Senate passes weak climate amendment

Greens were struck with a severe case of mixed feelings yesterday, as the Senate passed an energy-bill amendment to address global warming (yay!) but passed over a different, tougher amendment (boo!). The latter, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), would have imposed mandatory controls on industrial greenhouse-gas emissions (though it was less ambitious than the McCain-Lieberman plan). Despite the oh-so-scary term “mandatory,” Bingaman at one point thought he had the 60 votes to get it through, particularly after powerful Energy Committee Chair Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) expressed support. But a last-minute flurry of lobbying from the White House and the oil and gas industries changed Domenici’s mind, Bingaman withdrew the amendment, and lawmakers threw their support instead behind one sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Hagel’s, which passed 66-29, is a cute, cuddly amendment, free of sharp mandatory corners, focusing instead on tax credits and loan guarantees for clean technologies. Fred Krupp of Environmental Defense put his happy face on, hailing the “shift from debating whether we should do something to what we intend to do” about the coming global catastrophe.