Why Climate Change Legislation May Be in the Works

Senator Barbara Boxer has indicated that Democrats — and possibly some Republicans — will issue a series of small and large bills related to climate change in the 113th Congress.

Photo Credit: Barnaby Chambers/ Shutterstock.com

If we see any Congressional action on climate in 2013, it’s likely to come from the Democrat-controlled Senate.

In recent weeks, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has indicated that Democrats — and possibly some Republicans — will issue a series of small and large bills related to climate change in the 113th Congress.

“I think you are going to see a lot of bills on climate change,” said Boxer to reporters earlier this month. She said that three other Senators already have bills in the works for pricing carbon and adapting infrastructure to intensifying extreme weather.

As Chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer is attempting to leverage concerns about climate after Superstorm Sandy and build a coalition of climate-conscious lawmakers to craft legislation. Yesterday, she talked about creating a “clearinghouse” on climate to help organize efforts. The Hill reports:

Boxer said she will co-chair the clearinghouse alongside the chairmen of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Boxer first announced the idea earlier in December, and it crystallized further at a meeting Tuesday, she said.

“We are going to review the latest information, we are going to work on supporting a major bill, we are also going to work on various smaller provisions that we think will move us forward and focus on green jobs, energy efficiency and making sure that we get the carbon out of the air, and work with the administration on some executive stuff,” she said in the Capitol.“So I think it is going to be a very major and important clearinghouse because as the science comes in, we are going to take a look at that science so that we are all up to date,” Boxer added.

She said it would be an “open forum” that will provide lawmakers a chance to raise topics of interest to them — such as reports from their states and actions in state legislatures — and ask questions too.

The clearinghouse builds on President Obama’s comments in his first post-election press conference. Although Obama failed to give any details about how he might approach climate in his second term, he talked about the need to have “a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials” on how to reduce carbon. Boxer’s climate change clearinghouse would provide a central place for lawmakers to consider the latest science, thus laying the groundwork for possible legislation.

However, even as action builds in the Senate, extreme resistance to climate in the Republican-held House would likely stall momentum on any major pieces of legislation. The Koch-funded and founded Americans for Prosperity has convinced more than 180 House lawmakers to take its “no carbon tax pledge” — including all GOP leaders in the House.

Stephen Lacey is a reporter/blogger for Climate Progress, where he writes on clean energy policy, technologies, and finance. Before joining CP, he was an editor/producer with RenewableEnergyWorld.com. He received his B.A. in journalism from Franklin Pierce University.
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