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Baucus Opens Finance Hearing With Praise for Climate Legislation

Lest you should think that Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) “no” vote on the Environment and Public Works Committee’s climate bill signaled his opposition to comprehensive climate legislation in general, look no further than his opening statement this morning at the first hearing on the legislation in the Finance Committee, which he chairs:

[...] I am committed to passing meaningful, balanced climate-change legislation. I am committed to legislation that will protect our land and those whose livelihood depends on it.

I want our children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy the outdoors the way that we can today. So I’m going to work to pass climate-change legislation that is both meaningful and that can muster enough votes to become law. [...]

Let me be clear. We should work to minimize any job losses.

But we should recognize that in the case of acid rain [in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments], the negative [economic] consequences were far less than projected. We should keep this in mind when similar claims are made about the effects of legislation to address climate change.

So he’s committing to passing a bill *and *preempting the economic attacks that will inevitably come from the industry-heavy panel of witnesses.

Now, that’s not to say that the bill’s passage through the Finance Committee will be a breeze — it’s a relatively conservative committee, and Baucus is no environmentalist along the lines of EPW Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). But advocates of a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions have to be heartened by Baucus’ rhetoric this morning.

Of course, their mood might change when the legislation hits the Agriculture Committee, now chaired by cap-and-trade-wary Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).

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