Saturday, June 18, 2005

Domenici May Support Climate Change Action

The Associated Press is reporting that Republican senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, "is prepared" to support and even cosponsor an amendment to the Senate's energy bill proposed by his Democratic colleague Jeff Bingaman. The amendment would require a mandatory reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2.4% annually, and its passage would represent a significant step forward in government recognition of the problem posed by global climate change.

Domenici has reportedly become convinced that Bingaman's proposal represents a fair middle ground on the issue of global warming, and has even begun lobbying other Republican senators and the White House of the need for action. The Republican bases his support for the legislation on the recent National Academy of Sciences conclusion that nations should "take prompt action to reduce the causes of climate change," as well as an "Energy Department finding that Bingaman's proposal would cause virtually no reduction of GDP by 2020 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5.4 percent over what they otherwise would be that year."

The Bush Administration remains opposed to any action on climate change that mandates emissions reductions, and the chairman of the White House Council of Environmental Quality has said Bingaman's amendment would "
put Americans out of work and drive energy-intensive production overseas." So obviously Domenici's got a bit of persuading to do, and unfortunately he has said that he will not support Bingaman's plan if it "threatens the overall energy legislation." But, his backing, even in principle, for the amendment is a striking development, and if anyone can bring other Republican senators on board to pass this measure, it is Senator Domenici.

As I've said in the past, I strongly support the McCain-Lieberman amendment, which mandates deeper reductions in emissions. That version seems destined to attract an insufficient number of votes, however, and like Senator Domenici I think the Bingaman alternative offers a fair middle ground/first step toward combating global warming. The chairman's support is certainly a welcome addition to the debate, and next week's discussions over the various alternatives will be fascinating to watch.


At 10:58 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...



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