Two of the major farm bill (HR 2419/S 2302) amendments supported by reform advocates, the Lugar-Lautenberg subsidy overhaul (S 2228) and Dorgan-Grassley subsidy cap (S 1486), have both failed to achieve the sixty votes necessary to overcome Republican filibusters.
On Tuesday, Lugar-Lautenberg was soundly rejected by a vote of 37-58 (the five presidential candidates in the Senate did not vote).
This morning, the cloture vote to end debate on Dorgan-Grassley narrowly failed by a vote of 56-43.
To gain the 60 votes a cloture vote on the energy bill (H.R. 6) needs for success, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has dropped the Renewable Energy Standard provision from the package, which still contains the 35 MPG by 2020 CAFE standard, a 36 billion gallon by 2022 biofuels mandate, appliance and building efficiency standards, and a broad tax/green jobs package. The White House has threatened to veto the bill for the CAFE standards and tax package. Reid held a cloture vote on the House version last week, which failed by a vote of 53-42. The new cloture vote is scheduled for Thursday.
The tax package was reworked by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.
The reworked tax package, which remains at about $21 billion paid for mostly by closing loopholes that favor oil and gas companies, changes the terms of the renewable production tax credit extension. The extension is limited to two years but the cap on credit an individual project can receive is dropped.
Other modifications include a new category of tax exempt bonds for electric transmission facilities, a $2500 tax credit for plug-in hybrid conversion kits, and the removal of an incentive for the construction of natural gas distribution infrastructure. Enforcement of prevailing-wage restrictions under Davis-Bacon was also dropped.
The full description of the tax package (“The Clean Renewable Energy and Conservation Tax Act of 2007”) is below.
In Bali, EE News reporter Darren Samuelson interviews David G. McIntosh, Sen. Lieberman (I-Conn.)’s counsel and legislative assistant for energy and the environment, about the prospects for Lieberman-Warner (S. 2191) on the Senate floor in 2008.
Before joining Senator Lieberman’s staff in April 2006, McIntosh served briefly as a Maryland assistant attorney general representing the state’s air agency. Before that, he worked at NRDC as a Clean Air Act litigator and regulatory lawyer. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1998, he clerked for a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, DC before joining the legal and lobbying firm Covington & Burling, for one year. He is not to be confused with former representative David M. McIntosh (R-Ill.), a strong fighter against environmental regulations.
“We could probably predict a half-dozen issues that would be top-line amendment issues,” McIntosh said during an interview at the United Nations’ global warming negotiations in Bali. “Some of them, we have the ability through negotiation and engagement to have those amendments be presented in a way that is not divisive, that does not divide up the votes that would otherwise support passage on the floor.”McIntosh hopes to be able to craft a nuclear title suitable for inclusion in Lieberman-Warner:
McIntosh predicted Senate negotiations over the climate bill from Lieberman and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) would center foremost on the economic implications tied to creating a first-ever mandatory cap on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. He also expects a strong push on incentives for nuclear power.
The bill’s lead cosponsors are interested in “seeing if it is possible to craft an amendment or to encourage others on nuclear enegry in ways that’d be seen as targetted and relevant and fitting within the confines of the bill rather than efforts to revive every type of support for nuclear power that anyone has ever thought of.”Sen. Kerry (D-Mass.), the only Senator in Bali, also spoke on Lieberman-Warner:
I can’t tell you precisely when, but we’re committed to having this debate regardless of whether or not we can pass it or where the votes are. We believe it’s an important marker, and we intend to make this part of the debate in the presidential elections of 2008.
In today’s Washington Post, former president Jimmy Carter penned the op-ed Subsidies’ Harvest Of Misery, throwing his support behind major reforms to the farm bill (H.R. 2419/S 2302/SA 3500), namely the Lugar-Lautenberg (S 2228/SA 3711) and Dorgan-Grassley (S.1486/SA 3508/SA 3786) amendments, saying “Both amendments would go a long way toward making the farm bill fair for farmers at home and abroad.”
Lugar-Lautenberg (the FRESH Act) is a broadly supported reform bill that would replace the current subsidy system with a yield-based insurance system. Dorgan-Grassley places a $250,000 annual cap on individual subsidies.Carter cites the current state of farm subsidies:
It is embarrassing to note that, from 1995 to 2005, the richest 10 percent of cotton growers received more than 80 percent of total subsidies. The wealthiest 1 percent of American cotton farmers continues to receive over 25 percent of payouts for cotton, while more than half of America’s cotton farmers receive no subsidies at all. American farmers are not dependent on the global market because they are guaranteed a minimum selling price by the federal government. American producers of cotton received more than $18 billion in subsidies between 1999 and 2005, while market value of the cotton was $23 billion. That’s a subsidy of 86 percent!He goes on to say that the fragile agrarian economies of third-world Africa are dependent on exports harmed by the domestic subsidies.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), today released a draft report entitled Political Interference with Climate Change Science Under the Bush Administration.
The report is based on the committee’s January 30 and March 19 hearings, depositions, and interviews of government officials on White House censorship and manipulation of governmental climate change science over the last 16 months.
Scientists, reports, and testimony from NOAA, NASA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Climatic Data Center, and the Environmental Protection Agency were affected.Findings include:
- Media requests to speak with federal scientists on climate change matters were sent to Council on Environmental Quality for White House approval
- The White House edited congressional testimony regarding the science of climate change
- CEQ Chief of Staff Phil Cooney and other CEQ officials made at least 294 edits to the Administration’s Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science Program to exaggerate or emphasize scientific uncertainties or to deemphasize or diminish the importance of the human role in global warming
- The White House insisted on edits to EPA’s draft Report on the Environment that were so extreme that the EPA Administrator opted to eliminate the climate change section of the report
- CEQ eliminated the climate change section of the EPA’s Air Trends Report
- CEQ Chairman James Connaughton edited the August 2003 EPA legal opinion disavowing authority to regulate greenhouse gases
We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.
However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”
Gore went on to warn that arctic sea ice is melting faster than previously expected, and that U.S. navy researchers estimate we may have ice-free Arctic Ocean as early as the summer of 2014.
CQ reports that yesterday evening a bipartisan deal was struck on how to manage the farm bill debate. The deal limits the number of amendments evenly between parties at twenty each. The farm bill had been stalled before the Thanksgiving recess and is under a veto threat.
As Sen. Reid announced this morning on the Senate floor, Sens. Harken and Chambliss will be managing the amendment process. Votes on the amendments and the bill will take place on Tuesday, December 11.
By a vote of 235-181, the House of Representatives passed the version of H.R. 6 which contains both House and Senate provisions (CAFE of 35 MPG by 2020, RES of 15% by 2020, oil/gas rollback with PTC, green jobs, and other provisions, RFS).
Today marks the dawn of a future with less dependence on foreign oil, more renewable energy, and a safer climate. This bill marks a turning point away from America’s untenable path of reliance on dirty fossil fuels that pollute our planet and link us to dangerous foreign regimes and towards a new energy independence future.
Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) successfully shepherded the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191) out of the Environment and Public Works Committee from yesterday’s markup with a 12-8 vote, Sen. Warner and the two independents (Lieberman and Sanders) joining the nine Democrats.
The vote of the Environment and Public Works Committee in favor of the Climate Security Act was a historic moment for our country and for my Committee.Ranking member Inhofe:
For me, it was the greatest legislative accomplishment of my political career of thirty years.
Finally, America is taking bold steps to avert the catastrophe that awaits our children and grandchildren if we do nothing.
Our bill has two goals…to fight global warming and to do it in a way that keeps our economy strong. That will be my focus in the coming weeks and months as we move the bill forward to the Senate floor.
This bill is the most far reaching global warming bill in the world and I am grateful to Senators Lieberman and Warner for breaching the partisan divide and unleashing a spirit of cooperation that puts the wind at our backs.
For the first time in history, a fatally flawed global warming cap-and-trade bill was passed out of committee. Not only is the entire cap-and-trade approach fatally flawed, but the Lieberman-Warner bill failed to improve today, as Democrat amendments were added. Instead of engaging in substantive debate, the Democrats chose to simply reject all serious efforts to mitigate the unintended consequences of this bill and ensure adequate future energy supplies for this nation.
The rejection of key amendments has guaranteed an enormous floor fight as many major issues were side-stepped. While the vote today was never in question, it did provide an opportunity for Republicans to expose the serious deficiencies of this bill. The full Senate now needs to look at a cost-benefit analysis of this bill. It is simply all economic pain for no climate gain. Numerous analyses have placed the costs at trillions of dollars. Even if you accept the dire claims of man-made global warming, this bill would not have a measurable impact on the climate.
Republicans, in a good faith effort, offered a conservative number of amendments [Ed.—150] to address the most important flaws in this bill. Unfortunately, they were rejected. As is, this bill will strike a devastating blow to American families, American jobs, and the American way of life.
We have had approximately 20 climate hearings on the impacts of climate change, but none on so called ‘solutions.’ [Ed.—other than this, this, this, this, this, this] Differing approaches to reducing emissions were never discussed. Instead, the Committee rushed to a single approach, without the aid of government analyses.
Within seven years, electricity prices are estimated to skyrocket 35 to 65 percent and will have a huge economic hit on households. These costs are far greater than the McCain-Lieberman bill that was voted down by the Senate two years ago. Additionally, the poor will be the hardest hit as they pay about five times more per month, as a percentage of their monthly expenditures, compared to wealthier Americans. By 2015 this bill is estimated to cost up to 2.3 million jobs [Ed.—by CRA International], and these lost jobs will go to China, India, and other emerging nations without carbon limits.
The timetable for House action on a sweeping energy bill appeared to be slipping Wednesday, as lawmakers attempted to nail down final details of the package.
The Rules Committee was still waiting to see exact language of the comprehensive measure (HR 6), casting doubt on whether the bill would reach the floor before Thursday.
Legislative aides said details still needed to be worked out on the measure’s tax provisions, which could require adjustment to cover a possible $1 billion shortfall in meeting pay-as-you-go budget rules.
Democratic leaders also were working to whip up votes for what is expected to be a close vote in the House, and to placate the White House, which earlier this week said it was considering a veto of the bill if it repeals subsidies for big oil companies and requires 15 percent of electricity produced by 2020 to come from renewable sources like wind and solar. . .
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said she believed that the bill would win support from enough Blue Dogs to pass the House.
“It will have the support of some of them. I hope it will be enough,” she said.
But Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said Tuesday that he would not support the legislation because it would repeal tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
Another Blue Dog, Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said he had been told the floor vote on the bill would probably slip to Thursday.