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Down - - or Up? - - In Flames

OK, so while many environmental leaders are moaning the loss of the Warner-Lieberman climate bill (S2191) I think we may have actually won an important battle in the war to get Congress to take this issue seriously.

Given that the President told the world he would not sign a climate change bill that imposed the slightest cost on industry, no one could be surprised that Congress didn’t put a comprehensive bill on his desk. So why go through the charade of proposing and debating (not to mention reading aloud all 400+ pages, as they did in Congress this past week) a meaningful piece of legislation?

Because you try on a pair of shoes before you buy them, that’s why. This was another teachable moment, as were the dozen or more climate bills introduced in the past two years. Now Congress, which includes the next President, and Capitol Hill staffers have a much better understanding of what components of a climate action plan will work, who will pay for them, and where the landmines of passage or peril may be waiting.

We all learned a lot from this effort and its predecessors, but the most important lesson is to compare these sausage-making exercises against the growing drumbeat from the scientific community that we are running out of time. If that’s the final epitaph on the tombstone of S2191, then it will have been a short life well lived.