Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) cap and trade system is going down to defeat in a major victory for conservative Republicans. The legislation was supposed to be on the Senate floor this afternoon, but now a vote on cap and trade is highly doubtful.
The legislation passed the House last June but its popularity has fallen as the GOP has repeatedly attacked what they call “cap and tax.” In response, Senate Democrats are no longer using the description cap and trade, and they now describe the legislation as a “pollution cap.”
Few people would have predicted climate change problems on Capitol Hill when the 111th Congress began. Over 70% of 2006 voters listed global warming as a serious concern, and over 60% felt that way in 2008.
The cap and trade proposal was at the top of the Democratic agenda last year. Two weeks after the November 2008 balloting, President-elect Obama addressed the Global Climate Change Conference:
Few challenges facing America — and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season. . . Too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change.
In January of 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) strongly endorsed the President’s viewpoint and claimed to have the votes for passage. Reid said his top three priorities were economic recovery and the stimulus, health care reform and climate change. He said action on the cap and trade bill would require 60 votes, and the legislation was being delayed until there was a report from a bipartisan working group.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was expected to join Kerry as an original co-sponsor. After a year of negotiations, Graham pulled out of the deal, and not one Republican is backing the current proposal.
Furthermore, Democrats have lost the votes of Senators Blanche Lincoln (AR), Ben Nelson (NE), Evan Bayh (IN), Kent Conrad (ND) and Jay Rockefeller (WV). Sen. Carte Goodwin (D-WV), who was sworn in yesterday, would almost certainly oppose cap and trade.
Majority Leader Reid promised debate on the bill would begin yesterday, but it has now been indefinitely pulled from the calendar. The Senate is about to go into recess which means it is unlikely the bill would be considered by this Congress.
Its prospects in the next Congress would be far dimmer. A major reason Democrats will not fulfill their promise to allow a vote on cap and trade is the special election for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia.
Sen. Rockefeller told the Majority Leader that health care reform cost Democrats a Senate seat in Massachusetts, and cap and trade could do the same thing in West Virginia.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Majority Leader promised to discuss climate change at the Senate Democratic Caucus on Thursday:
We’re really not at a point where I can determine what I think is the best for the caucus and the country at this stage. We’re still trying to find a Republican or two or three on energy. We haven’t given up on that.
Senators such as Evan Bayh (D-IN) have made it clear they will oppose the Kerry bill because it would result in a reduction of energy consumption which would impede America’s economic growth. In a major change from 2006, there is now widespread opposition to global warming in the scientific community. Over 30,000 scientists have signed a petition urging the United States to reject the Kyoto climate change agreement. Their joint letter stated:
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.
Other reasons the global warming lobby suffered a setback in this Congress include:
1. The most important source of data for the UN IPCC report was found to be fraudulent. Prominent scientists at the Climate Research Unit at the UK’s East Anglia University falsified their findings and sought to prevent the publication of works by their detractors. The Director, Dr. Phil Jones, was forced to resign.
2. It has now been proven that the data used by Dr. Michael Mann, head of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, to build Al Gore’s famous hockey stick graph is wrong. The graph outlined temperature increases over the past 1000 years. It was cited as indisputable evidence the planet has been warming for a century because of carbon emissions, but Mann just hid the decline in temperatures which conflicted with his conclusion.
3. The UN IPCC now admits huge glaciers in the Himalayan mountains will not disappear by 2035.
4. They have retracted their statement that “Up to 40 percent of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation.”
5. They have retracted their claim that crop yields in Africa will be reduced by 50 percent by 2020.
6. They now admit the Antarctic sea ice increase was under estimated by 50%. This was one of their major claims. They said sea levels would rise dramatically because the sea ice was disappearing.
7. Environmentalists now admit that 55% of the Netherlands is not below sea level.