The Senate convened today at noon, and Republicans raised a stink about it. Why so late? Important business to attend to! It had to do with the 150 amendments that EPW committee Republicans brought with them to the markup hearing. The long and short of it is that, by Senate rules, any senator can object to the continuance of any committee meetings that continue beyond the first four hours that the Senate is in session. If the committee meeting and the floor session had, as usual, started close to the same time, the markup might have ended at 1 pm. This buys them two-and-a-half additional hours at least -- a helpful gesture from the Senate leader in the face of this sort of obstructionism. His floor statement and an unofficial transcript of this morning's proceedings are reprinted below the fold:
Well, there’s remarkable stuff going on up on the hill today. Thanks to the persistence of Nancy Pelosi (and others), the energy bill has been …
Okay, the committee website picked the feed back. It can be accessed here. In the intervening hour or so, a Cardin amendment -- to fund federal agencies involved in L-W enforcement with money raised from the auction -- passed. So did an amendment offered by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to create a bonus system for renewable energy modeled on the bill's existing bonus system for carbon capture, and a Lautenberg amendment offering to authorize the National Academy of Sciences to study GHG emissions associated with flying. All Republican-offered amendments since my previous post have failed.
Good news: I got three guys to put up a total of $1000 against the bet in my recent post, "Ice, ice, maybe (not)": It is very safe to say the Arctic Sea will be essentially ice free by 2030, and I'd personally bet on 2020 -- any takers? Not-so-good news: The "takers" are not global warming doubters, quite the reverse -- they are three well-known and knowledgeable climate bloggers -- James Annan, William Connolley, and Brian Schmidt -- and James and William are certifiable climate experts. That said, I think I'm going to win this, as I'll explain. I estimate the odds at at least 2 to 1 in my favor -- no, this isn't the same kind of 100-to-1 lock the hydrogen bet is -- though James, William, and Brian have, unintentionally, given me (slightly) better-than-even odds. Let's start with the bet: At no time between now and the end of the year 2020 will the minimum total Arctic Sea ice extent be less than 10 percent of the 1979-2000 average minimum annual Arctic Sea ice extent, as measured by NSIDC data or any other measurement mutually agreed-upon; provided, however, that if two or more volcanic eruptions with the energy level equal to or greater than the 1991 Mount Pinatubo shall occur between now and the end of 2020, then all bets are voided. The 10 percent minimum covers me against straggling ice. I also asked for the two-Pinatubo voiding -- I didn't want to lose this bet if warming is temporarily slowed by an unusual series of big volcanoes. Why will I win?
It seems like C-SPAN only planned to broadcast the first three hours of the markup session. Either way, their coverage ended, which means that for now, so must mine. It looks very much like this bill will be favorably reported out of committee. Expect more commentary throughout the day.
Inhofe amendment No. 13 would require the Commerce Secretary to report annually whether L-W would cost 10,000 automotive jobs in the year to come. It failed. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) amendment No. 1 would cap and ratchet down noncarbon pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Amendment is withdrawn for now.
It sure seemed to me that passage was inevitable, going in. And after I heard Sen. Sanders' new tone, it seemed even more likely that L-W would be passed by the Environment and Public Works committee today. Over at Politico, Ryan Grim points to the first amendment -- the "offramp" amendment -- which failed 11-8: The full Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works appears poised to pass the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill. The first of more than 180 amendments that have been filed dealt with one of the most contentious issues -- whether U.S. legislation would sunset if China and India didn't follow suit. It was seen by both sides as a bellwether of the final vote. It passed 11-8, with Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) joining all nine Democrats -- including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) by proxy -- as well as independent Democrat Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. The committee chairwoman, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) warned early that the mark-up, starting today, could go for as long as three days, but passage of this major and controversial legislation through committee now seems inevitable.
Larry Craig amendment No. 24 (out of over 40!) to kill offramp the bill without China's support failed: 8 yeas, 11 nays. Bernard Sanders' amendment No. 2 to create incentives for domestic green-tech industries and manufacturing passed: 12 yeas, 7 nays. (Sen. George Voinovich [R-Ohio], who opposes the bill, voted for the amendment.)
Senators' opening statements are almost always fairly predictable, and, save for Sanders' there were no surprises today. But chair Boxer's opening statement is reprinted below the fold.