In this week’s Policy News, produced by ESA’s Policy Analyst Piper Corp: climate legislation delayed, acceleration of the process for Endangered Species listing, new Energy and Natural Resources bill in the House and the EU unveils environmental measure of GDP. Read the full Policy News here.
Senate delays climate bill, raising questions about Copenhagen. Senate Democrats no longer plan to unveil their climate and energy bill by September 28. They gave several reasons for the delay, including the healthcare debate, the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and the need for additional consultation from government experts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has yet to announce a new deadline for committees to finish their work on the bill, although he is standing by plans to hold a floor debate before the year is out. But with the country still reeling from last year’s Wall Street meltdown, some observers speculate that a climate bill may fall to third place, behind both healthcare and financial reform legislation.
Beyond the busy calendar, though, diplomatic considerations could be keeping the bill on hold. Most supporters agree that although it would be ideal to have climate legislation in place before this December’s UN negotiations in Copenhagen, a losing vote in the Senate could have far worse implications for an international agreement than non-action. Key to negotiations will be signs of significant progress-in lieu of a climate package, President Obama could present the clean energy components of the economic stimulus package passed earlier this year, or focus on using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to control greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and power plants. Both Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson would prefer to see the Senate pass a climate bill before December, but Jackson has indicated that her agency could step in if necessary. EPA’s recent endangerment finding could, if Congress is unable pass climate legislation, place the agency in charge of nationwide emission reductions under the Clean Air Act. For more information on the endangerment finding, see the April 23 edition of the ESA Policy News at: http://www.esa.org/pao/policyNews/pn2009/04232009.php