Jane Van Ryan
Posted November 5, 2009
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today voted to send the Kerry-Boxer climate bill to the Senate floor without amendments. Only Democrats were in attendance for the vote, and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.) voted against the bill, saying he would withhold his support contingent on the adoption of some pro-agriculture amendments.
The Republican members of the committee have been boycotting the committee's hearings on the Kerry-Boxer bill, saying they wanted a full Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis of the legislation rather than the regurgitated analysis of the Waxman-Markey bill that was provided to the committee. Today, committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)rebuffed their request, saying it would be duplicative and a "waste of taxpayer money" to prepare a new analysis.
In the past, the committee refrained from voting when fewer than two members of the minority party (Republicans) were not present. Today's action appeared to be a clear departure from the committee's own rules and from the spirit of bipartisanship.
API's President Jack Gerard said in a statement:
"Today's action should mark the end of Kerry-Boxer, Waxman-Markey-style legislation that could destroy millions of American jobs and drive up fuel prices, punishing everyone who drives, flies or takes a bus or train...Congress now has the opportunity to develop a meaningful, bipartisan energy and climate policy that addresses the challenges at hand without holding back our nation's economic recovery."
Kevin Book of Clear View Energy Partners, LLC, who has been following the climate legislation closely, says today's vote shows that the Democrats are very serious about arriving at some agreement on climate before the Copenhagen meeting in 32 days. He also says it "increases the importance of support by farm-state Senators...whose home states could derive economic upside by originating offset credits."
Republicans are warning that today's committee vote was a "nuclear" option, meaning that it might have destroyed all hope for bipartisan consensus. But, as Kevin says, that point could be moot because Democrats control the committee and the Senate.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.