After years of being sidelined in DC, global warming finally took congressional center stage in June '08 - with the Senate debating a bill that would notch down greenhouse gas emissions by 63% by 2050.
Given the president is likely to veto any climate change bill with mandatory caps on emissions, though, the debates this year are mostly for show - but they could set up the terms for a global warming bill that has a good shot at passing next year.
To help our readers keep track of what's in the bills Congress is seriously considering, CitizenJoe offers this running tally.
In the Senate
The frontrunner bill in the Senate, S 3036 (which is a version of S 2191 plus a bunch of changes), came up for debate the week of June 2, when senators were poised to offer up a bunch of amendments. Debate didn't get far, though, with the bill being pulled within a few days.
It could be the greatest threat to our way of life – or just a lot of hot air. Scientists warn that global warming – caused partly by human activities – will radically alter weather patterns and sea levels in the not so distant future. Some skeptics say the forecasts of gloom and doom are overstated; for others, the jury’s out on how much humans have had an impact on temperature rises and how much we can do to slow or stop the trend. They warn instead that cutting back on carbon emissions, the prime cause of warming according to environmentalists, will end up severely hurting our economy without making a dent in the weather.
Bills in Brief
With soaring summer gas prices (which later mellowed) putting the spotlight back on energy, Congress got in the political mood for some energy saving action in 2006
Both the Senate and House tossed around new and rehashed ideas for short term fixes and long term solutions to spiking gas prices. But although the House trickled out a steady flow of mini energy bills, the only measure that ended up passing was one opening up 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil drilling.
The Week of July 13
The floors of Capitol Hill are busy with spending matters this week. While the House churns through two more of its twelve spending bills for fiscal year 2010 - a $33b Energy and Water bill and $24b for Financial Services - senators will wade into lengthy debate over the $690b defense authorization bill, HR 1390. The "authorization" bill doesn't write the check for the military ("appropriations" bills do that), but it does okay what can go into an appropriations bill for next year. One budgetary item that will slow up passage is a $2b allotment for F-22 fighter planes: the Pentagon says it doesn't need the extra planes; the administration doesn't want to pay for them; but lawmakers in the homestates that build F-22s are pushing to buy them anyway.
Bills in Brief
With a Democratic Congress in charge, 2007 at first looked like it would see a host of energy bills to rev up alternative energy use and ease up on fossil fuel dependence. Both the Senate and House passed a number of energy bills, but ended up with a final - pared down - bill that the president might signed into law right before Christmas.
The original Senate bill
The Senate passed a swath of energy measures, as part of S 1419, in June including: