Democrats have written to Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman indicating that they may not be able to support a climate change bill that provided for increased off-shore drilling.
Finally, E&E Daily reported that Obama staffers, including Carol Browner, met with Senate Democrats yesterday to discuss ways to move Senate legislation in April. The report indicates that Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman hope to draft a bill in the next few weeks. I don’t think we’re going to see the Senate pass a bill any time soon, but it does look as though things are starting to move.