Photo via Chesapeake Climate
By now, it's common knowledge that a climate bill's journey through the Senate is going to be excruciating. There are blowhard senators who vow it will fail, seemingly fewer dedicated proponents, and a slew of senators who can at best be described as exhibiting extreme unease. Providing concrete evidence of the scale of this last faction, 10 democratic senators have signed a warning letter to Obama threatening not to vote on the climate bill if industry in their states isn't adequately protected.From the New York Times:
A group of 10 moderate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday saying that they will not support any domestic climate change bill that did not protect American industries from competition from countries that did not impose similar restraints on climate-altering gases.The senators who signed are all from states whose economies are dependent on polluting industries. They're worried that a climate bill would increase costs of goods like steel, cement, aluminum, etc, and would drive jobs overseas--so essentially, the 10 Dems are seeking a tariff to be imposed on polluting countries who trade with the United States. Obama has expressed distaste for this idea, worrying that it would send a 'protectionist' message. (Plus, imposing such a tariff on a polluting country like China that imports massive amounts of cheap goods would likely end up damaging other areas of our own economy as well. Can you say Wal-Mart?)
They specifically asked for the bill to cut heavy industries a break in the for of rebates, among other things:
The senators called for transition assistance for energy-intensive manufacturers in the form of rebates on their energy costs; negotiation of a strong international agreement on emissions; programs to monitor emissions in other countries and significant funding for clean energy technology. The authors also said steeper tariffs on goods from countries that do not agree to an international regime of carbon dioxide reductions were "critical to ensuring that climate change legislation will be trade neutral and environmentally effective."It's a pretty tall order.
And the signers?
Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin of Michigan; Robert P. Casey and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania; Robert C. Byrd and John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia; Evan Bayh of Indiana; Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and Al Franken of Minnesota.The only one that surprised me here was Franken--seeing as how so many were worried he'd be some loudmouthed bleeding-heart liberal, this is a pretty moderate position. And these 10 moderates are crucial--without them, frankly, the bill doesn't have a chance in hell of passing. Note that the letters states that they all feel strongly about addressing climate change, but that industry needs to be protect while doing so. Read the letter for yourself, via the NY Times (pdf).