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Tilting at Windmills

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December 10, 2009

KERRY, GRAHAM, LIEBERMAN RELEASE CLIMATE BILL 'FRAMEWORK'.... Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) released their "framework" for a climate change/energy independence bill at a Capitol Hill event this afternoon.

If you've been following this trip-partisan trio's work on the issue, the available details of the framework will seem pretty familiar.

Among the details they did give:

-- The three will propose a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions "in the range" of 17 percent by 2020. That was equal to the reduction in a bill passed by the House over the summer, but less than Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer proposed in a Senate bill earlier this year.

-- The three want to encourage offshore drilling for oil and gas, increase U.S. nuclear-power plants, and "ensure a future for coal." That nod to fossil fuels and nuclear power could upset environmentalists, but they will be crucial to enticing Republicans and moderate Democrats from states with big energy businesses.

-- The three support a "cap and trade" system, in which polluters will be able to buy and sell credits to emit greenhouse gases, under an overall national cap. But they do not support calling it that.

Apparently, "cap and trade" no longer polls well. The White House seems to now prefer "energy independence legislation." These three senators are using the phrase "market-based approach." ("You remember the artist formerly known as Prince?" Lieberman said. "This is the market-based system for punishing polluters previously known as 'cap and trade.'")

As for the politics of their effort, Lieberman added, "There are well over 60 votes that are in play." That's a diplomatic way of saying, "We're not there yet, but we're working on it."

In addition to the press conference, Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman released a copy of a letter they sent to President Obama on their progress. "Support is building to simultaneously create jobs, protect our national security interests, and improve our environment," the senators wrote.

And what was the point of all of this? It's all about timing -- David Roberts explained, "[T]he event was timed to have an impact in Copenhagen. Both Kerry and Lieberman said explicitly that their intent was to send a message to countries hashing out a climate treaty: the U.S. Senate is on the job. It's making progress."

Steve Benen 4:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Just a hunch, but I don't think other countries are as stupid as these bozos would like to believe. "On the job.....making progress" my ass. No, world. We are stupid as hell and we are going to keep taking it up the arse until hell freezes over. Start the revolution without us.

Posted by: Chopin on December 10, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Like the "health reform" legislation that is designed to protect the profits of the insurance corporations against the best interests of the American people, this "framework" is designed to protect the profits of the fossil fuel and nuclear corporations against the best interests of the American people.

That's your U.S. Senate "on the job", folks.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 10, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Y'all know my views of Sens. Lieberman and Graham, but I can support these two in their efforts to confront this most serious issue. I am even more appreciative of the fact that Sen. Graham is treading dangerous electorate-base territory. For this, I say good for Lindsay!

We still have quite a long road to haul this legislation to the finish line, but a bi-partisan start is a good thing at this moment in time! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 10, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Lindsey Graham is the adult stage of Howdy Doody?

Posted by: Michael Carpet on December 10, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta say, I'm liking the new name "market based approach." If that catches on, it'll be nice to see the right-wing Deniers arguing against the market based approach!

Posted by: Mike D on December 10, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Coal? How 19th century. Even Byrd has figured that out (or perhaps he remembers?). Just kidding, folks, just kidding.

Posted by: beep52 on December 10, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

The nuclear power plant issue is annoying, but I'll support it if need be. But the very idea of having the government subsidize nuclear energy even more than we already do really undercuts the arguments of nuclear supporters. If nuclear energy is so cheap, then why do we always have to subsidize it? Should it not be profitable on its own by now? If industry can't become profitable in50 years, it probably never will be profitable.

Posted by: fostert on December 10, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with Graham 90% of the time, but he's taking significant heat on this one and still sticking with it. Good for him. (A 10% good for him.)
Of course, you must remember that Graham is from NC, major parts of which may be under water in 100 years if we don't do something about global warming. This would seem to be a good time to find other repubs from coastal states to join him. Call it the Coastal Coalition. It would give them a card to play against the Idiot from Oklahoma.

Posted by: Tim H on December 10, 2009 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Apparently, "cap and trade" no longer polls well."

No terms that effectively deal with global warming will poll well after the polluter lobby is done with their smear campaigns.

We need to stand our ground and not keep changing labels.

Posted by: Andy Olsen on December 10, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Nukes are a deal breaker for me. If we have to subsidize energy production, let's subsidize solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and improving efficiency. Nukes just perpetuate the big energy company's strangle hold on production.

Posted by: richard wang on December 10, 2009 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

I have an idea. Let's suspend the idea that governments can do ANYTHING about climate change.

Instead.... global citizens need to tap into the vast knowledge of climate science, and make decisions on their own.

Ultimately this beast can only be solved by the marketplace.

Go green. Go carbon-neutral. F**k the policy makers. By the time we reach a global climate framework for reducing emissions, it will be too

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 10, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Go Green. Go carbon neutral. F**k the poliy makers..." Tom Nicholson @ 5:48 PM.

What's the waiting time for a Prius? Does everyone have the cash or credit available to purchase solar panels? Or a windmill/generator? How is an apartment-dweller supposed to grow their own food? Or make their own clothes?
Corporations have known about climate change for as long as it's been talked about; what have they done so far, besides spending vast amounts on attempts to discredit the science behind global warming? The only solution the "marketplace" will proved, unless forced by government action to do otherwise, is exactly what they have for the past three decades: Nothing.
Rant rate: 9
Content: 2
Final grade: D

Posted by: Doug on December 10, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

More progress in algal biofuels.

Russia supplies nuclear power plants to India

DOE supports carbon capture and storage.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 10, 2009 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

"The three want to encourage offshore drilling for oil and gas"

What's to encourage ?

The oil companies are only pumping from 10.2 million acres of the more than 41 million acres of offshore leases they already own, where more than 79% of all the offshore oil reserves are, comprising some 54 BILLION barrels of oil available to them that they are not currently accessing.

"increase U.S. nuclear-power plants"

We need to DECREASE U.S. nuclear-power plants.

"and ensure a future for coal"

Barring some Star Trek like technological breakthrough, there is no future for coal.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 10, 2009 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Nuclear power is green, safe and the future of power for the world. By encapsulating uranium/plutonium in a ceramic medium, the fuel can be made environmentally safe, and much more resistant to problems.

The founder of Greenpeace is pro-nuclear. Many environmentalists realize that the carbon-free power from nuclear is the way to go.

Posted by: POed Lib on December 10, 2009 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

I assume their nod toward fossil fuels is to ensure support from president Snowe, right ?

Posted by: rbe1 on December 11, 2009 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

"Nuclear power is green, safe and the future of power for the world."

Wrong on all three counts.

"By encapsulating uranium/plutonium in a ceramic medium, the fuel can be made environmentally safe"


"The founder of Greenpeace is pro-nuclear."

Who gives a rat's ass if he's crazy ?

"Many environmentalists realize that the carbon-free power from nuclear is the way to go."

It's not "carbon-free".

Greenhouse gasses are produced from the mining, the milling, the enrichment and the fuel fabrication of uranium, all prior to the irradiation of the fuel, and it gets worse from there.

Not to mention that the level of radioactivity in a reactor core is so massive that if there were even a minor accident it could cause hundreds of thousands of casualties, the wastes are dangerous for more than a half a million years, and each reactor produces 10 tons of plutonium over its lifetime while it only takes a few pounds to make a nuclear weapon.

You do the math.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 11, 2009 at 4:57 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, Joe Lieberman doesn't get it. Cap-and-trade or market based or whatever they want to call it, isn't about punishing polluters only that could be done through regulation and taxation. It's about rewarding efficiency even more and encouraging the massive capital costs associated with new technologies and clearr operations. Rewarding innovation is the American way if you build a better moustrap (or search engine) and all that. In this case, we are defining a lower emmissions technology as 'better' and rewarding them before the critical market crash. Thinking cap and trade can't work is to deny American ingenuity. Why do republicans hate American businesses?

Posted by: Northzax on December 11, 2009 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

Just looking at some of the details confirms that anything Joe Lieberman supports should be rejected by all right thinking human beings.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on December 11, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: kimc on December 11, 2009 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need nuclear power or coal. Conservation, wind, solar, natural gas, biomass and a little oil is more than enough. We could do hybrid solar and natural gas power plant. The solar could pre-heat the steam and NG finish it up. We might be able to retrofit some of the NG power plants with solar preheaters. We could ramp up windpower by having the federal government offering low or no interest loans. Offshore windfarms in the great lakes would help the industrial states like Michigan and Ohio. We could also assist the american car companies to go to rechargeable hybrid cars which would greatly reduce our gasoline useage. We could reduce CO2 by 50% in 10yr and maybe 75% in 20yr. We don't have to go to zero, a 75% reduction maybe enough.

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Posted by: Vincent on March 16, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK



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