Senate Watch, Responses to Kerry-Graham: Brownback, Carper, Durbin, Gregg, Inhofe, Kerry, Levin, Murkowski, Sessions, Voinovich
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Washington Post Because while we’re projecting these things, people are having to deal with their basic lives on it, and this is going to be very expensive.
E&E News We need to make sure that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the human resources that they need to enable them to do the job.
I will be working with Joe Lieberman and others to create a more robust nuclear title when the bill comes to the floor, and among the things that we will be working on is, we want to make sure we invest the right amount of money in nuclear recycling, nuclear reprocessing, to try to determine what is the best path to try and follow there.
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
To the extent that people have ideas for further streamlining, should we look at those? Sure. But keep in mind a lot has been done, there is an incredibly heavy workload for the NRC already, and we have got make sure they have the resources they need.
E&E News It’s not a bad starting point to try and engage as many people as you can to find out if there is some common ground here. And I’m open to these things. I think both of them carry with them environmental concerns, serious environmental concerns. But if they’re going to deal with those honestly and directly, then maybe there’s room for conversation.
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
We also have a majority leader who’s interested in the nuclear power issue, too. So we have to be sensitive to that. But I think it’s perfectly all right to start with an agenda that is inclusive and try to build on that.
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
E&E News If nuclear comes under that and has proper incentives, that could be a major step forward.
John Kerry (D-MA)
E&E News When I first saw it, I was disappointed that they’d have a joint communiqué of any kind. It doesn’t matter what happens, for Kerry, if he were inclined to move in that direction. It’s not going to stay, anyway. I think we all understand that. It wouldn’t survive. You always have the House to deal with. Pelosi. And I can’t see that it would.
E&E News We really haven’t gotten specific about a Kerry-Graham bill. What we’re really trying to do is get a coalition together to make this pass. What shape that takes at this point, I think, is down the road. I suppose it can develop into a bill, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be ours. It could part of a leadership effort, or some other effort.
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
E&E News (on Kerry-Graham) It’s a reasonable position to take, provided they are both comfortable with going after the OCS and after nuclear power.
E&E News I think what Senator Graham and Senator Kerry have put out there is an indicator that, hey, things are possible if we’re willing to perhaps look at how you might meld some of the different ideas that are out there.
Instead of cutting emissions at any cost, we should be working on a policy that incorporates the best ideas of both parties—a policy that accounts for our near-term energy needs, limits costs, and is flexible enough to work under different economic circumstances.
E&E News Now, to be sure, they wrote a column, not a bill. Their outline could be improved, and there’s no guarantee legislation along those lines would pass the Senate. But in my opinion, the framework they laid out in 1,000 words is already better than the policies it took the House 1,400 pages to impose.
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
E&E News Neither accounts for the cumulative impact of every provision. Limitations and caveats are routinely noted.
George Voinovich (R-OH)
Mobile Press-Register Our conceit is such that we think we can manage the climate, we think we can manage a huge portion of the most dynamic economy the world’s ever known, and I’m wary of it.
E&E News “No, it’s not a game changer,” Voinovich said about Kerry and Graham. “It just sounds really good on paper.”
Contributors to the liberal community blog DailyKos have launched an environment-themed offshoot, DK GreenRoots. The site is led by Timothy Lange, who uses the handle Meteor Blades, Doug Snodgrass (dsnodgrass), and the Daily Kos contributor known as “Patriot Daily.”
Another Daily Kos project, led by contributor RL Miller, is the Adopt-A-Senator campaign on climate change legislation, with community members contributing profiles on the senators and where they stand on climate and energy policy, in particular the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) and the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733).
Hill Heat is tracking the published Adopt-a-Senator diaries at hillheat.com/pages/aas.
E&E News reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham believes man-made global warming and oil dependence represent a sufficient threat to work on climate legislation, even if it is seen as a policy victory for President Obama.Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Tom Carper (D-Del.)
“I think it’s fair to say the vast majority of senators are very pro-nuclear and so the way I vote on the amendment is not the deciding factor, because in this case you have a sea change of support beyond where I am.”
“One of the things we need to devote some resources to is beginning to figure out what to do with the spent nuclear fuel rods. Do we recycle them? Do we reprocess them? I think there’s problems with current technology on both of those. We need to figure out what to do with them. We can safely store the stuff on site. And we’ll do for several decades.”
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
“The legislation as drawn provides enormous incentives for the generation of electricity from sources that don’t create carbon. Nuclear is right there. So there’ll be a lot of incentives, just from the way the allowance system will be set up.”
“A guy like Senator Kerry is looking for coalitions. If you had a bill that would allow for responsible offshore drilling, a robust nuclear power title, I think you could get some Republican votes for a cap-and-trade system.”
John Kerry (D-Mass.)
“I think the planet is heating up. I think CO2 emissions are damaging the environment and this dependence on foreign oil is a natural disaster in the making. Let’s do something about it. I’d like to solve a problem, and if it’s on President Obama’s watch, it doesn’t bother me one bit if it makes the country better off.”
“Every idea is on the table. We’re going to work in a bona fide way with everybody to see how to bridge a gap here. We’ve got to get a 60-vote margin. That means you’ve got to legislate, which means you have to compromise.”
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
“There’s a nuclear title and it invites discussion on that. I’m willing to sit down with anybody and talk seriously about how we proceed in a serious way.”
“There’s more common ground than there has been with health care. It just depends on what it is, but again, I think people are willing and open to talk about any energy that helps our country to put us back in the driver’s seat again.”
“I think there’ll be some beginnings of it in the committee process, but I think the whole bill, given so many different committees are working on it, the bill will ultimately come together on the floor. I think we’d be naive to think that that’s not true.”
Bingaman: Ted Turner Working 'To Persuade More People in the Senate to Assist with Climate Change Legislation'
On September 18, Sen. Bingaman (D-N.M.) told a local activist that media magnate Ted Turner visited his office to ask what he can do to convince more senators to support climate legislation. Turner owns several vast ranches in New Mexico, established as wildlife preserves. “If we know something about the problem and don’t do it,” Turner has previously commented, “then we don’t deserve to live.”
BINGAMAN: He came in this week to lobby me on – or not lobby me really, but just basically talk about what needs to be done to get some type of climate change legislation enacted. He’s very committed on that issue, and part of what he’s taken on – I mean he’s done an awful lot, as you know, with support for the United Nations – but on climate change he’s committed as well. And he was in here with some of his key people to talk about what he could do to persuade more people in the Senate to assist with climate change legislation.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Environment & Public Works Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Energy & Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will join other Republican senators tomorrow to discuss the national energy tax in the Boxer-Kerry bill.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Environment & Public Works Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) Energy & Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) Senate Republican Policy Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.) Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) Other Senate Republicans
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduce climate legislation.
East lawn of the Capitol
Corner of 1st and Constitution NE
Across from the Supreme Court
Senate Watch: Bond, Boxer, Brown, Cantwell, Carper, Corker, Inhofe, Kerry, Lincoln, Nelson, Stabenow, Udall
The rhetoric and campaigning heats up as Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) prepare to unveil climate legislation on Wednesday, September 30th.Kit Bond (R-MO)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch They were 30,000 petitions gathered by the Missouri Association of Electric Cooperatives urging Bond, R-Mo., to oppose present versions of cap-and-trade legislation to combat global warming as Congress gets ready to see a new bill this week. “I think certain people pushing this bill see me as one of the biggest thorns in their sides. If they don’t now, they will,” said Bond, who was on hand to receive the postcards.
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
E&E News “The legislation is going to be very interesting to people because we did some really different things and we’re excited about it.”
E&E News “It’s going to need a lot of work.” Brown said he did not expect the Boxer-Kerry bill to include language adopted in the House that tries to assist energy-intensive manufacturing industries, including steel, pulp and paper and cement. “My understanding is they did not include the House language on manufacturing. But I’ve been talking to them about it. They are very open to it. They are in no way dismissive.”
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
E&E News Both Brown and Stabenow said they would welcome the release of the Senate bill even though it will give critics something tangible to target. “It always does. There is always something to shoot at. But I think it is the right step, and then we start working to improve it.”
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Des Moines Register “We are seeing a system that is just inherent with special interests.”
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Sussex Countian “We must act to reduce black carbon – a dangerous pollutant emitted by old, dirty diesel engines like those in some school buses and thought to be the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide.”
Des Moines Register Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called the proposed credit trading a “Rube Goldberg notion” that would wind up “transferring wealth out of this country to other countries around the world.”
John Kerry (D-MA)
Inhofe “I think the best way to help Sen. Kerry define cap-and-trade is to turn to Rep. John Dingell ( D-MI ), who said that cap-and-trade ‘is a tax, and a great big one.’ No matter the semantic games employed, or the extent to which Democrats wish to hide the truth from the American people, cap-and-trade will mean more job losses, more pain at the pump, and higher food and electricity prices for consumers. Despite the post-modern denial of ‘the truth’, in which words can mean whatever one chooses, the legislation on display next week will be cap-and-trade, pure and simple. And if the House Waxman-Markey bill is any guide, it will showcase a massive expansion of government mandates, spending, taxes, and energy rationing, all with meaningless effect on climate change. I hope we have an open, transparent, civil debate about cap-and-trade and energy security. It’s critical that we get this right, for in order to get American moving again, we need an abundant, reliable domestic energy supply that creates jobs and keeps energy prices affordable for businesses, consumers, and families.”
E&E News “It will be out next week. We will meet our target. I said I would introduce it by the end of the month, and we will introduce it on the 30th, Wednesday.”
E&E News “I don’t know what ‘cap and trade’ means. I don’t think the average American does. This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it’s a pollution reduction bill.”
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
E&E News “I hope what we’ve done is constructive and well-received. I have no pretensions, and neither does Barbara, that this will be the final product. It is a starting point, a commitment, full-fledged, across party lines to do what we need to do to protect the planet for the next century.”
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
E&E News “I have certainly indicated to them that I am looking forward to the role that agriculture can play. Our hope is that we will be able to offer recommendations, and we will hope that those will be some recommendations that can be incorporated into the bill. I don’t think it will be a necessity that we have to mark anything up. I hope it won’t be.”
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
E&E News “I don’t know that it changes opinions necessarily, but at least you can talk about specific provisions, and maybe the debate can narrow down to specific items, as opposed to just generally whether you are for or against the idea.”
E&E News “We will certainly be very involved with allocations. You can expect Finance to hold hearings and play a specific role.”
Mark Udall (D-CO)
E&E News “We will have to take a look at the language and then determine it from there.”
University of Colorado at Boulder Colorado Sen. Mark Udall commended the university for the unique effort to localize and promote better understanding of climate change in Colorado. “I would encourage all Westerners to take action to address this critical issue by using this new tool to discover ways to conserve our region’s valuable and limited resources. I hope this Web site will open many minds – not only to the enormous challenge climate change poses for our communities – but also to the opportunities we can pursue to strengthen our economy and promote a more sustainable energy future.”
Speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit, President Barack Obama said “the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.” E&E News interviewed Senators on their schedule for action.John Barrasso (R-WY)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
“Nearly 1 in 10 Americans are looking for work. President Obama’s scheme is for less American energy production. Less energy production will mean fewer jobs for Americans.”
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also said yesterday that he is still planning a markup for key pieces of the climate bill that deal with international trade and allocation of allowances. “I’m going to take my cues largely from leader Reid to see what his schedule is, and how quickly climate change is moving this year. If it looks like it’s clearly moving, we’re going to mark up.”
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
For her part, Boxer would not give any specifics when asked about her timeline for moving the bill through the Environment and Public Works Committee. “We’re going to mark up shortly. As soon as we’ve held the requisite number of hearings.”
John Kerry (D-MA)
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was also circumspect about Obama’s call for moving the climate bill. “I want to get to all of these issues this year, as the president has asked us to. But I think Senator Reid is reflecting the reality of the calendar, and we just have to see what we end up with. Senator Boxer is preparing for the debate. She’s ready. But the question is whether we have the time to treat this issue as it should.” “The Europeans are our friends and allies and we need to work with them and the rest of the world on this climate change issue. But unfortunately, the European Union doesn’t have control over the Senate calendar. And Senator Reid, I think, is being honest that this is becoming problematic the longer it takes for us to get to health care.”
John McCain (R-AZ)
Boxer and Kerry are still aiming to release their legislation before the end of the month, though Kerry yesterday tried to give himself a little bit of wiggle room for its formal unveiling. “That’s our current plan. But we’ve got a lot of drafting to do between now and then. But we’re working on it.”
Harry Reid (D-NV)
“I’ll take second place to no one on climate change. I introduced the first cap-and-trade bill on the Senate floor. I introduced the second. All of them had nuclear power as a component. The radical environmentalists are driving the agenda. And for someone to say that they have a robust nuclear element, I’d love to see it. There’s been no indication of it.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday sidestepped a question about whether he would hold a vote before the end of the year on the Boxer-Kerry legislation. “We’re going to push climate as hard and as fast as we can.”
Senate Watch, Senate Under Pressure: Cardin, Carper, Durbin, Inhofe, Kerry, Lautenberg, Lugar, McCain, Murkowski, Nelson, Warner, Whitehouse
“Sometimes in this country the greatest deliberative body in the world acts as though it is the only deliberative body in the world, and that we should wait until it gets its healthcare passed,” the EU’s ambassador to the US, John Bruton, has complained. “The world cannot wait on the Senate’s timetable.”Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
E&E News “We’re not at 60 votes yet. But there are a lot of potential senators who could be part of that 60.” “We think we can get Republican support for this bill. Not just one senator, but several.” “It’s not easy to predict how we’ll complete the work this year. But we’re making every effort to get it done this year. We’re certainly working toward concrete progress before the Copenhagen meetings. I think we’re clearly working with the goal of action this year.”
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Tom Carper “We always talk about silver linings. The fact we’ve slowed down on health care I think gives us a chance to do a better job on the clean energy front. We need to take advantage of that.”
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
The Hill “I wish we could have done everything we had to do by now, but it just takes time. It’s a new president, a new Congress and a big agenda. It just takes time.”
John Kerry (D-MA)
USA Today If the deal making in Copenhagen leads to a new pact that would harm the U.S. economy, “no such treaty or agreement can be approved by the Senate,” says Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
E&E News Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), Boxer’s lead co-pilot in writing the climate bill, said that the authors are in talks with their fellow Democrats on carbon market oversight, as well as funding for clean coal technology, other low-carbon energy technologies and adaptation. “There are a lot of different pieces,” Kerry said. Asked how often he is counting votes, Kerry replied, “Every day.”
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
The Hill “The U.S. has been dragging its feet for eight years.”
Dick Lugar (R-IN)
E&E News As for specifics, Boxer had been under pressure from her left to ramp up the House-passed bill’s 2020 target from 17 percent to 20 percent. “I don’t have to prevail on Senator Boxer,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). “She knows what’s right.” “I’m feeling pretty good about the tactics, the strategy, that as much as possible, we’d like it to include Republicans. The one thing I believe, bipartisanship is a means, not an ends.”
John McCain (R-AZ)
The Hill “I don’t know that we’ve pulled back. It’s just the formulation from the House I find objectionable on many grounds. Without jumping up and down any further, I think more constructive ways of fighting climate change can be found and I’ll be working to find it.”
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
E&E News When asked about Bruton’s criticism, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) shot back, “Well, I don’t think there are 10 Americans that know who he is.”
Washington Post “I believe very strongly that action on climate change has to include meaningful reductions. We have also got to make sure that we don’t kick the economy in the head.”
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
The Hill “There are some who are saying that we have to hurry up and do it yesterday because Copenhagen is coming. This is a serious enough issue that we must take the time to do it right.”
E&E News “The alphabet agencies are not the fourth branch of government, and they ought to take judicial notice of what’s happening and what’s not happening in the Senate,” Nelson said last week when asked about the prospect of EPA climate regulations.
Mark Warner (D-VA)
The Hill Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who opposed a global warming bill creating a cap-and-trade system last year, said he doesn’t pay much attention to what people from other countries say about the Senate. “We’re going to do it the way we think it’s appropriate to do it. And we will not be driven by their criticisms.”
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
The Hill “I’m not sure that the Senate is going to be dictated by the timing in December. It would be helpful to go to that very important meeting with legislation, but I’m not sure people are going to feel comfortable rushing it.”
The Hill Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said the EU is right to blame the Senate for blocking long-needed action. “Partly, it’s the fact that healthcare is crowding everything else out, but it’s also partly because the polluting industries see the Senate as a place where they can hold 40 votes,” Whitehouse said.
Senate Watch: Boxer, Brown, Chambliss, Durbin, Feingold, Grassley, Johanns, Lincoln, Nelson, Rockefeller
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
E&E News For her part, Boxer brushed aside Lincoln’s public opposition to the cap-and-trade bill. “She’s such an expert on agriculture. It’s great,” Boxer said. “And I look forward to working with her on all of the issues, including climate.”
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Reuters “People are so focused on healthcare, there haven’t been a lot of discussions,” on the climate bill worries, Brown added. Meanwhile, Senator Blanche Lincoln, who is taking over the chairmanship of the influential Senate Agriculture Committee, on Wednesday fretted climate change legislation would hurt farm profitability through higher energy costs. It would be “a heavy lift” to pass a climate change bill this year, she predicted. “In this economy, it is important to take it one step at a time,” she said as she praised the pending energy bill.
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
E&E News In contrast to the Democrats, several GOP members of the agriculture panel said Lincoln’s recent comments against the climate bill indicate she could be independent of Democratic leadership. “I think it could, but I don’t know,” said ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). “I can’t jump inside her mind and see. It has the potential to change it.”
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Reuters “It’s a difficult schedule” with many members already “anxious” about healthcare reform, Senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat, told Reuters when asked about prospects this year for a bill to cap emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Wisconsin Business “I’m not signing onto any bill that rips off Wisconsin,” Feingold declared, arguing the bill’s mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions could put the coal-dependent Badger State at an economic disadvantage compared to other regions and nations. “Western Wisconsin is particularly strong in being concerned about this because of their reliance on coal,” Feingold said of the bill, which has already passed the House. “There is a real possibility … that it will be unfair to Wisconsin and Wisconsin ratepayers.” In addition to fixing the bill’s carbon allocations to put the Midwest on better economic footing with the rest of the country, Feingold was among 10 senators to recently raise the possibility of levying tariffs on other nations – including China – that may not practice comparable environmental responsibility. ”Why should we leave ourselves completely exposed while they just get to go forward?” Feingold asked.
U.S. Senate Well, I think cap-and-trade is pushed back anyway because it’s probably more sweeping in its impact on the economy than even what we’re talking about, health care. But I don’t think, particularly, our committee’s got time to do both. And our committee isn’t the only one involved in cap-and-trade because the Energy and Environment Committees haven’t put out anything yet at this point. So I don’t think we’ll act until they act. But it’s become somewhat controversial, as well. Well, I would say the House bill is very, very controversial. And I can tell you, right now, I wouldn’t vote for the House bill. But the – I got to wait and comment on the Senate bill after the committee in the Senate puts a bill out.
I would like to not look at legislation within the Congress. I’d like to focus my attention on a worldwide agreement. Because if we don’t include China and India, we’re going to export all of our manufacturing. And that’s one reason why I’m against the House bill. Senate bill might not be much better. It might take into consideration the really devastating impact it has on the economy of the Midwest, because we produce much – so much for coal. We might be able to do better than that in the House. But that’s still not going to solve the problem of an unlevel playing field for all of America versus China and India. So a worldwide agreement has two advantages. One, it either brings China and – it either brings China and India in under the same caps we have, so we have a level playing field, so we won’t export our manufacturing, all of it to China. And it also has the benefit of requiring a two-thirds vote in the United States Senate before you can get it passed. So it seems to me that we have a better chance of being fair to America, and if it isn’t fair to America, it takes an extraordinary majority to get it through, and presumably if it’s not fair to America, it’s not going to get through the United States Senate.
What I’ve read about the economics of it, and studying particularly FAPRI – you know, University of Missouri and Iowa State and their economic studies – I have – and there’s other economists as well – say that there’s a little bit of benefit to trading, but it falls so much to timber that it seems to me that it’s not good – it’s not going to be beneficial to farming. And – and consequently, I have real doubts about it. I’m not going to reject everything Senator – or Secretary Vilsack says about it, but what I’ve studied, I have great deal of doubt about it being fair to American agriculture. Not – and the main reason for that is: Not giving us enough credit, going back 20 years, for what we have done already through minimum tillage, or no tillage, to cut down on energy use and putting CO2 into the air.
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Well, I’d be foolish if I didn’t give – I’d be foolish if I didn’t give it some consideration because there’s a massive amount of scientists that feel that it does. But there’s also an increasing number of scientists that have doubt about it. And so, not being a scientist, I don’t know exactly where to say only those things that are really quantifiable, and temperature has risen. But the scientific aspect that I still reserving judgment on is the extent to which it’s manmade or natural. And it’s reasonable, considering that there’s at least a natural factor in it, because historically, and you can go to the core drillings in the glaciers to get proof of this, that we’ve had decades and decades, and maybe even centuries of periods of time when there’s been a tremendous rise in temperature, and then a tremendous fall in temperature. And all you’ve got to do is look at the little ice age of the mid-last millennia as an example. And so we’ve got to single out what’s natural and what’s manmade before you can make policy. Now, a lot of members of Congress and most environmentalists are – are absolutely convinced manmade is the – is the factor – chief factor here. But I – I want to, before I vote on it, be more conclusive in my judgment, and I haven’t reached that conclusion at this point. But it’s enough to know that I think that even if it is manmade entirely, and so there’s justification for the legislation, you still have to deal with the reality factors that domestically there’s a very unlevel playing field between California and New York that benefit financially from it, and the Midwest and the Southeast United States that’s going to be hurt; and then the unlevel playing field if you don’t include India and China, an unlevel playing field with the United States versus those countries. And so – so we don’t want to lose all of our manufacturing to China. We’ve already lost a lot. We – it’s better to have an international agreement and include China and India in it.
Houston Chronicle Market volatility and higher fuel and fertilizer prices may make cap-and-trade practices a hardship for farmers, said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., and former U.S. secretary of agriculture. “There are more losers than winners with this in agriculture,” Johanns said.
Farm Policy “If you are in the dairy industry, which is absolutely going broke at the moment, if you’re in the pork industry — and one pork producer recently said to me, he said ‘I’m 30 days from being bankrupt’ — if you’re in the cattle industry that hasn’t made money for two years, this is pretty much a disaster for them, isn’t it?”
Omaha World-Herald Unfortunately, the costs of cap-and-trade are real, while so far the benefits for farmers and ranchers are theoretical. Nebraska producers are realists. And realists sift through rhetoric to focus on facts. I commend the secretary for acknowledging that energy costs would go up and rural America is more likely to feel the pinch. . . . There was no estimate of the impact of increased costs on livestock production. This industry represents 57 percent of ag income in Nebraska and more than 50 percent of ag sales nationwide — apparently hog, cattle and poultry are not “agriculture” by the administration’s definition. There was no state-by-state analysis of the impact of cost increases on agriculture production. Nebraska producers pay costs based on local prices, not national averages. And there was nothing regarding the fruit and vegetable industry, representing 15 percent of ag sales nationwide. So let’s add that up — the USDA’s analysis ignores roughly two-thirds of American agriculture. Yet it unequivocally states that cap-and-trade is good for American agriculture? Furthermore, the USDA has assumed that free allowances would be sufficient to keep fertilizer prices from rising but provides no explanation for how many allowances will be needed. . . . Lastly, the secretary fails to mention perhaps the most critical point: The bill would fail to achieve its purported environmental goal of stopping climate change because agriculture producers and manufacturing in China, India and Brazil would in no way be affected by the bill. Without them, the impact on temperature is negligible, a fact acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency. . . . So what are we left with? A bill that would place additional tax burdens on American businesses during a severe recession for no discernible environmental gain. A bill that would ask Nebraskans to trust the federal government to provide enough free allowances so the increased energy costs would not put them out of business. Like the secretary, I am supremely confident that American agriculture can adapt. But that’s no justification to support a bad bill. While Americans will face down any challenge facing them, their lawmakers should not be in the business of creating additional ones.
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Farm Week Now After health care, Johanns sees climate debate as the next hot button for Congress this fall: “President Obama wants that, and I think it’s going to be one of the next issue queued up, But the feeling in farm country is quite different – he argues Nebraska farmers are “enormously skeptical, if not downright opposed” to proposed greenhouse emissions caps projected to impact future electrical, fuel, and input costs. “You’ll pay more for fertilizer and diesel fuel and electricity to run your irrigation pump,” Johanns warned during an RFD Radio/FarmWeek interview Monday. “On the other side, I think the benefits are very, very uncertain. I think this idea that farmers are going to make money by trading credits is very uncertain promise. “If I were a farmer out there, I’d want the certainty of what I’m doing now, and even at that, that can be very uncertain. Add cap-and-trade to it and what you add is higher input costs with no promise of what comes out on the other end.” In charting marketable ag carbon “offsets,” the House plan does not consider conservation tillage and other “past good practices” that can reduce or trap carbon emissions, and Johanns believes that likely will be “a point of contention” in the Senate. Given the “free” emissions allowances the House proposes to allocate to various sectors in exchange for their support of the plan, he questions how a demand-driven ag credit market could “get up-and-running.” At the same time, he noted “the rest of the world just isn’t where we’re at” in terms of proposed climate policy, and new regulations could put U.S. producers at a serious competitive disadvantage. Some lawmakers have supported an “off-ramp” provision (“It is gaining some ground), but he fears that if the Environmental Protection Agency or other bureaucratic interests were responsible for administering the provision, “we might never get on the off-ramp.”
E&E News “Without a doubt there are opportunities for us to be able to make recommendations in terms of where we hope that the climate change bill or cap-and-trade bill that EPW is working on is going to go,” Lincoln told reporters in a conference call yesterday.
Reuters “All I’m saying is I think it (passage of a climate bill) is a heavy lift for the Senate” in a session filled with major legislation, she said. Climate change legislation “presents some issues for the farm community,” said Lincoln.
Wonk Room “Making sure as we do move forward, that we don’t do so putting a disproportionate burden on our hardworking farm families and our agriculture communities across this country. They do a tremendous job providing food and fiber for the world. While it isn’t necessarily my preference to move on cap-and-trade legislation in the Senate this year, the Senate is going to move on climate change legislation in the future.”
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Reuters “In this economy, it is important to take it one step at a time,” she said as she praised the pending energy bill.
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Reuters “We have enough on our plate at the moment (with the fight over healthcare reform). It’s questionable to open another front.” Instead, Nelson said the energy bill could be passed as a stand-alone bill, calling it “far less controversial” and “necessary.”
E&E News Climate change is individuals,” Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said yesterday. “It’s not so much committees and what your position is on committees.”