Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) [UPDATED]
Sen. Ben Nelson doesn’t believe a cap-and-trade climate bill can pass Congress this session, he said on Oct. 30 — and he doesn’t intend to do anything to help it.
“I haven’t been able to sell that argument to my farmers, and I don’t think they’re going to buy it from anybody else,” Nelson said in an interview on CNBC. “I think at the end of the day, the people who turn the switch on at home will be disadvantaged.”
Here’s more on Nelson and climate, as written by Kate Sheppard on July 24, 2009:
Nelson has made it clear that he is willing to buck his party on a climate bill — or any bill, for that matter.
“I am not about to surrender any of my votes on the basis that there are now 60 members of my caucus,” Nelson told The New York Times. “I don’t think we will walk in lockstep. It will be issue by issue.”
Nelson, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is concerned about how a climate bill would affect the agriculture sector. The ag lobby secured major concessions in the House climate bill that passed in June, but it’s not clear if those are enough to get Nelson on board.
“Every farm-state senator is aware of what the cap-and-trade proposals could do to their agriculture base,” said Nelson. “Agriculture is a big user of electricity. There’s a recognition that when electricity costs go up it can add, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars in costs at a time when commodity prices are not what they were. So we have to be very concerned.”
Earlier this year, Nelson was among the Democrats who voted against using the budget process to approve climate legislation.
In May of last year, he expressed support for a climate bill from Ohio Republican George Voinovich that made enviros queasy.
One month later, in June 2008, he voted to send the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act to a floor vote, but then signed a letter from 10 swing-vote Democrats noting that he would have opposed final passage of the bill. Here’s what Nelson said in a press release after that vote:
I have concerns about the climate change bill and will not vote for it. Global climate change is an environmental problem that requires energy solutions. I believe we need a comprehensive and coherent energy policy for this nation that will also help address the emissions problems contributing to global climate change. But this bill is not that policy and I do not support it.
I voted for cloture on the bill to allow it to move forward because I do not support procedural gimmicks that prevent a bill from getting an up or down vote. I think the Senate should vote this bill down and move forward with establishing a National Commission on Energy Policy and Global Climate Change so that the next Congress and the next Administration can work from a comprehensive legislative blueprint developed by a non-partisan commission.
Do you know more about this senator’s stance on climate legislation? Tell us.
Find out about other senators by clicking on their names in the right column.
More stories in this series:
Kent Conrad Sen. Kent Conrad’s colleague in the House, Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), voted against the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, and Conrad says he wouldn’t vote for the bill either. He also joined with three other moderate …
Mark Begich Sen. Mark Begich beat out everyone’s favorite Senate curmudgeon, “Uncle” Ted Stevens (R), in a tight race last fall. And while he’s seen as a modest improvement in the environmental realm, he’s also a steadfast supporter of increased …
Blanche Lincoln Sen. Blanche Lincoln recently called the House climate and energy bill “a complete non-starter,” and pledged that the Senate would move more slowly in crafting legislation in order to address the concerns of specific legislators and regions. Lincoln’s …
Claire McCaskillSen. Claire McCaskill doesn’t think the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill that passed the House in June stands much chance of passing the Senate, and she would not support the bill as it stands. During House debate on the …
Get Grist in your inbox