photo via flickr
The New York Times editorial page is calling on the Senate and President Obama to use the BP oil spill to pass comprehensive climate and energy reform that would reduce our dependance on dirty fuels like oil and coal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems to have a similar idea, signaling the other day that he intends to push the Senate climate bill, championed by Sens. Kerry and Lieberman, in the beginning of July. Obama too seems ready to force the bill through, saying in a speech at Carnegie Mellon University last week that the time for action is now. Obama:
"The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months. I will make the case for a clean energy future wherever I can, and I will work with anyone from either party to get this done."
Writes the Times:
The Senate bill is far from perfect. It coddles the coal companies, and its provisions for off-shore drilling will now have to be revised or at least tightened up with multiple safeguards. But for the first time, the bill would set a price on carbon-dioxide emissions, which are now dumped without penalty into the atmosphere. This is an essential prerequisite for shifting private and public investment to cleaner energy sources.
The oil savings would be substantial. According to a new study by the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, the bill's mandates for alternative fuels and more efficient vehicles would reduce oil imports one-third by 2035.
But instead of embracing this positive bill, the Senate is expected to vote soon on a measure that would move the country in exactly the wrong direction -- a resolution sponsored by Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican, that would undercut the government's authority to regulate greenhouse gases and reduce the anticipated oil savings from the tough new fuel economy standards the White House announced last April.
The referenced bill from Sen. Murkowski would strip the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, a right recognized by the Supreme Court. The curtailing of its authority would make leave the EPA feckless and would elevate the roll of Congress in attacking climate change, something it has been unwilling to do. A vote on Murkowski language is said to be on June 10.
The Senate climate bill would reduce climate change-related emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050.