Final Thoughts on a Dead Climate Bill


Photo via the Guardian

I know I've ranted and raved a fair amount about the ignominious death of comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation. But lest we all head into our weekends wholly downtrodden and helpless-feeling, a few more words need to be uttered before the casket is lowered into the ground for good (am I getting carried away with this metaphor, here?). Here are some important final thoughts on the demise of the climate bill -- and where we can and should go from here. The battle isn't over
This is true in more ways than one -- first, it is unlikely but possible that some form of carbon-pricing legislation could surface next year, from entirely different tack and framing.

Second, reports are coming in that the EPA's Supreme Court-approved ability to regulate greenhouse gases is already again coming under fire. Senator Murkowski's effort to strip the EPA of that power was already defeated, but climate action opponents are regrouping to try again. If they succeed, we will literally have no mechanism left by which to deal with carbon emissions, and the United States may as well not even acknowledge that global warming exists -- our policies will so bluntly disregard it. This ability must be protected at all costs.

Don't make Obama the scapegoat
I know Obama has been the target of scorn from a lot of green writers and pundits -- myself included; I included him as one of the 7 things that killed the climate bill -- but he's not ultimately to blame. He was ineffectual, yes. But he's already shown that he does support climate action, he understands global warming, and he's entirely receptive to clean energy policy. He just couldn't get the job done -- and for that, his legacy may suffer.

The Republicans, 'centrist' Democrats, and fossil fuel interests, on the other hand, are directly responsible for obstructing climate progress. They were generally unproductive, misleading, and willfully dishonest about the costs and impacts climate legislation would have. They opposed any and all efforts to curb carbon, and offered no alternative ideas to those proposed. What they did to prevent climate action over the last couple years was simply and absolutely morally bankrupt.

We're in big trouble, but much can be done
There's no way around this sentiment. Democrats have failed -- our politicians have failed. Given the current political landscape, it may be years before meaningful climate legislation can surface again. Europe is tightening its carbon regulation. China is beginning a carbon-trading scheme of its own, and is outspending us on clean energy development by huge margins. The United States did nothing. A global treaty will be much, much harder to produce and enact now.

But much can be done -- state-level regulations and trading schemes can be put into place, or continue to operate. As mentioned above, the EPA can go about regulating the dirties polluters. Climate activists must continue calling for change. And as far as policy is concerned, above all, Republican and moderate Democrats can be persuaded that the greatest problem facing mankind is very real, and very much worth addressing. One can only hope that science can be disregarded only so long before reality can no longer be ignored.

One can only hope.

More on the Death of the Climate Bill
The 7 Things That Killed the Climate Bill
It's Official: The Climate Bill is Dead

Tags: Barack Obama | Congress | Global Climate Change | United States