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Scott Brown and Climate Change

January 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Yesterday I mentioned Sen. Byron Dorgan’s [D, ND] prediction that Congress would give up on passing climate change legislation this year.

Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts’ Senate election seems to put the nail in the climate-change-bill coffin . “I oppose a national cap and trade program because of the higher costs that families and businesses would incur,” Brown’s campaign website states.

Instead, he wants to boost the use of new energy sources without tamping down on the polluters. “In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities.”

There is a line of thinking that if the Democrats abandon health care reform because of the Brown win, the climate bill’s chances could be revived because the Democrats would be looking for a major legislative victory to tout heading into the 2010 elections.

But I’m not so sure. Political victories, on either side, generally create a snowballing effect and lead to more victories. Momentum is key here. If the Democrats were able to score a progressive victory that energized their base, like a strong health care bill or real financial reform, they could likely ride public support onto other progressive victories, like climate change legislation. But if health care dies, the Republican base will get the energy boost and congressional Republicans will have the winds at their backs to block just about anything the Democrats might try to do.

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  • cerebralscrub44 01/20/2010 9:26am

    Brown has an interesting reason to delay much-needed climate change legislation – the EIA, Energy Information Administration’s recent report finds that

    “Overall oil imports would decline by 590,000 barrels per day by the year 2020 under ACES,” which would save $658 billion, equivalent to $5,600 in savings per household. This bill is good for the economy, and for American households and anyone who thinks differently should turn off Fox news and read accurate analysis. Quote thanks to

  • lostokie 01/20/2010 12:59pm

    This “savings” doesn’t take into account higher costs of oil due to CO2 limits created by cap and trade. And your article attacks an API article as misinformation, but doesn’t say why. The API article seems reasonable, that if domestic refineries face additional costs from cap and trade, foreign oil would become relatively cheaper. Why is that wrong?

  • Comm_reply
    cerebralscrub44 01/21/2010 6:06am

    The savings projected by the EIA in accordance with what ACES will do depends upon investment in renewable energy sources, increased efficiency, and a revamp of our extremely outdated electrical grid. So as you say, of course it is logical that the price of oil will increase with the inception of a price on carbon emissions, but the price will increase dramatically anyway because our supplies of oil are decreasing rapidly at an accelerating rate – peak oil is expected to arrive in 10 years or fewer. So any efforts to move away from burning fossil fuels to supply our electricity will save money, because energy from the sun and wind is unlimited. Ignoring the fact that our supply of oil is finite makes the API study deeply flawed. For a more detailed debunking of how the API screwed it up, go here:

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