Image via Motivated Photos
Well, the waiting game is over. Questions swirling around what the whittled-down climate and clean energy legislation would look like -- Will it go after utilities' carbon emissions? Will it mandate clean energy production? -- have turned out to be moot. You see, the Democrats have opted for another approach, perhaps one inspired by Republicans' recent energy ideas: Do nothing. Yes, the New York Times reports that there will be no climate legislation at all this year. From the Times:
After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards.Which probably means the bill will consist of an effort to remove the oil spill liability cap, tighten offshore drilling regulations, and include the Home Star bill that I discussed yesterday.
It also means that the year-and-a-half crusade towards climate legislation has ended in utter failure.
"We know where we are," Harry Reid said, according to the Times. "We don't have the votes." So who's to blame? Well, guess who Reid wants to pin it on?
At a news conference, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, blamed Republicans for refusing to cooperate. "We don't have a single Republican to work with us," Mr. Reid said.It's true that the GOP has been absurdly obstructionist on the subject of energy reform. But this is more than Republican's fault -- Democrats and president Obama deserve a share of the blame for allowing the debate to be hijacked, much the way the conversation about health care reform was. They allowed cap and trade to be branded as an energy tax, shrank away from even mentioning climate change, and caved time and again to demands from the polluting industries. They were pushovers.
They never tried to properly explain climate legislation to the public, never made a solid case for it -- even though polls consistently found that the public was in favor of such legislation. Obama was woefully mum on the subject. And they could find no way to link the BP spill to a need to curb oil dependence, even when it was right under their noses.
This failure is pretty devastating. In November, the GOP is likely to recapture many seats in both the House and the Senate, making good climate legislation even more unlikely, especially if the party continues its science-bucking lines. It may literally be years now before we can pass legislation that addresses climate change. And all this on the heels of news that China -- China, the most pollution-happy nation on the planet -- has announced plans for a domestic cap and trade system to restrict its own carbon emissions.
I may be tending towards hyperbole today, out of frustration. Yet it's almost fair to say that Obama and the Democrats have just failed not only the many constituents who are eager to see the United States clean up its energy act and lead the world in reducing carbon emissions -- but for now, they've also failed the future generations who still stand to be impacted by the worst of climate change.
More on the Climate Bill
Climate Bill Chaos: WTF is Going On?
Yes, We Can Afford Clean Energy & Climate Legislation