Create a Climate CBO

Reports about what will and what won’t be in next week’s Kerry-Graham-Lieberman energy bill are growing more and more troubling. Check out these articles from Treehugger and Mother Jones on the bill’s likely provisions.

A lot of environmental groups are going to support this bill on the theory that it’s better than nothing. Others will oppose it, citing the provisions that ban the EPA and state governments from acting more aggressively than Congress. They’ll say that the bill stymies further progress, and that we can do better post-filibuster reform but only if we don’t mislabel this as “progress” now. I’m not sure who’s right. I’ve been inclined to support this bill all along and have urged Senator Ben Nelson to vote for it, but these latest reports are troubling. I’ll make up my mind next week, once the bill actually drops and rumors become fact (or don’t).

It would be much easier figuring out if this bill is worth supporting if Congress had an environmental equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). I think we need a Congressional Climate Office or Congressional Environmental Office that would similarly “score” bills not for their financial cost or effect on the budget but for their carbon footprint and their environmental impacts. We already require Environmental Impact Statements for many construction projects; why not do so for bills and laws, as well?

An official climate “score” on KGL would go a long way towards helping lawmakers, energy experts, and environmentalists balance the bill’s provisions against each other and against the status quo. KGL will contain many compromises and it will contain many steps forward; a CCO could give at least one formal estimate on how the positives and negatives stack up. Whether this particular bill passes or not, it’s time for Congress to create a Congressional Climate Office to better steward the country’s landscapes and resources.

Note: I am not writing on behalf of any of the environmental groups for which I’ve volunteered and/or worked. Many would probably disagree with my assessment of KGL. This post is solely my own.

Tags: Kerry Graham Lieberman, Climate change, Environment (all tags)



this bill is atrocious

I didn't think Waxman-Markey was worth the compromises made, and KGL is much worse.

Any environmental group that gives its blessing to this bill will never get another dime from me (and I belong to a lot of them). Banning states from adopting tougher standards than the federal standards is totally unacceptable. That would have prevented almost all the progress we've made in the past few decades.


by desmoinesdem 2010-04-23 06:04PM | 1 recs
RE: this bill is atrocious

amen. That's a provision that has to go.

by vecky 2010-04-24 01:03AM | 1 recs
RE: this bill is atrocious

You know where that provision would make more sense? The immigration bill. What a great way to overturn the unconstitutional Arizona law.

On a related note, and I'll post on this next week after the bill is formally unveiled, but Politico has an article saying that with immigration coming first, it may not actually get a vote this year. That strikes me as a good thing. Normally I'd be screaming bloody murder given the climate change "tipping point," but this bill has gotten so bad and come next year we can have filibuster reform. The difference between what we can pass now and what we should be able to pass next year may actually make it worth it.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-24 01:00PM | 0 recs
RE: this bill is atrocious

I'm a little concerned on the lack of consensus among the progressive caucus/netroots on which to push first. 

And I don't think passage will be any easier next year either even with filibuster reform. Depending ofcourse on how Nov turns out.

by vecky 2010-04-24 06:35PM | 0 recs
I Haven't read the Senate Bill

and I don't even know if there's one working its way through the House. What I do know is that Obama is a FAIL on the environment, and the feckless Democrats deserve the most extreme scorn that we can muster. In a nutshell: KILL THE BILL!

by QTG 2010-04-24 07:06AM | 0 recs
RE: I Haven't read the Senate Bill

One passed the House last June. And this isn't Obama's bill - the White House had very little to do with writing it. If you want to look at people rather than substance, look at Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman.

Anyway, the second half of this article is a good review of Obama on the environment:

by Nathan Empsall 2010-04-24 01:02PM | 0 recs


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