Another Climate Update: Are Moderates Coming Aboard?

As Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham get ready to release their version of a climate bill, negotiations with moderate Democrats are heating up. Ten Democrats, apparently let by Sherrod Brown and Debbie Stabenow released a letter outlining what they call “key provisions for a manufacturing” package as part of an overall bill. Here are some highlights the Senators’ wish list:

Investments in clean energy manufacturing and low carbon industrial technologies.

Ensuring law energy costs for manufacturers, including a “firm price collar”

A phase-in for regulation of GHG emissions from manufacturing

Allowance rebates for energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries

Tariffs on imports from countries without comparable GHG regulatory regimes

Preemption of state GHG regulation

If Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham can actually bring these Senators along, they will have come a long way towards getting a bill passed. However, there are still a number of moderate to conservative Democrats who have not signed this letter and whose support is by no means a sure thing. 

Similarly, one wonders what kind of Republican support there will be, if any. One thing is clear, if a bill is enacted, President Obama and the Congressional leadership are going to owe a big debt to Senator Graham. If he stays on board, it’s hard to see how Senators such as Collins and Snowe don’t sign on as well. 

Environmentalists are the ones who may have to be dragged across the finish line, assuming that final legislation includes preemption, support for nuclear energy and clean coal, a phase-in for manufacturing compliance and, perhaps, off-shore drilling.

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