Center-right Dems throwing cold water on climate bill

CENTER-RIGHT DEMS THROWING COLD WATER ON CLIMATE BILL…. An important cap-and-trade bill has already passed the House. It’s been pending in the Senate for about five months now, but proponents note that the policy has some pretty compelling selling points, including the fact that it caps emissions, combats global warming, reduces pollution, helps create new jobs in a burgeoning sector, and lowers the federal budget deficit, all at the same time.

From a purely political perspective, it also worth noting that recent polls from McClatchy, CNN, Politico, Pew Research Center, and WaPo/ABC all show the same thing — a majority of Americans support congressional approval of a cap-and-trade bill.

With all of this in mind, it should come as no surprise that center-right Democrats are already going to great lengths to make sure climate legislation doesn’t even come up for a vote in the Senate.

Bruised by the health care debate and worried about what 2010 will bring, moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year.

“I am communicating that in every way I know how,” says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least half a dozen Democrats who’ve told the White House or their own leaders that it’s time to jettison the centerpiece of their party’s plan to curb global warming.

The article includes quotes from several conservative Democrats, all of whom said they’d like the Senate to just skip the climate bill and focus on the economy. Besides, the thinking goes, lawmakers are just kind of tired.

To put it mildly, that’s not a compelling pitch. For one thing, policymakers have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Getting health care done — if health care gets done — doesn’t mean taking a year off.

But more importantly, while a focus on the economy makes sense, there’s no reason lawmakers can’t embrace a climate bill as part of a larger economic strategy: “Many utilities, investors, and even some consumer companies like Starbucks and Nike believe cap-and-trade will unleash a flood of investments in energy efficiency and renewable fuels like wind, solar, and nuclear power.”

This needs to get done, and if the Senate takes a pass on 2010, it’s hard to imagine when the next available opportunity might be. It’s not as if this will get easier after Republicans make likely gains in the midterms — it’s a party dominated by a head-in-the-sand crowd that prefers to pretend science and data aren’t real.