Climate Change

Published on May 20th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

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The Key Votes We Need to Pass the Climate Bill

May 20th, 2010 by  

Environment & Energy Daily has a great count of the votes for the latest iteration of the Climate Bill; the American Power Act, which is finally coming to a cloture vote in June after being scored by the CBO and the EPA.

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Passage depends on these 31 Fence Sitters in the middle. Below the fold: the 37 Yes and the 32 No votes and the years of roll call vote evidence that points to a possible mass movement of Fence Sitters to 22-25 more Yes votes to get the bill to the floor.

The Fence Sitters who could swing over, from most likely groups to least.

+3 Experienced green states with successful regional cap and trade:

The RGGI states already have experience at the state level with cap and trade auctions to lower greenhouse gases: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Four of these states have successfully reduced greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels. Fence sitters from these states include Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and (retiring) Judd Gregg (R-NH).

+ 2 Climate bill contributors:

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spent months fine tuning the bill, and appears genuinely aware of the threat in the future as climate change gets worse over the next decades. He will come back on board. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is holding out for her stand alone bill (CLEAR), but her cap and dividend really is included in this composite. She is a real clean policy innovator. She has never voted dirty and is hardly going to torpedo climate legislation for not being perfect.

+ 6 Job-threatened constituents:

The rust belt Democrats like Sherrod Brown (OH) who held out for a border tax to protect jobs from carbon leakage, got it. Expect Yes votes from him, along with co-authors Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Carl Levin (D-MI), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Al Franken (D-MN) and from former Republican Arlen Specter (D-PA) who occasionally voted for clean energy, and now has even less to lose by voting his conscience, since he lost his primary this week.

+ 8 Clean voters in dirty states:

Dirty energy states that might yield Yes votes include Robert Byrd (D-WV): 90% coal-powered) who has shown pangs of conscience and is of an age where he might want to retire with a good conscience and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) who is voluntarily retiring – so he has nothing to lose. His fellow senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) has voted to tax Big Oil to fund low income assistance: LIHEAP. North Dakota is a coal and oil state, 90% of its electricity comes from coal. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is frequently a clean voter, especially for tax incentives to support clean energy. Jim Webb (D-VA) has typically voted for clean energy. Montana’s Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) also have good records on eco votes. Baucus was quite clever in slipping tax incentives that saved the wind industry from demise – he bundled the expiring tax credits into the must-pass econo-apocalyptic Bush Bailout bill. Ben Nelson (D-NE) sometimes has been a no in the past, but his chief constituent Warren buffet is a clean energy investor.

+3 Climate threatened constituencies:

Retiring George LeMieux (R-FL) has broken with Republican orthodoxy to raise alarms over the oil gushing from the Gulf, which threatens tourism in Florida. Also, Florida has already seen six-fold property tax rises from climate risks. And he is retiring. Bill Nelson (D-FL) who has never supported coastal drilling, has also expressed alarm and has voted in the past to tax Big Oil to rebate back to consumers. and against coastal drilling. New, untested and worrisome Mark Begich (D-AK) is a danger because Alaska relies on oil money to run virtually the entire state, but on the other hand, may have constituent pressure from climate changes already eroding beach villages.

+ 3 Republican mavericks:

While Scott Brown (R-MA) is a danger of a No (as a Republican), but he a possible clean state voter because MA, like CA, has state energy legislation that is already growing a constituency for a clean tech economy. Thus, he faces home state pressures similar to Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) of 55% renewable powered Maine, who have reliably abandoned the Republican filibuster to vote for the environment. (John McCain (R-AZ) has voted 50 times against the environment – except his one ill-fated nuclear bill that flopped – his is not a likely vote)

Of the 31, this actually leaves us only these 6 truly unlikely Fence Sitter votes; two Democrats and four republicans:

Mark Pryor (D-AR) Has been an occasional No. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is probably a No.

George Voinovich (R-OH) voted against ensuring that only clean fuels be incented, and for the Inhofe dirty coal bill.Bob Corker (R-TN) 90% coal powered state. Richard Lugar (R-IN) 90% coal powered state.

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) The EPA-basher does not have a Fence Sitter voting record. Her only Yes vote on energy was for Inhofe’s dirty coal amendment.

But now let’s look at No, and Probably No below:

What we can scrounge together from these hopeless cases.

+2 Overlooked votes:

One now in the EE “Probably No” column is actually likely Yes, as a Democrat who has fairly consistently voted for clean energy. Both are on the way out. Evan Bayh (D-IN) is quitting voluntarily, and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is being ousted involuntarily – she is being primaried out by Move-On for inadequately progressive Health Reform votes.

Bayh is retiring because there’s “not enough bipartisanship” – but he has consistently voted for environmental bills in the past and he got the border tax he asked for for 90% coal powered Indiana. Lincoln talks like a Dirty Dem, but she generally votes for clean energy except when it would cost oil companies – which Cap and Trade does. However, she might attempt one last clean vote, either because she is still competing for a chance to keep her seat (if Harry Reid can bring this to the floor soon after the CBO analysis is complete in June), or if after June; because it is too late to matter, assuming that she loses to her challenger from the Left, Bill Halter – which is likely as the 13% of third candidate votes are more likely to go to the challenger in the second run-off vote in June, when hard-core Move-On activists are likely to be among the few who turn up to vote.

+2 Overlooked Republicans:

Extremely elderly Charles Grassley (R-IA) is in the state that now produces 15% of its electricity from wind. Never voted for clean energy before, but to go to your grave without doing something about a threat you understand, is hard to do. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is retiring, not to go into lobbying, but to run for Governor.

37 Yes, and Probably Yes are all the senators, such as Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who have never voted against the environment or clean energy in 20 or even 30 years. We don’t have to worry about any of these 37 senators voting against the clean energy future.

But all of these senators could use a call from you. The number is (202) 224 3121


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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • This is great breakdown of what we need to pass this key legislation. The fact is, the current oil debacle is fueling the argument for a more unilateral and effective renewable energy stimulus from the national government. We need to be expanding these industries before it is too late.

    For more information, visit lesscarbonmorejobs.com

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