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No Bang, No Whimper, No Vote

Seven years later, climate bill collapses in U.S. Senate

It took seven years for a fairly straightforward, not-very-demanding energy conservation bill to die in the Senate – which it did this week.

During those seven years, the world burned through 217 billion barrels (9.1 trillion gallons) of oil. The United States consumed roughly a quarter of that.
Throw in all the other sources of energy we use, and we humans are burning through about 14.5 trillion watts of energy around the planet every day.

The Senate bill, sponsored by former Democrat Joe Lieberman and the Republican John McCain, would have taken a modest step to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in this country.

The day the bill died, the well-respected World Resources Institute issued a 60-page paper looking at existing laws that govern greenhouse gas pollution and asking if they can achieve the goal set by President Obama – a 17 percent reduction over 2005 by 2020 – at the international Copenhagen summit last December.

As things stand, the answer is: Not a chance. And there’s been little initiative from the White House. Some have noted that even George W. Bush did better than the current administration. At least he invited scientists and analysts to the White House, and required his cabinet to listen to presentations about climate change and then brief him on the topic. President Obama has not given a single substantial speech on energy conservation since taking office.

Washington observers say that Democrats may have concluded that it’s simply impossible for a Democratic president to pull together the votes to pass an energy/climate bill in the Senate. Only a Nixon-goes-to-China type president could bring enough Republicans along and be assured that Democrats would vote with him, too.

But how did this ever become a partisan issue in the first place?