Dems Go Lukewarm on Global Warming

Bill Scher

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lowering expectations regarding planned global warming legislation, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reported Friday. Pelosi, D-Calif., prompted concerns last week when an aide said a climate-change and energy-independence bill might not be ready by Pelosi’s June 1 deadline.

Pelosi later explained: “We have two years in this Congress; we do not expect to achieve complete solutions … by June 1.”

To push for a “complete” solution would mean enacting a long-overdue, urgently needed cap on greenhouse gas emissions. But that’s sure to be vetoed by President Bush or filibustered by Senate conservatives. So it would appear Pelosi is angling for a baby step with no cap, which won’t do much to reverse global warming but has a shot of being signed into law.

The strategic question is, what would build more momentum for necessary reforms? A law that takes us a baby step forward? Or a veto of widely-supported legislation, jolting the public and sparking the removal of political obstacles occupying Congress and the White House in 2008?

As Pelosi indicates, it’s not quite an either-or. She can push tougher legislation after an baby step bill is passed. But, at miminum, the new select committee on global warming that Pelosi created must show the way—articulate the comprehensive reforms that are urgently needed and build public demand for them. And a baby step bill cannot be portrayed as more than it is, confusing the public and dampening momentum for necessary action.

Meanwhile, we in the grassroots have to our part, building support for a real cap that will get the job done. That process can start Tuesday, as Americans join together in Washington for Climate Crisis Action Day.

If we do our part well, perhaps Pelosi and others in Congress will change their mind about what’s politically pragmatic.

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