By Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute
Not too long ago, global warming activism in the U.S. Capitol made some sort of carbon cap-and-trade legislation seem like a near certainty. But the tide may be turning.
According to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking Republican of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, a key committee needed for passage of a cap-and-trade bill, the trend indicates it can’t pass, at least in the U.S. Senate. He explained that the House, under the leadership of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will pass anything, but it takes both houses of Congress for it to become law.
“I want to tell you what’s going to happen from this point forward in my opinion,” Inhofe said at the Heartland Institute’s Third International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, D.C. on June 2. “First of all, the House will pass anything. Nancy Pelosi has the votes to pass anything. Don’t be distressed when you see the House passes some kind of cap-and-trade bill. And you know it could be worse [than the proposed bill] and she could still pass it, so it’ll pass there.”
One possibility some have suggested is that the Environmental Protection Agency would impose cap-and-trade regulations under the Clean Air Act, a law that gives the EPA authority to regulate pollution in the name of protecting the nation’s air quality. That according to Inhofe can be stalled until President Barack Obama leaves office.
“The EPA has threatened to regulate this through the Clean Air Act,” Inhofe explained. “That isn’t going to work in my opinion because we can stall that until we get a new president – that shouldn’t be a problem.”
But, the key component of the legislative process under these circumstances would be the U.S. Senate. Inhofe pointed to a measure that would require any climate treaty to include developing nations to self-impose the carbon restrictions for the United States to also go along with it.
“While the House will pass the bill … in the Senate, they’re not going to be able to pass it,” Inhofe said. “You guys – it’s just not going to happen. Now we have a history of what’s happened in the Senate. We had the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Remember that’s where we passed by a 94-1, I think it was, saying we don’t want to ratify any treaty – the Senate doesn’t – that doesn’t include developing nations with developed nations. Well, that stuck with us.”
Inhofe explained that in 2003 and 2005, he was able to nearly single-handedly take down a bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joseph Liebermann, I-Conn., which would have set a cap-and-trade system in place.
“Yet, with very popular people, like McCain and Liebermann coming up in ’03 and then again in ’05 – the reason I’m going to tell you that they don’t have the votes, it’s not going to pass is that in ’05, that’s when I was on the floor for eight hours a day, five days, or about 10 hours a days, 50 hours – is that only two senators would come to the floor that would help me with this because I was taking on McCain and Liebermann on this silly issue.”
But, in 2008 with a similar bill sponsored by Sens. Liebermann and John Warner, R-Va., he had gained significant support compared to his 2003 and 2005 efforts, showing a trend that passage of this type of bill is becoming increasingly more difficult.
“And you fast forward to one year ago today, 2008 – Warner-Liebermann,” Inhofe said. “It didn’t take five days, it took two days – 23 senators came down to help me out on this issue, because I told [California Democratic Sen.] Barbara Boxer to you know, get over it, get a life. You lost, we won.”
The Oklahoma senator credited the Founding Fathers, noting that the senate rules put in place are a difficult obstacle for the global warming activists in the federal government to overcome.
“It will pass in the House, in the Senate it will not pass,” Inhofe continued. “And her latest vote and she won’t admit this, but it’s 34 votes and it takes 60 votes in the Senate. Maybe the people who wrote our constitution knew what they were talking about.”