Bloomberg writers Lorraine Woellert and Simon Lomax reported yesterday that, “U.S. House Democrats cheered when they won a vote to impose the nation’s first limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. Senate Democrats didn’t join the party.
“‘They don’t have my vote yet,’ said Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. ‘In the Senate this bill will not pass unless Midwestern Democratic senators support it in large numbers.’
“The hard-won 219-212 vote on June 26 to move a climate bill through the House was just a first step on a difficult legislative path. Several climate measures are being crafted in the Senate, where the regional and philosophical differences that dogged the House measure are even more sharply defined.”
Political Focus as Climate Bill Goes to the Senate
Climate change legislation that passed the House on Friday, and is now headed to the Senate, was a key topic on yesterday’s Sunday morning television news programs.
An article posted yesterday at CQPolitics.com reported that, “Republicans continued Sunday to hammer the House-passed energy bill, calling it a ‘job-killer’ and one that will bring a ‘light-switch tax’ while a White House adviser countered that the GOP was using ‘inaction as a strategy’ to combat the nation’s energy problems.
“‘We’re trying to solve a problem that has languished for a decade, the problem of energy that has bedeviled us for a long time,’ presidential adviser David Axelrod said on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ ‘And they’re talking about how they can use it as an issue, inaction as somehow a strategy. And that’s not a strategy.’”
To listen to Mr. Axelrod’s analysis on the climate bill from yesterday’s “This Week” program, just click here (MP3-2:57).
John M. Broder reported in today’s New York Times that, “The House passed legislation on Friday intended to address global warming and transform the way the nation produces and uses energy.
“The vote was the first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change. The legislation, which passed despite deep divisions among Democrats, could lead to profound changes in many sectors of the economy, including electric power generation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.
“The bill’s passage, by 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats voting against it, also established a marker for the United States when international negotiations on a new climate change treaty begin later this year.”
Mr. Broder added that, “President Obama hailed the House passage of the bill as ‘a bold and necessary step.’ He said in a statement that he looked forward to Senate action that would send a bill to his desk ‘so that we can say, at long last, that this was the moment when we decided to confront America’s energy challenge and reclaim America’s future.’”
However, today’s Times article pointed out that, “As difficult as House passage proved, it is just the beginning of the energy and climate debate in Congress. The issue now moves to the Senate, where political divisions and regional differences are even more stark.”
Sam Youngman reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “In addition to feverishly working the phones, President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden of the White House on Thursday to pressure House members to vote for his energy bill [video replay available here- five minutes].”
Mr. Youngman added that, “A rebuke from Congress would be Obama’s first major failure in dealing with Congress since taking office, and it would come on one of the president’s signature issues.
“‘I can’t stress enough the importance of this vote,’ Obama said.”
Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported yesterday that, “The climate bill advancing in the U.S. House of Representatives will reward farmers who plant trees or take other steps to control greenhouse gases, and remove for five years an obstacle to corn-based ethanol, farm-panel Chairman Collin Peterson said on Wednesday.”
John M. Broder reported in today’s New York Times that, “The House is moving toward a vote Friday on energy and climate change legislation, with several significant issues still unresolved but with Democratic leaders expressing confidence that they will muster the votes to pass it.
Jared Allen reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “In a surprising development, House Democrats have reached an agreement to bring a sweeping climate change bill to the floor by the end of the week, Democratic aides announced late Monday night.
As negotiations over the Waxman-Markey bill continue, recent news reports indicate that concerns from agricultural and rural stakeholders regarding the bill persist.
Farm Payments, Carbon Sequestration
Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported on Friday that, “The climate change law being written in Congress is unlikely to pay directly U.S. farmers if they alter their operations to control greenhouse gases, said the House Energy Committee chairman on Friday.
“Energy chairman Henry Waxman, the lead sponsor of the climate bill, also told reporters it was dubious if a new land stewardship program would be created with the goal of locking carbon in the soil.
“Waxman commented after meeting four dozen farm-group leaders for 90 minutes. He said the meeting underlined distrust in farm country of the Environmental Protection Agency, which would have a major role in climate programs. Urban lawmakers are skeptical the Agriculture Department has the expertise to oversee carbon offset programs.”
Jared Allen reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “A flurry of meetings in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office has led to a near-deal on the climate change bill, perhaps paving the way for the bill to be brought to the floor by the July 4 recess.
“Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is close to an agreement with Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who at the beginning of the week was warning of a rural Democrat ‘revolt’ over the legislation if not changed.”
Allison Winter reported yesterday at The New York Times Online (Greenwire) that, “Rep. Collin Peterson, the outspoken House Agriculture Committee chairman who has emerged as a key figure in the climate debate, is used to rocking the house.”
Waxman-Markey Bill: Concerns Beyond Production Agriculture, Rural vs. Urban Electricity Allowances “Bigger Impediment”
Jared Allen reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “Rep. Collin Peterson’s (D-Minn.) day job may be chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, but his new role in the caucus is quickly becoming ambassador for Democratic frustration with a contentious climate change bill strongly backed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“And much of that new angst, Peterson says, has less to do with his committee or its needs and more to do with others who have heard about his concerns and want him to relay theirs.
Eric Roper reported yesterday at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online that, “Collin Peterson, Minnesota’s outspoken farm country congressman, is kicking up dust in Congress this month with his threats to obstruct a key climate change bill over concerns that the government is undermining farmers — particularly in the ethanol industry.
“While the issue is new, however, Peterson says the challenge is familiar. ‘We have a big problem in agriculture not being able to explain to city people what we’re doing,’ said the Detroit Lakes Democrat.”
Steven Mufson reported in today’s Washington Post that, “Democratic allies remain at odds over provisions of a House climate bill and a Senate energy bill, even as congressional leaders and Obama administration officials are pressing to complete work on the legislation.
“The latest rough patch came late Thursday afternoon when House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) met with the two chief sponsors of a climate bill to hash out differences in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). After more than an hour, they emerged without an agreement, gave reporters curt expressions of optimism and left without taking questions.
“‘There’s no deal, but I’m optimistic,’ said Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-sponsor of the bill. Peterson, who earlier that day said he would oppose the bill, said only that ‘we made good progress.’”
A news release issued yesterday by the House Agriculture Committee indicated that, “Today, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to review pending climate change legislation under consideration by Congress.
“The Agriculture Committee heard testimony from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and from representatives of conservation, energy, and agriculture-related organizations.
“‘Many Members of the House Agriculture Committee have serious concerns about how climate change legislation being considered in Congress will affect the people living in their districts,’ Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said. ‘This hearing has helped us better understand what is being proposed and what can be done to improve the legislation.’”
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will face a skeptical House Agriculture Committee as the secretary seeks to provide some details Thursday on how farmers and livestock producers could benefit from climate-change legislation.
“In the months leading up to debate on the climate bill, Vilsack had been a key advocate in discussing potential ‘green payments’ for farmers. Late last month, Vilsack was quoted at a forum in Kentucky saying USDA ‘will be advocating forcefully’ to ensure there are carbon credits for agriculture and forestry added to the climate bill and that USDA has authority over those areas.
“But leaders on the House Agriculture Committee have become some of the most vocal opponents of the bill. Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has made it clear on several occasions that he does not trust the legislation and the authority the bill gives to the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Recall that last month the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that, “The EPA is announcing a public hearing to be held for the proposed rule ‘Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: Changes to Renewable Fuel Standard Program’ (the proposed rule is hereinafter referred to as ‘RFS2’), which will be published separately in the Federal Register. The hearing will be held in Washington, DC on June 9, 2009.”
In addition, the EPA will be “hosting a workshop to present details of its lifecycle greenhouse gas analysis for Proposed Revisions to the National Renewable Fuels Standard Program. The intent of the workshop is to help ensure a full understanding of EPA’s lifecycle analysis, the major issues identified and the options discussed. This workshop will help ensure that the Agency receives submission of the most thoughtful and useful comments to the proposal and that the best methodology and assumptions are used for calculating GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions impacts of fuels for the final rule.” This workshop will be held today and tomorrow in Washington, D.C.