At 1:30 p.m., Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will unveil their climate bill to the public. Expect lots of talk about jobs, about ending our dependence on foreign oil, about the key role for nuclear power and clean coal. Don’t expect to hear much about climate change, or anything about “cap-and-trade.” The rollout will be primarily an appeal to mainstream America — and, by extension, to the Senate moderate-conservatives who will determine the fate of the legislation.
For his pitch to the left, Kerry turned this morning to the venerable environmental news site Grist, where he penned a rough column that seeks to preempt green criticism of the bill’s many concessions to polluting industries and interests:
I don’t want to swing by and just sort of preach to the choir. We’re true believers — we already get the imperative of the threat our addiction to carbon-emitting energy poses. You know the science, you know the reality, and so do I. [...]
And here’s what I can tell you, a comprehensive climate bill written purely for you and me — true believers — can’t pass the Senate no matter how hard or passionate I fight on it. No, it’s got to be an effort that makes my colleagues — and that has to include Republicans so we can get to 60 — comfortable about the jobs we’re going to create and the protection for consumers and the national security benefits — and it has to address those pieces on their terms. The good news — I think we got that balance right.
He then lays out the broad strokes of the legislation, which you can find in more detail in this leaked draft text. And he reiterates:
So — one more time – would I design every piece of this legislation exactly as it is if I only had to get my vote? Of course not. But that’s not the way democracy works. The Senate — and our caucus – is a very diverse coalition, from coastal states to Midwestern states to states with large coal reserves. 60 votes is a tough coalition to put together.
Reactions from environmental groups and advocates have been as diverse as the coalition Kerry describes. Ultimately, he’s counting on them to rally behind what’s likely to be the last shot for comprehensive climate legislation for some time to come.
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