As we’ve reported several times here on EnergyBoom, the United States’ congress failed to pass climate legislation this year, leaving the country without a solid, up-to-date plan for dealing with the threat of climate change.
But as a recent article in The New Yorker points out, the failure to pass the legislation falls on numerous entities from both parties, as well as the overwhelming influence from industry lobbyists.
First of all, the trio of Senators John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham (who later withdrew his support of The American Power Act,) was met with mixed signals from the White House. As The New Yorker points out, some members of the administration fully supported the idea, including Carol Browner, the assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, while others seemed to show little interest, including the influential David Axelrod, President Obama’s political adviser. Without unified support from the White House, the bill was off to a rocky start.
Next came the procedural hurdles that helped stall the bill in the Senate. While searching for anyone willing to sign onto their bill, Kerry and Lieberman were met with open hostility from politicians and pundits alike. Couple this with the fact that the Senate’s own rules allow for open-ended debate, and you’re left with no way to push the bill through without 60 votes – something the Senators weren’t even close to achieving.
But the final nail in the climate bill’s coffin was the money being poured into Washington by business interests opposed to climate legislation. According to an analysis put together by OpenSecrets.org, electric utilities and gas companies poured in a record-breaking $500 million into lobbying in the last 18 months to defeat climate legislation. On top of this, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $188 million in 2010 in lobbying to prevent the legislation from seeing the light of day.
While some Senators have expressed hope that we might still see a climate bill in the next few months, the facts show just the opposite. Without unified support and millions of dollars to fight industry influence, climate legislation will remain in stasis.
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