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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Republicans Undermining Climate Legislation

President Barack Obama, supports climate and energy legislation, however, with just days remaining on the Senate's summer schedule, he does have the support he needs to get the bill through the Senate.

The authors of the latest version of the climate and energy legislation, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), are continuing negotiations with the utility trade group Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

There are many good reasons to get behind comprehensive energy legislation. Last year, Research findings released by the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California showed that comprehensive clean energy legislation would create up to 1.9 million new jobs, increase yearly household income by up to $1,175 and boost annual GDP by up to $111 billion by 2020.

In a bid to gain Republican approval, the draft bill now being considered is a small scale version of the original comprehensive energy reform that passed in the House. To gain wider GOP approval, senators Kerry and Lieberman have adopted a much more modest approach that limits cap-and-trade to utilities.

The proposed new cap-and-trade provision would tax carbon dioxide emissions produced by coal-fired power plants and other large polluters to reduce global warming causing pollution. The idea initially appeared to win a critical Republican endorsement from Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe after she attended a White House meeting.

It was not that long ago that many Republicans publicly endorsed cap-and-trade. The list of Republican senators who previously supported cap-and-trade includes John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Scott Brown (R-Mass.). Today you would have a better chance of finding a black man at a tea party convention then finding a Republican who will laud cap-and-trade.

With less than two weeks remaining before a month-long recess, strident opposition from Republicans like Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) make the passage of what Republicans are calling the "national energy tax" unlikely.

"Anybody that's been in the Senate for any period of time knows there's no way -- no way -- that an energy bill is going to get done between now and the election, or for that matter, between now and the end of this year," Voinovich said. "Cap and trade is dead, OK?" he added.

Their motivations are clear, rather than do what is best for America, Republican lawmakers are playing politics.
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