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Moderates seek climate bill compromise

John Dimsdale Nov 5, 2009
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Moderates seek climate bill compromise

John Dimsdale Nov 5, 2009
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Kai Ryssdal: As with health care and getting big business on board, so it goes with global warming. The Senate Environment Committee approved a climate change bill today. The final vote was 11 to 1. That was all Democrats, by the way. Republicans boycotted the vote to protest what they say is a lack of rigorous analysis of the bill. It’s not the most bi-partisan of atmospheres. So a group of three senators is trying to cobble together a compromise. One that will involve big business. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports.


JOHN DIMSDALE: John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent, are the strange bedfellows trying to cut a deal on limiting greenhouse gas pollution. They propose to combine investments in renewable energy with more incentives for oil drilling, clean coal technologies and nuclear power.

Senator Graham says bringing more stakeholders along is the only way a bill will pass.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: What I’ve got to do is convince people in South Carolina and our colleagues up here as a whole that environmental policy will be good business policy.

The three Senators have welcomed a pledge of support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been blocking climate change legislation. But some environmental advocates say Senators are compromising too much to bring businesses on board.

Nick Berning is with Friends of the Earth:

NICK BERNING: We’ve already got a bill that gives away a lot to industry. It’s already not strong enough in terms of cracking down on pollution. Now there’s a new effort to include even more giveaways. The results could really be disastrous.

But Steve Cochran, with the Environmental Defense Fund, says, like the debate over health care reform, there will be no transition to clean energy or caps on pollution until more interests are included in the negotiations.

STEVE COCHRAN: There’s a lot on the table. But there are a lot of people who come to that table, which is why I’m so encouraged to see Senators Kerry, and Graham, and Lieberman moving forward with a bipartisan effort to really try to put something together.

Despite those efforts, the Senate will not meet a major goal of the environmental community approving greenhouse-gas reductions before an international global warming summit convenes in Copenhagen next month.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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