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WtH Update: What’s happening with Cap and Trade?

November 16, 2009

Not much.

As long the Senate waits for the Congressional Budget Office to deliver their long-awaited cost estimates on health care further delaying Senate debate on that issue, cap and trade is in the deep freeze. 

But don’t take my word for it.  

The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 11 that the window has closed this year on climate change legislation.

“It’s common understanding that climate-change legislation will not be brought up on the Senate floor and pass the Senate this year,” Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus said on the sidelines of a caucus lunch.

Mr. Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said he planned to hold a number of hearings on climate legislation and eventually mark up a bill in his panel. “But I don’t know that I can get a bill put together by this year, as important as climate-change legislation is,” he said.

Mr. Baucus was the lone dissenting Democratic vote on the Environment Panel last week because he wanted weaker emission-reduction targets and stronger provisions to protect energy-intensive industries and encourage clean-coal technologies.

“I wouldn’t want to bet my paycheck that all the relevant committees will report out legislation by the end of this year,” said Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.).

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), who is leading an effort by moderate, heartland Democrats to protect manufacturing and agriculture industries, said committees were no longer under any timetables to produce legislation.

In Asia over the weekend, President Obama seemed to throw in the towel on any hopes that the upcoming United Nations meeting in Copenhagen would lead to a binding international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.  The new goal next month in Copenhagen is to lay the groundwork for 2010 negotiations.

The New York Times laments the lack of progress on climate change, conceding that legislation and a sweeping global agreement are not within reach:

Mr. Obama expressed support on Sunday for a proposal from Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark to pursue a two-step process at the Copenhagen conference.

Under the plan, the 192 nations convening in the Danish capital would formulate a nonbinding political agreement calling for reductions in global warming emissions and aid for developing nations to adapt to a changing climate. The group would also promise to work to put together a binding global pact in 2010, complete with firm emissions targets, enforcement mechanisms and specific dollar amounts to aid poorer nations.

Senator Roland Burris is among 14 Senate Democrats who wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators Boxer, Kerry, and Baucus outlining their concerns about how the proposed distribution of emission allowances in Kerry-Boxer unfairly treats utilities that burn coal.   The letter highlights one of the major regional differences of opinion on how cap and trade is designed.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s position on climate change and his willingness to work with Senate colleague John Kerry to “find a path to 60 votes” is drawing attention in his home state. 

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham’s decision to work with Senate Democratic leaders on cap-and-trade legislation has sparked a mutiny back home, culminating in a scathing rebuke from the Republican Party in one of the most populous counties in the South Carolina.

In a harshly-worded resolution approved Monday, the Charleston County Republican Party condemned Graham for undermining “Republican leadership and party solidarity for his own benefit” and tarnishing “the ideals of freedom, rule of law, and fiscal conservatism.”

Read more about the reaction to Graham in POLITICO.

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