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Is There a Republican Alternative to Cap and Trade?

November 4, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

With a Republican House and a shrunken Democratic majority in the Senate, one of the big Democratic policy goals that we can safely kiss goodbye for the next few years is a cap-and-trade climate change bill. But with the uncertainty of 2012 and the pressing nature of the climate issue, Obama and the Democrats will probably still want to do something in the next session of Congress to make progress on the issue, even if it's not as strong as they want. Here's a look at where Democrats and Republicans could find agreement on climate change action.

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OC's AdTracker on the Bizarre Alaska Senate Race

November 2, 2010 - by Conor Kenny

For non-neurotic, rolling updates on election night, surf along with our Twitter account.

As you watch the election results come in tonight, keep an eye on the race to represent Alaska in the U.S. Senate. Lisa Murkowski narrowly lost her primary this spring against newcomer and Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then decided to run as an independent, but Alaska election law keeps her off the ballot because she lost a primary, so she's having to run as a write-in (which isn't easy with a last name like Murkowski). Miller now has the Republican nomination and a lot of Tea Party support, but had an ugly falling-out with Sarah Palin recently when he refused to say she was qualified to be president. However, he is now the official Republican nominee, so the Washington Republican establishment, as represented by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, is now backing him hard against Murkowski (whom it formerly backed), who now trying to take votes away from Democratic nominee Scott McAdams by running as a centrist.

Got all that?

The bizarreness of this race is reflected in the campaign ads being tracked on our Alaska Senate AdTracker page

 

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Schumer and Cardin Play Senate

August 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Acting on behalf of the full United States Senate, two senators took the afternoon out of their August recesses and returned to the Capitol this afternoon to pass a $600 billion border security bill, honor the late Sen. Ted Stevens, and advance legislation to protect guns from being taken by claimants in bankruptcy proceedings. You can watch the full 30-minute session and find more info about the legislation that inspired this mid-August-recess session by clicking through to read this post...

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Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] essentially announced the death of climate change legislation yesterday when he revealed the Democrats' plan to take cap-and-trade out of their energy bill and vote on it as a stand-alone amendment. Cap-and-trade simply does not have 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster. But that doesn't mean climate change won't be dealt with soon. The EPA has been given authority to regulate carbon dioxide and they have made it clear that they will use that authority if Congress doesn't pass a climate bill.

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The Republican Oil Spill Liability Alternative

June 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Democrats have tried three times to pass their bill to raise the liability cap on oil companies for the economic impact of spills, and three times Republicans objected -- once through Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] and twice through Sen. David Vitter [R, LA]. The Republicans call the Democrats' proposal for a $10 billion cap "arbitrary" and argue that it would be too high for all but the biggest oil companies to be involved in offshore drilling.

On May 25, after objecting to the Democrats' bill for the second time, Senator Vitter came out with his own alternative, called the Acceptance of Liability and Expedited Claims at Mississippi Canyon 252 Act. According to Vitter, his bill would completely remove the liability cap for economic damages on BP for the Deepwater Horizon spill and establish an expedited claims process.

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Despite Sens. John Kerry [D, MA] and Joe Lieberman [I, CT] recently proposing a new framework for comprehensive energy and climate change legislation designed to win bipartisan support, it's looking increasingly likely that there just isn't enough support in the Senate for passing such a bill this year. If that is in fact the case, the Environmental Protection Agency, as part of the Obama Administration's efforts to fight climate change, is planning to use a 2007 Supreme Court ruling giving them authority over greenhouse gasses to put new caps on emissions from automobiles and power plants.

That is unless Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] succeeds at blocking the EPA from taking action by passing her proposed resolution of disapproval S.J.Res.26. According to the New York Times, Murkowski and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] have struck a deal to allow the resolution to come up for a vote on June 10. The Times notes that under the agreement the resolution will not be susceptible to a filibuster, which means that it will only take 51 votes to pass. The resolution already has 41 co-sponsors, three of which are Democrats.

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Last week, 14 Democrats introduced a bill called the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010 to raise the current $75 million cap on economic damages caused by oil spills to $10 billion in order to ensure that BP is paying for the impact the spill is and will continue to have on the Gulf coast economy, not the business owners and taxpayers.

The bill's sponsors today put forth a unanimous consent request to pass the bill. But one senator, Lisa Murkowski [R, AK], objected. “Taking the liability cap from $75 million dollars to $10 billion dollars… 133 times the current strict liability limit, isn’t where we need to be right now,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor.

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D, WV] is the latest in a bipartisan series of lawmakers who are trying to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate greenhouse gases. Not-so-coincidentally, many of these lawmakers have ties to the industries that would be most affected.

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Six Republican senators have flip-flopped on the jobs bill having initially voted against it on Monday and then voting for it today.

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Congress Debates Native Hawaiian Rights

February 23, 2010 - by Eric Naing

It could be big day in Congress for Hawaii. The House is scheduled to vote today on a bill (H.R.2314) that would grant Native Hawaiians some of the same federal rights already given to American Indians and Native Alaskans.

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The Week In Review

January 22, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Despite being one day shorter than usual, this week felt like non-stop parade of big news – almost all of it bad for the Democrats. Click through for a point-by-point rundown of what's happened over the past week and how it effects the biggest issues in Congress going forward.

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What's Next For Climate Change?

January 21, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Scott Brown's upset victory in Massachusetts has rocked health care reform but the other big-ticket item on the Democratic agenda, comprehensive climate change legislation, has also been dealt a body blow.

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