There’s a great deal of buzz in D.C. right now over the prospects of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. A major environmental group (Environmental Defense) is running radio spots urging congressional passage this year, while a key Lieberman aide has been quoted as saying that the already compromised bill is open for further compromise (if that will get more votes). One issue up for discussion is preemption — that is, taking away the right of states to limit greenhouse gases.

With that in mind, it might make sense to consider the views of a genuine eco-battler, my friend Dan Becker, long a Sierra Club activist who waged an often lonely war for years to improve federal fuel economy (CAFE) standards.

In a commentary on public radio’s Living on Earth program, Dan cautions that it took many years to win against the car companies — and that even bigger problems loom as Congress considers the Lieberman-Warner plan:

This year, as Congress turns to broad climate legislation that would cap industrial emissions but allow polluters to buy and sell the right to pollute, the lessons from the CAFE bill loom. If it took a perfect storm to beat just one powerful industry, what will it take to beat the oil, coal, utility, Chamber of Commerce, and other lobbies lining up to kill or gut a strong global warming law?

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Dan notes the clock is ticking on damage from global warming, but suggests that:

There are several ways to make progress. As they did with cars, the states can lead the way. The next President can champion the cause. Congress can tackle one polluter at a time rather than all at once.

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The whole interview is available here.