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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faces a tough choice following a successful Republican filibuster of the first serious legislation to tackle climate change. The bill, America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, proposes to setup a cap-and-trade system to manage carbon emissions. Today Democrats fell 12 votes short of getting the 60 votes needed to end a Republican filibuster (which included a stunt requiring an eight-hour reading of the 492-page bill) and call a final vote, the AP reports. Now Reid must decide whether or not to pull the bill and push it back until next year, when it can be considered again with a new Congress and a new president.
Unfortunately, this is all just a warm up for more serious discussion later. A new Congress — and especially a new president — will be necessary to make carbon cap and trade law. President Bush has already said he would veto any such bill. But both presumptive presidential candidates say that a cap-and-trade system on carbon is a major part of their climate policies.
Republicans are concerned that such a system, which would give carbon emissions a value and charge emitters to pollute, would massively and detrimentally restructure the American economy. Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told the AP the bill represents “the largest restructuring of the American economy since the New Deal.” Such a system would make dirty technologies, like coal power, much more expensive and make clean technologies far more cost competitive. Environmentalists eagerly await the next president to help pass such legislation.