With no climate bill in sight for years, advocates look elsewhere

Chris Moody Contributor
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Falling short of passing a comprehensive climate bill during the two years Democrats held a majority in Congress, policymakers who have pushed for major action will be forced to adopt a fresh strategy when the new Congress begins in January.

With no hope for a major bill in the next two years, those pushing for tighter controls on emissions will rely heavily on state action, executive mandates, and tax incentives and grants in the stimulus legislation instead, said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“We don’t have the votes for a comprehensive climate bill,” Boxer said. “So we’re going to go through state-by-state progress.”

Boxer cited California’s efforts to cap carbon emissions and the November defeat of Proposition 23, which would have put much of the state’s climate laws on hold until the employment rate dipped below a certain rate. She also applauded the 1,000 mayors who last year pledged to adopt the Kyoto climate protocol for their own cities and reduce carbon to pre-1990 levels by 2012.

The three-term senator was addressing the United Nations climate summit in Cancun, Mexico via a live webcast from the U.S. Capitol building.

Boxer promised to see a comprehensive climate bill through to a vote once Congress can gather enough support to get it passed, a vow that now seems unlikely to be fulfilled for years. House Republicans, who will control the climate committee in the 112th Congress and disbanded the The Select Committee on Global Warming, have signaled they will hold hearings that question climate scientists.

Boxer, who conceded that any climate-related action will face “robust debate” next year, blasted business interests for launching an “all out campaign” against legislation like “cap and trade” that would force companies to pay a tax on their carbon emissions. She added that despite the battle ahead on the issue, she saw “no bad consequences” to capping carbon emissions and other measures that would be in a comprehensive climate bill.

“We will have to play some defense,” she said. “I’m not blind to that.”

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