John Broder reports in the New York Times:
Images of gushing oil and dying pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico have stirred anger and agony in Washington. But are they enough to prod the Senate to act on long-delayed clean energy and climate change legislation?
Energy, maybe. Climate, probably not. There is growing sentiment for a measure that penalizes BP, imposes higher costs and tougher regulations on offshore drillers and takes some steps toward reducing overall energy and petroleum consumption.
But despite the outrage over the spill, there appears to be limited appetite in the Senate for a broad-based effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions across the board.
Enacting that kind of legislation will require a grand bargain involving greater nuclear plant construction, concessions to the coal and utility industries, exemptions for major manufacturers and more, not less, domestic oil and gas drilling to attract Republican and moderate Democratic support.
A coalition of 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster is not yet in sight. In the words of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican who worked on a climate change bill for months before pronouncing it hopeless, “There’s nowhere near 60 votes to save the polar bear.”
As Ezra Klein asks, can the president change that?
In his first Oval Office speech Tuesday night, President Obama will demand that BP fund an independently-run fund to pay for the Gulf cleanup. That’s the deliverable, at least. The bigger question is whether he uses the speech to make the case for a climate bill? Right now, the Senate is trending towards doing an energy only bill instead. Tuesday’s speech could be the last chance for climate legislation to get a hearing.
I think he has to go for it. Rather than have the Kerry-Lieberman part of the bill introduced as an amendment, it should be in the base bill. If they can’t get cloture, then introduce a manager’s bill to strip the climate parts out of it. But, first, make this an issue and highlight Republican obstruction. Don’t let climate change legislation go down without a fight.