Peterson Flips, Would Now Vote Against Climate Bill

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Monday, January 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, was one of the more successful negotiators during last summer’s climate change debate, winning enormous concessions for some of the nation’s largest polluters in the name of protecting Big Ag. To win Peterson’s vote, for example, House leaders were forced to exempt agriculture from a proposed emissions cap. In another concession, the bill sponsors had to scrap a provision that would have required regulators to consider foreign deforestation when calculating the environment impacts of domestic biofuel production.

Peterson, at the time, seemed pleased. “We have reached an agreement that works for agriculture and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” he said in a statement announcing the deal. Just days later, Peterson voted in favor of the bill. But that was then, and this is now.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported over the weekend that Peterson would no longer vote for the climate change bill — even if the concessions remain.

The Agriculture Committee chairman said he was “stuck voting” for the bill (which awaits Senate action) in June because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi granted his requests for broad agriculture concessions, but he won’t support it again if it remains unchanged….

“First of all, this isn’t going anyplace in the Senate,” Peterson said. “But if it did and we ended up with a bill that was similar to what came out of the House and that was going to become law, I would vote no.”

In an election year, with unemployment still hovering in double digits, it’ll be hard enough for Democratic leaders to pass legislation addressing global warming. Peterson’s defection — should it be indicative of a trend among moderate Democrats — only adds to the party’s headaches.

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