Schumer: Climate Bill Will Be Introduced as Amendment to Energy Bill
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tells The Hill that the landmark climate bill being drafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will likely be given a vote as an amendment to Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s (D-N.M.) energy-only bill. If Schumer’s right — and he’s very close to the Democratic leadership, so there’s every reason to believe he is — this would represent a major step backward for America’s efforts to fight global warming.
Schumer said that the Bingaman proposal would be “the base bill upon which John Kerry will seek to add his bill,” clarifying that “he’s going, in my opinion, going to get a chance to offer it in the form of an amendment.”
Bingaman’s bill, which provides incentives to develop cleaner energy sources but does not address planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, has been derided by environmentalists for its handouts to the energy industry. Some argue that the renewable energy targets in his bill are lower than would be met by the status quo.
The hope among environmental advocates was that the Bingaman proposal would be folded into Kerry and Lieberman’s comprehensive climate bill, which places a declining cap on carbon emissions among certain polluting sectors of the economy. Some conservative Democrats have called for a separate vote on an energy-only bill, which would be far less controversial (since it would not impose a cost on emissions) but would not directly address climate change.
If the climate proposal is indeed introduced as an amendment, its chances of passage are low, since vulnerable senators will be able to claim environmental credentials by voting for the underlying energy bill while voting down the controversial climate amendment.
Expect strong pushback from environmental groups and liberal Democrats if Schumer’s hunch is confirmed.