Sheila McNulty The Waxman-Markey bill: A start, not the last word

The Waxman-Markey bill may have needed many compromises to give it a chance of being passed.

Yet six months ago it was unclear whether even this tough a bill could get through the House.

As Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, put it:

The passage of this legislation, which was almost unimaginable six months ago, will help set our country in a new direction by shifting to a clean energy economy and reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming.

That said, environmentalists are not giving up hope for stronger legislation. All eyes are now on the Senate, where they hope lawmakers can strengthen the bill before it ends up on President Obama’s desk.

Greenpeace is going so far as to condemn the bill as a victory for lobbyists. Carroll Muffett, Greenpeace USA Deputy Campaigns Director, said,

The passage of the inadequate ACES (American Clean Energy and Security Act) bill through the House today is a victory for coal industry lobbyists, oil industry lobbyists, agriculture industry lobbyists, steel and cement industry lobbyists, among many others. But it is a tremendous loss for the American people or for the world, in our common fight to avert climate catastrophe.

Certainly it is true far more must be done to reduce emissions enough to have an impact on the threat of climate change. Greenpeace’s hope is in the Senate. And it is calling on President Obama to be more instrumental in strengthening the legislation.

Indeed, Brent Blackwelder, Friends of the Earth president, held President Obama at fault for not forcing the House’s hand:

President Obama was elected on a promise to bring transformational change to this country, including a solution to global warming. Unfortunately, the president failed to boldly advocate such change as this bill moved through the House. He must be more vocal as this issue is debated in the Senate. With the future at stake, the Senate must produce a stronger bill.

Hmm. He does seem to have a point.

See also: Cap-and-trade mess (FT editorial comment)