The long-awaited idea of a comprehensive climate bill became less of a reality last week in the U.S. Senate.
Though an energy bill will head through Congress, it will not contain a few of the wish-list items that environmentalists and progressives have wanted. Greenhouse gas emission caps will not be a part of the legislation, nor will a standard for renewable electricity.
According to Politico, the proposed bill deals with changes since the Gulf oil spill, Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Home Star energy efficiency upgrades program, and fuel incentives for the trucking industry.
Republicans have forced the Democrats to back away from the stronger version of the climate bill by not allowing a 60-vote majority on the issue. Democrats are also faced with several time constraints, including the upcoming August recess and midterm election season this fall.
One of the broader issues underlying the fight for climate change has been the argument over the realities of global warming. Member countries of the United Nations, for instance, have become more aware of their carbon output from burning coal and other fossil fuels and have made standing commitments to change (i.e., the Kyoto Protocol adaptation in 2005). The United States has been noticeably absent from these types of broad emissions cap agreements.
A lack of action has permeated the legislative process as powerful energy lobbyists have blocked the United States’ involvement with serious climate change goals. Lawmakers who do not believe in global warming or caps on emissions from polluters have traditionally held up legislation that requires change. There are also powerful economic forces at work when polluters must change their business model to adhere to global or even stringent national standards.
Still pressing forward, President Obama and Senate leadership have vowed to get the remaining items left in the bill passed by mid-August before the recess.