Sen. Arlen Specter is considered a fence sitter on climate legislation, though on Nov. 5 he sided with all but one of the Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee in voting to move forward with the Kerry-Boxer climate bill.
Specter bemoaned his inability to offer amendments addressing his home state’s steel, coal and refining industries. But he said it was more important to pass the climate bill out of committee now, given the international spotlight on the Obama administration’s role during a major U.N. conference Dec. 7-18 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“Copenhagen is very important symbolically,” Specter said. “And Copenhagen would have been more impressed had we moved further. But Copenhagen will be impressed at least that we have the resoluteness to move ahead now.”
Here’s more on Specter and climate, as written by Kate Sheppard on 20 July 2009:
Specter’s role as a swing voter on climate legislation didn’t change when he made his surprise switch to the Democratic Party in April. While he has spoken in favor of acting on climate, he has opposed measures he thinks are too strong.
In 2007, he introduced a modest climate bill with New Mexico Democrat Jeff Bingaman. In 2008, he voted against the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, arguing that it was too stringent. This year, he was one of 66 senators who rejected the option of using the budget reconciliation process to pass a climate bill.
“I think we ought to have a bill which is as aggressive as possible, subject to two criteria,” Specter told Grist in April. “One is that it has a realistic chance of passage, and second that it establishes goals which are within current technical know-how.”
Speaking at a town hall meeting at Drexel University in April, he said, “I believe that it is more effective to choose something which can be legislated at the present time, which is within the reach of our current technologies … The standards of the Lieberman-Warner go beyond the current technology.” (Note that the Lieberman-Warner bill was weaker than the Waxman-Markey bill that the House passed in June.)
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