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From: Bart (129.171.32.13)
Subject:         Sentate Republicans Kill Climate Change Bill
Date: June 6, 2008 at 4:38 pm PST

Senate GOP Kills Climate Change Bill

Friday 06 June 2008

by: Christopher Kuttruff


On Friday, the Senate set aside a bill to combat climate change after failing to gather the 60 votes necessary to move the legislation forward. The bill, S.3036, was proposed by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and John Warner (R-Virginia) to fight the country's massive level of carbon emissions. The legislation would instate a cap-and-trade system to gradually decrease US emissions by two percent a year for an ultimate 2050 goal of emissions 66 percent below 2005 levels.

While certain organizations assert that the legislation is too weak, the overall support for the bill by environmental groups is overwhelming.

The bill failed on the Senate floor after a variety of partisan maneuvers to stall debate and an eventual vote.

Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said in a statement, "Every credible scientist and expert believes action is necessary. This is critical and long-overdue legislation that represents a good first step in addressing one of the most serious problems facing our generation."

Stressing that the bill "was not perfect," Senator Obama went on to say that the legislation could have been improved with further discussion, but instead "the Republican leadership in the Senate has chosen to block progress, rather than work in a good faith manner to address this challenge."

President Bush threatened to veto the Lieberman-Warner bill if it came to his desk, and Republicans in the Senate rallied behind this position to oppose efforts to move toward a vote.

Republicans argued that the financial implications of the bill were too burdensome for the American public.

While the EPA estimated a relatively low economic impact (ranging from two to seven percent of US gross domestic product), Republicans repeatedly recalled the image of $4 per gallon of gasoline and dismissed the bill as too expensive.

"You can't have a more important issue to be dealing with on the floor of the Senate," Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) stated to reporters. Yet, the debate has been "reduced to trickery and gimmicks and parliamentary games."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) called the legislation a "giant tax on virtually every aspect of industrial and consumer life."

Senate Democrats, along with environmental groups, responded sharply to this claim, noting that the implications of climate change are too great not to take action. They also argue that a widespread restructuring of environmental policies will generate a new sector of jobs focused on green technology. These individuals and groups assert that oil is quickly reaching peak production and is a dwindling and dirty resource; thus, renewable (and clean) energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and other such technologies are more economically viable in the long term.

The bill's chances faded quickly this week as Republicans turned to extraordinary tactics to impede debate.

McConnell ordered a reading of the full 492-page bill - an extremely rare occurrence - to stall debate for over nine hours on the floor. Republican speaker after speaker rose to make emotional appeals to Americans struggling financially, stating that the bill would increase fuel prices and act as a clandestine tax on a wide spectrum of the US economy.

On Wednesday, after several days of little progress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said he would pull it if the bill did not pass a full vote by week's end.

On Friday, the vote for cloture (to end the filibuster and move toward a vote) failed to reach the 60-vote threshold at 48-36.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) noted her disappointment about the bill's failure, but stated she was hopeful for the next Congress. Speaking about the next administration, Boxer said "[this debate] is a road map for them."

Senator Obama concluded in his statement responding to the legislation's failure, "I believe that the American people are ready to lead the world on this issue. The time for distractions, divisions, and excuses is over. The time for new coalitions, informed and civil debate, and a sense of shared purpose is long overdue."

The United States remains one of the only major economic powers not to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, and the Bush administration, buttressed by Congressional inaction, has refused to cooperate with domestic and international organizations to address climate change by significantly altering US energy policies.

More than a dozen environmental groups responded to the Senate debate in a joint statement: "The opposition in the Senate must give up its strategy of denial, delay and disinformation," the groups wrote. "Allies of the coal and oil industry are hijacking the Senate floor at a time when an overwhelming majority of Americans want our country to build a clean energy economy."

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