Swing-vote Democrats explain why they oppose the Climate Security Act
On Friday, 10 Democratic senators wrote a letter [PDF] to Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) outlining the reasons why they would not have voted in favor of the Climate Security Act. Democratic leaders pulled the bill from the floor last week after it failed to muster enough votes to move forward.
The senators who signed the letter are from key energy-producing and manufacturing states, and argue that the bill would impact their constituents disproportionately. While they said they support a cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions, they wouldn’t support the particulars of the CSA.
“We believe a federal cap-and-trade program must not only significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions but also ensure that consumers and workers in all regions of the U.S. are protected from undue hardship,” they wrote. “A federal cap-and-trade program is perhaps the most significant endeavor undertaken by Congress in over 70 years and must be done with great care.”
The letter also outlines measures the senators would like to see in any future legislation: stronger cost-containment mechanisms, increased investment in new technologies, more carbon credits allocated to states with a large industrial base, more price relief for low-income Americans, more provisions to prevent jobs from being outsourced, preemption of state emissions plans once a federal plan is in place, and greater use of agricultural and forestry offsets.
The senators who signed on to the letter: Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin (both of Michigan), Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor (both of Arkansas), John Rockefeller (W.Va.), Jim Webb (Va.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), and Ben Nelson (Neb.). Of these senators, all but Brown voted for cloture on Friday. The others wanted to make it clear that their vote to begin debate on the Climate Security Act was not an endorsement of the bill’s specifics.
In a press conference on Friday, Boxer said she would begin meeting with these senators as early as this week to discuss their concerns with the bill and start work on future legislation.
Get Grist in your inbox