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Will the Democrats ever line up enough votes to get climate change legislation out of the Senate?
It’s looking doubtful now because Sen. James Webb (D-VA) is speaking out against pending cap-and-trade legislation, and he says he won’t support it. That’ll make it tough to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate to overcome Republican filibustering.
Webb announced this week he’s no fan of the bill from Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) that calls for a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Webb’s possible defection and “no” vote against the pending cap-and-trade bill seems to offset the Republican’s lone supporter of cap-and-trade, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
The cap-and-trade idea is too complex, would create a costly government bureaucracy and eventually run the coal industry out of business, Webb says.
Plus, the Virginian predicts that the only winners in cap-and-trade will be all the middlemen in the trading game who will make all the money. Webb is not joining the global-warming denier crowd. He just seems to think the cap-and-trade bill won’t get the job done — the job meaning energy security.
Instead of spending all that cap-and-trade money on carbon reductions, Webb has a different idea. He wants the government to spend $10 billion to eventually $100 billion to help prop up the nuclear power industry. To do this, he and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have proposed their own Clean Energy Act of 2009. Their use of terms like “clean” and “carbon-free” are generally euphemisms for nuclear power.
The Webb/Alexander proposal would also direct taxpayer money to study:
- carbon capture technologies
- non-ethanol biofuels
- electric vehicles and electrical storage
- cost-competitive solar power, and
- technology to reduce nuclear waste generation.
Webb and Alexander do not address greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. They say they hope to get their bill passed separately from the Boxer/Kerry climate change bill.
Note: The Webb/Alexander push to emphasize a nuclear option is echoed in a Graham/Kerry plan to expand nuclear power in the U.S. in exchange for creating the GHG cap-and-trade law.