Climate Legislation at Last?

The author of today’s article, Mark MacLeod, is Director of Special Projects for our national climate campaign.

What do you get when a longtime champion of the environment and a respected Republican voice on both the economy and national security join forces in the Senate to write a climate change bill? A real opportunity for bipartisan action on global warming.

On Wednesday, Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman and Virginia Republican John Warner announced a groundbreaking commitment to develop a comprehensive greenhouse gas cap and trade bill. They intend to bring it to a vote in their panel on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee before the end of July.

A pile of climate bills have already been introduced in the Congress this year – why is this announcement such big news?

These two senators have a track record of seeking practical solutions to difficult problems, and their colleagues in the Senate will be looking to them for a sensible approach to fixing the climate problem. Lieberman will set a high bar for environmental protection, and Warner will ensure the bill helps the climate without weakening the economy. That means a bill that can win broad support on both sides of the aisle.

Their partnership also underscores the growing recognition that climate change is an issue of national security. Lieberman and Warner hold senior posts on the Senate’s homeland security and armed services panels, and both understand the security threats global warming poses at home and abroad. As Warner said on Wednesday, "In my 28 years in the Senate, I have focused above all on issues of national security, and I see the problem of climate change as fitting within that focus."

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer called the announcement a "critical milestone" for her committee’s efforts to pass a comprehensive climate change bill. We share her optimism, so stay tuned for updates when the bill is unveiled next month.

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