richard lugarRichard Lugar

“I don’t see any climate bill on the table right now that I can support,” Sen. Richard Lugar said on Nov. 10, dashing any hopes that he might get behind some version of the Kerry-Boxer legislation that’s moving through the Senate.  “We really have to start from scratch again,” he continued. 

Lugar has been leaning this way for some time. The first week of November, he joined with other Republicans in demanding a more in-depth EPA analysis of the Kerry-Boxer bill; the Republicans insist they need more info on the bill’s potential economic impacts, while Democrats accuse them of trying to stall the process. 

In September, Lugar noted the dangers posed by climate change and said the U.S. must reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but criticized the Waxman-Markey climate bill that passed in House in June.  “To give the impression that somehow the Senate must pass a bill comparable to the House, or anything in that ballpark, seems to me is not a very good idea and is one I’m likely to oppose,” the senator said.  Lugar argued that the bill would penalize coal-dependant states like Indiana, which gets more than 90 percent of its electricity from coal.

Asked what kind of climate bill he could support, Lugar responded, “I frankly don’t know, although I’m deeply interested in this.” But he has indicated that he would prefer to focus on energy efficiency and investment in renewables rather than cap-and-trade.  “The real way of approaching this is through conservation, through building modification, through the change in how electricity is delivered,” he said. “Leaving aside cap-and-trade and some very large federal legislation which, in my judgment, is not going to make much difference in CO2 for 20 years, we can make a difference now.”

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Here’s more on Lugar and climate, as written by Kate Sheppard on August 24, 2009:

In 2006, Sen. Richard Lugar’s Indiana tree farm purchased credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange, a good indication that he realizes federal climate policy is coming down the pike. He voted for the Climate Stewardship Act in 2003 and 2005, but voted against cloture on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act last year. This year, he’s a key swing vote on climate legislation.

As the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar has been outspoken about the need for the U.S. to become more energy independent and address climate change.

“We should recognize that energy issues are at the core of most major foreign policy, economic, and environmental issues today. Technological breakthroughs that expand clean energy supplies for billions of people worldwide will be necessary for sustained economic growth,” Lugar said at a January hearing on international climate challenges. “In the absence of revolutionary changes in energy policy that are focused on these technological advancements, we will be risking multiple hazards for our country that could constrain living standards, undermine our foreign policy goals, and leave us highly vulnerable to economic, political, and environmental disasters with an almost existential impact.”

“The United States should recognize that steps to address climate change involve economic opportunities, not just constraints,” he continued.

But Lugar has been adamant that any climate strategy should be part of a global effort, and big developing countries like China and India should be compelled to participate.

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He has also expressed concern about the transparency and enforcement of cap-and-trade, as well as its potential costs for coal-dependent states like Indiana. And he wants biofuels and adaptation efforts to play a larger role in climate policy.

Lugar has downplayed the prospects of passing a climate bill in the Senate in 2009. Approving a plan to reduce emissions is “a tough sell to people who are in a recession and whose light bills are going up,” Lugar said in June. “The votes just haven’t been there, and I’m not sure they are now.”

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