VIEWS: Climate Change Legislation Appears to Move Forward

Dispatch from SSC Intern Nick Foster

As the U.S. Senate begins to hash out the specifics of the impending climate change bill, a split between major energy producers is evolving in Washington.  The legislation will influence the investment and distribution of billions of dollars in the coming years, and each energy producer wants to ensure they have a good opportunity to acquire these funds. 

Schisms are formulating between natural gas and oil companies, while electrical utilities are fighting each other over whether coal or alternative energy options should be used for power.  And the burgeoning renewable energy sector is clamoring for an advantage over all producers.  Businesses separating ties with former partners and alliances have been a common denominator in the climate change debate with the example of some businesses leaving the Chamber of Commerce over the climate change dispute.  Albeit that it is difficult to forecast which industries will benefit the most, it is a sign that progress has been made in terms of passing legislation pertaining to climate policy.  Daniel J. Weiss, the climate policy director at the Center for American Progress claims, “It’s much harder to pass clean-energy legislation when big oil and other energy interests are united in their opposition.”  With that in mind, it seems as though the passing of a bill that demonstrates a U.S. commitment to curbing carbon emissions is eminent.   

To this date, the most votes seen in the Senate in favor of regulating climate change numbered 48.  However, the impending vote has the definite potential of passing with the recent breakthrough that Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would assist John Kerry, D-Mass., with drafting a bipartisan plan.  With Senator Graham’s support, it makes the Senate bipartisan and able to overcome any filibuster attempts.  There are more obstacles however to overcome for the bill, as some Democrats are expected to reject the current legislation proposed.  “Republicans have to give in the area of recognizing that climate change is real, and a cap-and-trade system is part of the solution,” reported Graham.  He later followed that by saying that Democrats must “give on the idea that you can’t be serious about climate change solutions if you include nuclear power and energy independence.” 

Find out how energy companies are reacting to potential climate legislation here

Find out possible impacts of bipartisanship on climate change legislation here