Despite GOP boycott, Senate EPW committee passes climate bill, 11-1.
Earlier this week when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders began speaking to the Environment and Public Works Committeeon the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (CEJAPA), also known as the Boxer-Kerry climate bill, he noted the paucity of Republicans in the room. In fact, just one GOP Senator made the bill's mark-up just long enough to ask for a five-week delay, the rest of the Republicans on the committee decided to boycott the proceedings, demanding more time to study the bill and come up with amendments that would likely water down it's effectiveness.
Well, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today overcame that GOP boycott and voted 11 to 1 for a wide-ranging climate bill that would cut greenhouse gases from power plants and factories by 83 percent by 2050. The legislation also calls for a 20 percent emissions reduction by 2020.* Montana's Max Baucus was the only Democrat to vote against the legislation
“It is insane that we import $350 billion worth of oil a year from foreign countries,” said Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “Our challenge is to move toward energy independence and energy efficiency and sustainable energy by substantially reducing greenhouse emissions and, in the process, creating millions of good-paying jobs.”
Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) passed the bill without assistance from any Republican senators on her panel, a fact Sanders said he regretted.
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who recently left the Republican Party, bemoaned his inability to offer any amendments to the bill that would address his home state's heavy metal and refining industries. But Specter also said that with the Copenhagen climate talks just a month away, it was more important to pass the climate bill out of committee now.
As recently as last week, Sen. John Kerry said the bill would reach the floor of the Senate for a full vote before the upcoming pivotal climate talks.
Senators meet with White House in push for bipartisanship
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) met individually Wednesday with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Carol Browner, the president's assistant for energy and climate change.
The three senators announced that they would work in conjunction with the White House to patch together a bill that could pass the U.S. Senate.
"The green economy is coming. We can either follow or lead," said the only Republican Senator to voice support for the bill, Lindsey Graham.
*Emission reduction goals use 2005 as baseline year.