Hats Off to the Climate Bill's Political Powerbombs


WWEwrestlingWe give a lot of props to the entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers and investors that are building the greentech tools of tomorrow. But we don’t often offer a lot of praise for the legislative process or the policy makers that have been driving clean energy and climate policy (OK, except for occasionally Obama and Reid). And while the climate bill, which has passed the House and is still being negotiated in the Senate, delivered enough concessions that even eager beavers like Tom Friedman say they hate it (but pass it!) the political jujitsu required to get the bill through the House was laudable.

Politico (h/t Business Insider and Climate Progress) posted a colorful and insightful article recently explaining the “arm-twisting” involved in getting the climate bill passed in the House, even with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (described as floating “in and out of the House cloakroom all day, impossible to miss in an arctic-white linen pantsuit”) as the chief ax-grinder. From Politico:

After lawmakers had devoured the last of the Kalua Pig at last Thursday night’s White House Luau, Nancy Pelosi summoned her team back to the Capitol — to ensure the climate change bill wasn’t the next thing roasted on the spit…Pelosi and her top lieutenants would spend the next four hours whipping, cajoling, begging and browbeating undecided Democrats — and triple-checking their whip lists to decide who was a solid “yes” and who was prevaricating on the cap-and-trade legislation.

According to Politico, victims of the Pelosi treatment included Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.). Perched on the arm of his chair, Pelosi went “nose to nose with him for a half-hour warning him that his no vote could scuttle the entire climate change effort.” (Holt voted yes). Meanwhile Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) had told Pelosi he’d vote yes, but ended up voting no and was seen sprinting from the room (avoiding the Pelosi Powerbomb he’d suffer for crossing her).

The New York Times detailed just how many extra projects and changes ended up in the bill (over 1,400 pages), saying it grew “fat with compromises, carve-outs, concessions and out-and-out gifts intended to win the votes of wavering lawmakers and the support of powerful industries.” Compromises included small things like a “$50 million hurricane research center for a freshman lawmaker from Florida,” and bigger issues like giving away 85 percent of emissions permits for free at the start of the system.

Who knows what the Senate version will look like or how long it will take to negotiate it? (A vote is expected in mid-September.) But we’d like to take a moment to thank our political counterparts for this mini-greentech victory and for doing what Silicon Valley could never do: battle it out in politics. The Valley’s entrepreneurs can stick to developing the technical tools to fight climate change, and leave the white linen pantsuits at home.

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