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Bipartisan support for U.S. climate legislation?

October 12, 2009

Saturday, October 10th 2009 may not have been a very memorable day for many. There were no major NCAA football upsets, no monumental  news reported on TV, and my paint-balling venture only resulted in me hitting one measly enemy, an astonishingly low accuracy of .002%. However, Saturday may have been a turning point in the United States’ attempt to pass a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.

Featured in the NYT was Senator John Kerry and Senator Lindsey Graham’s op-ed, “Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)”. Why is this a big deal? The article is the first major display of bipartisan Congressional support for climate change legislation in the United States. Republicans all the way back to George Bush I have promised to take climate change seriously. Republicans Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe, former Republican Arlen Specter, and several others have expressed their caveat-laced approval. John McCain and Sarah Palin actually ran on an environmental platform of implementing a cap-and-trade system in the US. But no Senator has put his reputation on the line like this before. As Bill Scher at Grist opines,

Final compromise language is far from complete. But for the conservative South Carolinian to explicitly back “aggressive reductions in our emissions of the carbon gases that cause climate change” (!) in a joint op-ed with Massachusetts liberal Sen. John Kerry (!!) published in pages of New York Times (!!!), Graham has already done all he could to infuriate the conservative movement and many voters in his conservative state.

In other words, Graham has already assumed the political risks to do a deal. There’s no point in taking those risks unless you actually do the deal. He has crossed the climate Rubicon.

Senator Jim Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, has already expressed his plans of going to Copenhagen as a “one-man truth squad” to let other world leaders know that the US is not serious about passing climate change legislation. Has Inhofe canceled his flight? No news yet. My suggestion would be for Senator Graham to give Inhofe a ring and offer to accompany him on his venture.

[UPDATE 11/30/2009: Inhofe will still go to Copenhagen. See his interview with the NY Times.]

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