Kay HaganKay HaganKay Hagan, junior senator from North Carolina, is not a shoo-in on the Kerry-Boxer climate bill, but she appears to be leaning toward supporting it.

When asked in mid-October if she would support a climate bill with cap-and-trade, the senator replied, “We’re certainly talking about it. The Kerry-Boxer bill is … out there but it’s not complete yet. So I’m certainly going to have to wait to look at the bill. I certainly say that climate change is real; I am extremely concerned about it. And I want to do what we need to do to be sure our country and the rest of the world is on the right track to reduce the CO2 emissions.”

The transition from candidate to senator seems to have affected Hagan’s environmental agenda: in 2008, her campaign website called for reducing carbon emissions 60 to 80 percent by 2050, but the energy page on her Senate website doesn’t mention climate or greenhouse-gas emissions at all, instead making vague calls for energy independence, energy efficiency, and cutting-edge energy technologies. In April, the senator, along with 25 other swing Democrats, voted against using the budget reconciliation process to pass a climate bill.

In a letter to a constitutent in early November, Hagan appears optimistic about climate legislation in general but stresses that she will closely review any bill before making a decision:

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Thank you for contacting me regarding global climate change and federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions nationally and internationally. I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.

On June 26, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 2009 (H.R.2454). Similarly, on September 30, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733) was introduced in the Senate. It has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for further review.

Both pieces of legislation would regulate carbon emissions by establishing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from large U.S. sources like electric utilities and oil refiners. The goal of both bills is to reduce emissions through a system of tradable permits modeled after the successful Clean Air Act program to prevent acid rain. If emitters are unable to reduce their emissions, they will be able to purchase allowances from other sources that have excess permits. This market-based approach is preferred because it provides economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions at the lowest cost to the economy. The bills would also invest in renewable and clean energy, provide incentives to encourage increased energy efficiency, and create thousands of high-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Like you, I believe that we must work together to address the potentially devastating impacts of climate change. As a state senator, I worked to place North Carolina at the vanguard of energy independence and sustainability by requiring local utilities to utilize renewable resources in the production of electricity. I was also a strong proponent of the North Carolina Biofuels Center, as well as cutting-edge energy research and development throughout the University of North Carolina system. I believe that North Carolina can become a leader in the new energy economy, and I support a commonsense approach to meeting emerging energy challenges while protecting economic competitiveness for our nation’s workers and industries.

With this in mind, I anticipate the opportunity to work with my colleagues in the Senate to craft comprehensive energy legislation that will address vital environmental concerns while placing North Carolina and the nation at the forefront of the 21st-century energy economy. I believe strongly that we must work to ensure that the impact of any federal energy initiative does not fall disproportionately on North Carolina or low-income citizens, and will work with my colleagues and affected communities to achieve this goal. While comprehensive energy legislation has not yet been considered by the full Senate during the 111th Congress, I will review any proposal carefully to ensure that federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses do not negatively impact the citizens of North Carolina.

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Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.

Climate CitizensTrack the climate debate and take actionSincerely,
Kay R. Hagan

A Dear Kay website invites North Carolinians to send Hagan a message in support of clean energy and climate action.

As a state senator, Hagan earned an 85 percent rating [PDF] from the Conservation Council of North Carolina and helped to pass a renewable portfolio standard requiring the state’s utilities to meet targets for use of renewable energy.

Do you know what your senators think about climate legislation?  Ask them, then tell us what you find out.