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Global Warming Legislative Possibilities

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) pulled down the Warner-Lieberman Global Warming Bill as Republicans filibustered and there were too few Democrats voting for cloture to require an up-or-down vote. Immediately after the bill went off the Senate Calendar, Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) told the Washington press corps that this defeat didn't mean anything because the bill will pass by a substantial margin in the next Congress. Democrats believe they will win a minimum of eight Senate seats, perhaps as many as eleven seats.


However, there are nearly five months before the general election and things can change between now and then. If Republicans lost only four seats they yet would have sufficient votes to maintain a filibuster. The Public Opinion and Policy Center of the National Center for Public Policy Research has conducted an extensive poll which shows that 65% of the American public is against spending even one penny more to fight global warming. The number of people who reject increasing gas prices to fight global warming has increased by 17% in only two months. The National Center conducted a similar survey in February. An additional 13% beyond the 65% reject spending 5% more to fight greenhouse gas emissions.

Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Solutions reports that the Warner Lieberman legislation if enacted would increase petroleum prices by 5.9% by 2015. There are other studies which suggest that prices would be raised even higher.

The survey indicates that 71% of the American people reject higher spending for electricity while an additional 16% object to paying more than 12% for electricity. The American Council for Capital Formation and the National Association of Manufacturers have a study which contends that Warner-Lieberman would raise electricity costs between 13% and 14%. When taken together 90% of Americans oppose Warner-Lieberman's costs for both gasoline and electricity. David A. Ridenour, Vice President of the Center, says that while 90% opposition is unbelievably high, that number may be higher because the bill would considerably increase the price of food and consumer goods. That, in turn, would cause a loss of domestic jobs. Warner-Lieberman includes what is called a cap-and-trade provision. The bill would impose strict caps upon emissions from power plants, manufacturing plants, fuel refiners and producers and chemical manufacturers. Then an emissions trading system would be established which would allow companies which omit fewer greenhouse gasses to sell the excess portion to companies which exceed the caps.


The poll was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies. 802 people who are likely to vote in 2008 were surveyed. It includes 37% registered Democrats, 30% independents and 29% Republicans. Interestingly, opposition to this measure was higher among Blacks and Hispanics.

If Senator Kerry accurately predicts swift passage of the bill in the next Congress we could be facing $5 a gallon for gasoline and $7 for diesel fuel. It is impossible to predict the mood of the electorate at that point. It could be that the public will weigh in on this legislation big time. I recall one time that then Majority Leader Howard H. Baker (R-TN) predicted an overwhelming cloture vote on a crime bill and swift passage thereafter. The next day the vote was 15 votes short of cloture. He never saw it coming. We might see a similar situation respecting global warming legislation.


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