Jeff Merkley expresses "enormous disappointment" with Harry Reid's climate bill

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

It's been under the radar for a while now, but a big question looming has been the response of the U.S. Senate to the passage of the clean energy and climate change bill passed by the U.S. House. Will the Senate find a way to pass the House bill? Will they pass a more-limited bill that makes important strides to invest in clean energy technologies that reduce carbon emissions? Or will they abandon everything important - and do a few token things?

Well, it looks like the latter. From the L.A. Times:

Senate Democratic leaders shelved plans for major energy and climate legislation on Thursday, bowing to political reality and probably ending hopes for action this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost alternative energy production and wean the nation from carbon fuels.

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada — who had promised to bring a sweeping energy bill with an emissions cap to the Senate floor by the August recess — said he would instead offer a scaled-back bill focused largely on responding to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

And Senator Jeff Merkley isn't happy. In a statement:

This proposed energy and oil spill legislation laid out this afternoon is an enormous disappointment and a huge missed opportunity. Our nation desperately needs a strong energy strategy that creates a million new clean energy jobs and puts us on a path to ending our addiction to overseas oil.

I am convinced that while some particular policy approaches may not be able to get 60 votes, a bill that focuses on those critical outcomes could. Instead of a bold stride, this proposal offers only small steps.

In the restrained language of the U.S. Senate where even your most diabolical opponent is "my good friend, the honorable Senator from...", Merkley's "enormous disappointment" is a powerful statement about Harry Reid's leadership.

It's all the more striking because Merkley's headed to the Netroots Nation conference - held in Reid's home state - on Saturday.

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    Jeff Merkley needs to express "enormous disappointment" with his Dem. peers who won't support any kind of a climate change bill. A boiled down energy bill is the best they can do. Let's face it, there is no groundswell in this economy to deal with climate change.

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    Here's what's so bizarre about it. Yes, the economy is struggling. But the way we work on climate change is to invest billions putting tens of thousands of people to work building a new clean energy economy.

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    This increases the urgency of the work of the Oregon legislature, other state legislatures, and local governments.

    In the 2009 session, utility and corporate lobbyists were pushing us to wait for the national legislation.

    I responded that those people who put a lot of stock in the ability of Congress to tackle the climate crisis hadn't spent a lot of time watching or working with Congress (or, more cynically, knew very well they could kill progress in Congress).

    Time to work to elect John Kitzhaber, Bob Stacey, and pro-environment legislators and push forward.

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    It's gratifying to see that at least on member of the US Senate understands what a grave error it was to abandon a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill. Thank goodness for Jeff Merkley.

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      The so-called comprehensive bill was including $70 bil. giveaway to "clean coal", has embarrasingly paltry goals for CO-2 reduction, denies the EPA's regulation of atmospheric CO-2 (although it doesn't deny the endangerment finding, as the GOP legislation sought to do), and, finally, relies on the doomed cap-and-trade mechanism.

      I'm with Bill McKibben and Dr. James Hansen, who've both said that doing nothing would be better than throwing money and effort after so-called solutions that have no chance of being built and/or solving the problem.

      But I guess it was a jobs bill.

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