Key Democratic Senators Set Conditions for Supporting Climate Agreement

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Thursday, December 03, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Nine Democratic senators sent a letter to President Obama this morning laying out ten conditions that will allow them to support domestic and international climate deals. The senators, who all hail from manufacturing of fossil fuel-dependent states, are mostly moderates, and their votes will be crucial to passing a climate bill next year.

But their demands are largely in line with the president’s agenda as he prepares to travel to Copenhagen next week for the international climate negotiations. They include “global agreement on emissions reduction goals,” “reciprocal commitments,” aid to “help the most vulnerable populations adapt” to climate change, and “cost-effective global action.”

The ten principles, the senators write, are designed to “protect against the twin risks of climate change and costly but ineffective climate action.”

The signers of the letter are Democratic Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Carl Levin (Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Begich (Alaska). Most of these senators are expected to support domestic climate legislation if it contains provisions to protect manufacturers from the economic effects of cap-and-trade.

The New York Times obtained a White House response to the letter that underscores the similar perspectives from which he and the senators are approaching the issue of climate change:

The President agrees with many of the Senators’ recommendations and has worked with other world leaders to advance a Copenhagen accord that reflects them. Domestically, the U.S. has taken numerous steps this year to transition to a clean energy economy — from setting an aggressive new fuel economy standard for new cars and trucks to making an historic investment in clean energy in the Recovery Act this year. The President worked closely with Members of Congress as they passed comprehensive energy legislation out of the House and is working with Senators to pass a bill that will decrease our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and enhance American competitiveness.

In addition to taking strong action at home, the President has kept climate change at the forefront of our foreign policy throughout the year. Following bilateral meetings with China and India, each country announced that they would take significant mitigation actions and stand by those commitments, and they called for full transparency as to their implementation. Since those meetings, China has announced a mitigation plan. And the President has worked with Prime Minister Rasmussen in support of a comprehensive accord in which all countries take meaningful steps, that has immediate operational effect and rallies a global response to the global threat of climate change.

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