Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Into the Sausage Grinder...

Paul Kane's article in the Washington Post describes what he calls a "daunting march through the Senate" this week for climate change legislation approved in the House that features, as its centerpiece, Cap & Trade.

The bill appears to be about 15 votes short of the supermajority 60 it needs to pass, so get ready for some horse trading that could make the legislation unrecognizable by the time it exits the chamber.

Kane notes:

"Senators will weigh a slew of potential compromises -- everything from allowing more offshore drilling for oil and natural gas to increasing funding for nuclear energy -- that they think would inch the package closer to passage. But environmental activists warn that the 1,400-page House version of the bill already includes so many giveaways to corporate America that more horse-trading in the Senate could lead them to oppose the final version."

What makes this debate so unusual is that the usual party loyalties do not apply-- it's all about geography. Some liberal senators who would seem like natural supporters of the bill are holding

out for sweetheart deals for corporate interests in their home states.

For example, the Post article points out:

"Democrats from the Rust Belt states of West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are pushing for more incentives to help their depressed industries shift to alternative energy sources. The same senators also will likely want more funding for carbon capture and sequestration, a controversial and still-evolving technology described by its developers as "clean coal" but derided by many environmentalists. The technology is already slated for $10 billion in government-funded research in legislation that passed the House. A trio of Democrats from the Dakotas want more funding for wind power. "

Given that this bill barely passed the House, it's anybody's guess what it will look like this time next week.