The Emerging Climate Change Legislation

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 24, 2009

Democrats on the Hill appear to have cut a deal on a bill affecting climate change:

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has overcome one of the last big obstacles standing in the path of his landmark climate-change bill, cutting a deal with Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, who sought greater protections in the bill for farmers and other rural interests.

Their agreement sets the stage for a vote Friday in the House.

Under the deal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will oversee the offset program for farmers, and the House will seek further guidance from the Obama administration about the appropriate role for the EPA. And Waxman has agreed to ask the EPA to roll back its new requirements that farmers offset rural land developed in other countries. Both were major sticking points for rural members and the many agriculture associations opposed to the bill.

“We have an agreement, and we’re moving forward on Friday,” Waxman told reporters on Tuesday evening after he and Peterson met with moderate Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition. “We’re going to pass this bill.”

Asked if he would support the measure after a drawn-out negotiation with Waxman, Peterson said, “Yes.”

My friend, Jane Van Ryan sends me two links on this issue which are worth reading. They raise legitimate concerns regarding how many jobs will be killed by the Waxman-Markey legislation, as well as the costs involved. There are also concerns that the CBO’s analysis of the legislation–stating that it would only cost American families $175 per year to comply with the legislation–is deeply flawed.

Frankly, we have not heard enough about the climate change legislation to be comfortable with the prospect of an impending vote and the commensurate belief that we are doing the right thing by passing this legislation. There deserves to be a full and fair debate on the issue, but as we have learned with health care reform, full and fair debates are not what the Obama Administration and its allies in Congress want to have over legislation that they care about. The Administration and Congressional Democrats worry too much that a full and fair debate would expose the shortcomings in the legislation that they advocate, thus dooming it to failure.

I am sure that this is a great way to run a political machine. But as always, it is worth noting that it is a really bad way to make policy.

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