Seeking a tougher climate bill, green groups set eyes on the Senate
First things first
Getting the climate and energy bill through the House might still be a challenge. The bill’s authors told reporters that they’re confident they can pass it, but they’re still counting votes. The enviro groups backing it are also working to whip up support through paid advertising and grassroots efforts.
Kate Sheppard / GristNRDC’s Lashof said his group is focusing on a “huge education effort” geared at representatives who are members of the committee that approved the bill last month, Energy and Commerce.
LCV announced on Tuesday that it will not endorse any legislator who votes against the bill, which includes legislators who oppose it from both the right and the left. “It doesn’t matter where they’re from,” Tony Massaro, LCV senior vice president for political affairs and public education told Grist. “They vote against it, they voted the wrong way … We want a ‘yes’ vote, and if you vote against it you’re not eligible for an endorsement. “
Massaro said that even if a representative votes with LCV on every other issue this year, the group’s 2010 political endorsement will be determined by the vote on ACES.
LCV is one of the few green groups to give electoral endorsements, so this is a fairly bold move on it part, and one its officials hope will be influential for some legislators. LCV tends to endorse candidates who are generally moderate but have solid environmental records, and who are facing tough races. In 2008 LCV endorsed 54 House candidates, and 40 of them won. That includes eight moderate Republicans that enviros and Democrats are hoping will be persuaded to break from the party line on this bill.
In addition to the ad blitz launched last week, Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters also started running a new television ad on Wednesday using video of President Obama endorsing the bill in his press conference on Tuesday.
And every group with a network of members and volunteers around the country — Sierra Club, LCV, Environment America, the Alliance for Climate Protection — has their folks out encouraging voters to call their legislators this week.
Attack from the left
Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have already decided that Waxman-Markey is too weak, and they are launching their own aggressive campaigns to halt it and improve it.
Friends of the Earth launched an ad campaign outright opposing passage of the bill unless it is dramatically changed. “We must strengthen this flawed bill or prevent it from passing,” the group argues on its website.
Greenpeace opposed the bill in the form that passed out of Waxman’s committee, and says the compromise with the Agriculture Committee members has made it even worse.
“It’s clear that Congress cannot deliver the kind of commitment we need to comply with the demands of science and the international community,” Greenpeace deputy campaign director Carroll Muffett told Grist. “It would take a substantial improvement in the bill on the House floor to get it to a place where we think it’s worthwhile. We’re just not seeing that.”
“There have been concessions to every industry under the sun and every committee under the sun,” he continued. “What there haven’t been are concessions to reality and concessions to the science.”
The group is instead turning it efforts toward the White House, calling on Team Obama to step up and demand tougher action than Congress appears set to deliver. While Obama called for action on climate on the campaign trail and in his inaugural speech, he was largely absent from the public discussion of the actual legislation up until his fleeting mention of the House bill during Tuesday’s press conference.
“The real hope here is for the president to step up and show some leadership, for the president to get outside his political comfort zone and demand that we take action, that the science requires we take,” said Muffett. “So far he hasn’t done that, hasn’t shown willingness to go beyond political pragmatism to real leadership on this issue.”
As the House prepares to take up Waxman-Markey, a manager’s amendment — the final version of the bill that the authors will introduce with final changes — is expected to be made public on Thursday morning, giving all sides a chance to see what further compromises may have been made. Al Gore is making a visit to the Capitol on Thursday afternoon to meet with Democrats and encourage passage of the bill, and he will speak with reporters after his meeting.
Debate on the bill is scheduled to begin on Friday and could continue into Saturday, as House leaders want to hold an up or down vote before legislators return to their districts for the July 4 holiday recess.