13 November 2009

Jobs and "Climate Light"

The comments in this Politico story on the climate bill may hint at whats to come, jobs, jobs, jobs and an inevitable focus on "climate light":

An aggressive White House push on jobs and deficit reduction in 2010 may be yet another sign that climate-change legislation will stay on the back burner next year.

“There is a growing chorus in the party that thinks we should be doing more to spur job creation and not necessarily tackle cap and trade right now,” said a moderate Democratic Senate aide.

White House officials told POLITICO on Friday that President Barack Obama plans curb new domestic spending beyond jobs programs and focus on cutting the federal deficit next year.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has hinted that Democrats plan to take up a job-creation bill, in the wake of the announcement of a 10.2 percent unemployment rate. In the House, some lawmakers are beginning to push a major highway bill for next year to focus on job creation.

None of this is promising for a major climate change bill. . .

Other moderate Democrats have pushed Reid to take up a “climate light” bill that focuses only on energy provisions included in the legislation — leaving the cap-and-trade provisions to be dealt with after the economy recovers.

The Energy and Natural Resources committee passed an energy bill with bipartisan backing in June. Dorgan and other say the vote signaled that a package including renewable fuels mandates, energy-efficiency measures, and increased domestic exploration could attract significant Republican support.

“Good policy is going to be left behind by the insistence that the climate change bill has to be done first or together,” warned Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.).

Obama and Democratic supporters of the bill have repeatedly said that legislation would create millions of new green jobs by providing incentives for businesses to invest in green technologies.

They also note that the Senate bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is deficit neutral, largely due to a Senate rule that prohibits major bills from adding $5 billion to the federal deficit in any of the five decades following its enactment.

“There’s just no credible way to turn these deficit-neutral bills into definitively-negative decisions for our country, especially since energy remains a top priority for the Obama administration and for the American people,” said a House Democratic aide close to the bill.

Aides say that legislation currently being drafted by Kerry and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) will also be deficit neutral and focus on economic growth.

“If environmental policy is not good business policy, you'll never get 60 votes,” said Graham. “So my goal is to try to make sure that we fashion environmental policy that will create millions of new jobs for Americans who are desiring to have new jobs.”