Wednesday, December 13, 2006

U.S. Senate May Be Next Battleground in Global Warming Political Fight

With Senator Barbara Boxer gearing up for weeks of hearings on global warming after she assumes chairmanship of the Environmental and Public Works Committee next month there is speculation about what might happen. An article from the San Jose Mercury News provides some insightful analysis. Boxer is presently advocating that the United States use California’s greenhouse gas emission capping program as a model. The article lists several formidable obstacles that Boxer will likely encounter: “industry resistance, budget constraints, disagreements among party leaders, and the problem’s daunting complexity and global scope,” and emphasizes that there is still fierce opposition to emission controls from “many energy companies, utilities, and the auto industry.” Also in Boxer’s way may stand two new Democratic chairmen of House committees, Nick Rahall from the coal-producing state of West Virginia who will chair the House Resources Committee and John Dingell from the auto manufacturing state of Michigan who will chair the Energy and Commerce Committee. Whether this upcoming battle in the Senate leads to more than providing entertainment for political junkies remains to be seen. A quote from Henry Lee, an environmental expert from Harvard, who says that “ ideological polarization, large budget deficits, an unwillingness to take risks…leads to the inability to reach decisions,” provides good reasons why expectations about the ultimate results of Boxer’s efforts should not be raised very high.

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