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What will hitting the magic number 60 mean for global warming?

posted by Kirsten Firminger

It is official. With the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in favor of Al Franken, the Democrats will have reached the filibuster-proof magical number of 60 senate seats. Franken will likely be sworn in early next week in time to jump into the debate on the controversial Waxman-Markey Bill, aka the American Clean Energy and Security Act. After much political wrangling, the bill got through the House with a vote of 219 to 212.

There is much debate among different environmentalists about whether the bill is worth supporting. One side says that despite all its flaws, it is landmark legislation that can be improved later with amendments. In addition, President Obama needs to bring something to the table in Copenhagen to lead the way to the ratification of a global climate change treaty.

Others say the bill is too compromised by the lobby of oil, coal, and other powerful industries that it will do little to reduce emissions while stripping the EPA of its new powers to regulate emissions from coal plants. For opinions on both sides of the issue, check out Yale University’s great post on their Environment360 website.

I can definitely say I am getting a lot of emails on the issue. Political Action has emailed me asking to vote yes or no on whether MoveOn should “launch a full-court press to fix the bill, and turn up the heat on senators who might be tempted to side with Big Oil and Coal?” Al Gore is emailing on behalf of RePower America wanting me to declare my energy independence (there has been a lot of declaring and independence going on in my inbox with the Fourth of July coming up). And 1Sky states that “passing the bill in the House was only the beginning. Now the fight must go to the Senate, where we have the opportunity to make it even stronger and lead America into a clean energy economy.”

I am worried that the improvements to the bill won’t happen even with Al Franken and the magical number 60. Will it just be politics as usual? I just have to reread the description posted on  and in the New York Times of how it went in the House to be reminded of that it is highly likely.

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posted July 1, 2009 at 7:37 am

Let’s not let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good. If we don’t pass global warming legislation now, how long will we wait to pass anything at all, much less something better? How long since the Clintons tried to fix healthcare?

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posted July 1, 2009 at 10:02 am

It will pass after being further watered down by senate, and then committee. It won’t do what it needs to, and it won’t get amended to do so in the future. This is just a bone for environmentalists and a campaign tool for President Obama to say he has made steps towards what he promised during his first election.
Until we remove corporate and lobbyist power the changes we need made are never going to take anything more than baby steps.

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Kirsten Firminger

posted July 1, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Just to follow up, I got an email from that says that 95% of MoveOn members participating in Monday’s vote said we should move forward with a massive effort to fix the energy bill as it moves through the Senate.

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