Despite speculation from a few Beltway pundits, recent events suggest that there is momentum for the passage of a comprehensive clean energy and global warming legislation in 2010. Sen. Lindsay Graham’s (R-S.C.) commitment to work with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to craft legislation is a significant political breakthrough.

Sen. Graham voted against earlier global warming bills, including those authored by his friend Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Recently, Sen. Graham recognized that reducing carbon pollution by putting a price on it would “allow alternative energy sources to become more economically viable resulting in a cleaner environment. It is in our own national security interests to achieve energy independence and curb our pollution problem.”   

The Copenhagen Accord, while far from perfect, also sets the stage for Senate action in 2010. President Obama’s leadership led to China and India’s first ever agreements to reduce their pollution rates. The accord also includes a compromise between the United States and China to verify pollution reductions according to rigorous and transparent guidelines depending on the source of financing for the reductions. All reductions are subject to “international consultation and analysis.” These agreements should address the concern that the United States will reduce its pollution while these and other developing countries do little to reduce their emissions.

The public continues to support action to reduce global warming pollution despite the worst economy in 70 years, the brouhaha over emails stolen from climate scientists, and $100 million in scare mongering ads by big oil and other special interests. The Washington Post-ABC News poll released the week of Dec. 14 showed that by more than 2-1 Americans want to “regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars, and factories in an effort to reduce global warming.” The Post poll found that three of five voters would support reductions in greenhouse gas pollution even if it “raised your monthly expenses by 10 dollars a month.” And 55 percent would still support reductions if it “raised your monthly energy expenses by 25 dollars a month.” The Associated Press-Stanford University poll found similar results.

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The mainstream media has written the obituary for comprehensive clean energy legislation at every step of the process. Such nay saying occurred after House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming introduced the American Clean Energy and Security Act, before the House Energy Committee passed the bill, and before the full House of Representatives passed it in June. Chair Waxman noted (subs. req.) that “On every issue that I’ve worked on this year, people have said it can’t happen and it’s dead for the year.” Claims about the death of the Senate global warming bill are also greatly exaggerated.  The Senate is on track for a spring debate and passage of legislation to create jobs, increase American energy independence, and cut pollution.