September 21, 2010
“It’s too late; it’ll just have to be stopped in the Senate,” Tom, the young male answering the phone in U.S. Rep. John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) Washington D.C. office, said about HR 3534 (CLEAR Act).This is the globalist bill designed to give away our land, oceans, adjacent land masses and Great Lakes to an international body, and makes us pay $900 million per year until 2040.
HR 3534 is a thinly disguised permanent roadblock to American energy which drives American companies out of the Gulf, delays future drilling, increases dependency on foreign oil, implements climate change legislation and youth education programs; but most important, it mandates membership in the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) without the required two-thirds vote to ratify it in the U.S. Senate. [Read more at 'LOST' below.]
The House passed the CLEAR Act (HR 3534) 209-193, July 30, 2010. This bill was originally introduced July 8, 2009, but was resurrected by the recent Deep Water Horizon oil spill crisis. According to www.govtrack.us, a debate may be taking place on a companion bill in the Senate, rather than on this particular bill. This bill was read for the second time Aug. 4, 2010, and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, Calendar No. 510. No official Senate Bill number exists as of yet. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3534
Some have said this bill would be a long shot to be approved in the Senate or it will take a while to surface. Similar assessments were made about the health-care bill. Past precedent reflects how a 2,200+-page bill can be created, printed, members held hostage, and that same bill voted on within hours to facilitate holiday recess.
This bill assesses a Conservation Fee of $2 per barrel of oil and 20 cents per million BTUs of natural gas for all leases on Federal onshore and offshore lands (Section 802). This will jettison America’s energy prices for oil and gas through the roof!
Truth is, HR 3534 could have been stopped in the House and wasn’t. Why? Because 21 absent Republicans chose not to show up for this critical vote, while another REP just voted Present: U.S. Rep. Gary Miller (CA-42). This legislation was so egregious — more than a handful of Democrats voted “nay,” which makes the Republicans’ absence in the House chamber for the vote even more questionable. Be reminded that 193 + 17 absent votes would have killed the bill.
The Consolidated Land, Energy, Aquatic Restoration Act of 2009 (aka: CLEAR Act, HR 3534) gives away ownership of America’s oceans to the United Nations and sectors America into nine geographic areas. This bill possesses a cap and trade/climate change component as well.
America will be forced to become a member of the UN Law of the Sea Treaty (aka: LOST), circumventing the normal two-thirds U.S. Senate vote necessary for ratification of any treaty. This was accomplished surreptitiously via Section 106 of the bill, which specifies that Executive Orders, rules, regulations, directives or delegations of authority that precede the effective date of this act are applicable to the CLEAR Act.
It just so happens two important documents did precede the CLEAR Act — documents that contain the deleterious intent and scope of the bill: Obama’s Stewardship of the Oceans, Our Coasts and the Great Lakes Executive Order, July 19, 2010, and the Interim Report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, July 10, 2009.
Look at the time line very closely:
- 9-8-2009: The CLEAR Act is introduced in Congress
- 9-10-2009: Interim Report
- 4-20-2010: BP Oil Spill. The Federal government would not accept or provide help, allowing oil to reach shores, allowing BP to dump hundreds of millions of barrel of Corexit (toxic) into the Gulf, poisoning the Gulf for future generations (www.thegulfspeaks.com).
- 5-20-2010: US forces moratorium on drilling, Judge says not constitutional, but the Feds issue a new version of a moratorium. Thousands are put out of work, and hundreds of millions are lost in revenues.
Wonder why the Feds did nothing for 100 days? Instead we got this Executive Order:
- 7-19-2010: Executive Order
Moving to the Executive Order, Obama hereby orders as follows in Section 2 (b) (iii): pursuing the United State’s accession into the Law of the Sea Convention. Note the intent to make an end run around the constitutionally required separate two-thirds U.S. Senate vote necessary to ratify a treaty by burying this in associated documents – not in the bill itself. [Read more at footnote 2]
CLEAR Act (Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources, HR3534)
This act creates the Regional Outer Continental Shelf Council which will coordinate siting and development of energy resources and prepare OCS strategies. What will these strategies entail? Further moratoriums? High costs for permitting?
It amends the Land and Water Conservation fund to make $900 million available to the fund for each fiscal year until 2040 without further appropriation. It allows grants to coastal states and Indian tribes, the Secretary of the Interior to update regional assessments, regional ocean partnerships and regional coordinating councils, ensuring government, nongovernment organizations and academic entities are considered (Section 605 (a) (3) (A) (B) and (C).
Pay attention to Section 106-e: References –relating to the Service in statutes Executive Orders, rules, regulations, directives, or delegations of authority that precede the effective date of this act are deemed to refer as appropriate to the Department, to its officers, employees, or agents, or to its corresponding organizational units or functions. Congress will no longer be needed to vote on those pesky little treaties; the UN will take care of everything.
The CLEAR Act repeals the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by removing royalty incentives for natural gas production from deep wells in shallow Gulf waters, removes royalty relief for deep-water production, and directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish fees for leases with less than commercial quantities. So here is the Cap and Trade/ Climate part and job-killing component of the legislation. Don’t forget the Conservation Fees of $2 per barrel of oil and 20 cents per BTU of natural gas in Section 802 will be that much more we consumers must pay.
It prohibits the following authorities from developing a fishery management plan, which is the way we have been doing business: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Secretary of Commerce and Regional Fishery Management Councils. In other words, current management of our oceans within the United States will be superseded by the National Ocean Council, comprised of some of the most radical environmentalists in our Administration, co-chaired by Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality and Dr. John P. Holdren, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The true intent of the CLEAR Act and its associated documents will change the way we do business with regard to our land, oceans, coastal areas and Great Lakes. All air space above the oceans, what operates in, through, on or is derived from underneath the water, will be subject to taxes as a world resource to the United Nations – Agenda 21. These areas will no longer be owned and managed solely by the United States, as they are newly defined as a global revenue, “social justice” source per the Law of the Sea Treaty.
All life in these waterways and all adjacent land masses will be directly affected by this legislation. Decisions will be guided by the Rio Declaration of 1992, requiring no scientific proof of threats or damage to justify corrective action, more regulations and fines.
Consensus is the objective, but the president will make the final decision if one can’t be reached. The Administration will retain the final determination on resolving disputes with States and their governors (Section 222). [Read more at footnote 3]
- 7-30-2010: The House of Representatives passes the CLEAR ACT. Did House REP’s read it? Or are they sheep, thieves or traitors, proud of themselves for giving our AMERICA away?
READ THE BILL SENATORS… The House just gave away our sovereignty, and we are paying $900 million per year until 2040 to create three new bureaucracies: Bureau of Energy and Resource Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, plus all the inspectors and accountants that accompany them. No telling how much of this will be funneled through the International entities and councils even before the additional global taxes are eventually assessed on top of this.
The Interim Report states that the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force includes adherence to the Law of the Sea Treaty (page 14). Its purpose is to establish a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans. The Law of the Sea Treaty calls for technology transfers and wealth transfers from developed to undeveloped nations, and requires parties to the treaty to adopt regulations and laws to control pollution of the marine environment — all under the authority of the United Nations. Such provisions were among the reasons President Ronald Reagan rejected the treaty in 1982. As Edwin Meese, U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan explained recently, “…it was out of step with the concepts of economic liberty and free enterprise that Ronald Reagan was to inspire throughout the world.”
This Interim Report will provide a recommended framework for coastal and marine spatial planning and addresses conservation, economic activity, user conflicts and sustainable use — as well as social justice. Previously, there was no money for National Marine Fisheries Service to implement its mandates and to update its fisheries data collection system. But now with the “international flavor,” $900 million a year will be dedicated to a “global” approach to our land, oceans, coastal areas and Great Lakes. [Read more at footnote 1]
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ascertain the way to stop any sovereignty-killing legislation is in the House, not in the Senate. This is due to sheer numbers and because of the past “assists” bipolar senators such as Snowe, Collins, Lugar, Graham, McCain, Voinovich, Brownback, Castle and Scott Brown have provided.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is a strong proponent of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Other Republican senators that support this legislation include: Alexander (R-TN) and Murkowski (R-AK). Previously supportive were former Sens. Allen (VA), Hagel (NE), and Chafee (RI). There is no way to determine whether their replacements have been influenced (pay to play?) for upcoming votes. Remember, America has already missed the “House” opportunity because of Republicans not doing their jobs:
Those Republicans in the House that let America down by not being present and voting:
Parker Griffith (R-AL) C.W. Young (R-FL) Michael Rogers (R-MI)
John Shadegg (R-AZ) John Linder (GA) W. Akin (R-MO)
George Radanovich (R-CA) Stephen Buyer (R-IN) Roy Blount (R-MO)
Devin Nunes (R-CA) Jerry Moran (R-KS) Henry Brown (R-SC)
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) James Barrett (R-SC)
Howard McKeon (R-CA) Geoff Davis (R-KY) Zach Wamp (R-TN)
John Campbell (R-CA) Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) Samuel Johnson (R-TX)
Voting Present: Gary Miller (R-CA-42)
It is now incumbent on Americans, regardless of party, to contact senators to insist that America stay America — retaining sovereign rights to our lands, oceans, waterways, Great Lakes, our minerals, recreational and commercial fishing industries, transocean cables, commerce, oil/gas energy production, food sources, and the right to operate navy vessels to defend ourselves, including submarines that carry weapons.
The Senate must not vote in any way, shape or form for the sovereignty-robbing Consolidated Land, Energy, Aquatic Restoration Act, period.
Paul McKain, Independent candidate for Florida’s U.S. House District 2, researched and uncovered the initial information contained in this article after being asked to speak at a 9-11 Memorial Weekend in Northwest Florida. He is a former teacher, 23-year firefighter and inventor. He can be contacted at www.PaulMcKain.com.
Karen Schoen is a mortgage broker/owner and former teacher. She is the organizer of the Washington County Tea Party, thegulfspeaks.com and a radio show host on Repatriot Radio.__________________________________________________________
- Force recommendations regarding sustainable use of oceans, coastal areas and Great Lakes resources will be consistent with international law, including international law as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Further, it mandates international collaboration with the Artic Council, the International Maritime Organization, the International Whaling Commission and the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Spatial planning is double speak for catch shares, a concept that has not been reached by consensus of the commercial and recreational fishermen stakeholders involved. With the help of legislators, these stakeholders were previously advocating more flexibility in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. This would allow for more funding for the National Marine Fisheries Service to perform new stock assessments, as well as third-party, independent stock assessments, based on up- to-date data.
This report makes continual reference to resiliency and adaptation to climate change, ocean acidification and human interference on pages 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9,10,11,13,14,15,16. It makes reference to the division of our country into spatial divisions on pages 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14. Continual references are made to land use, starting on page 11. Joining the Law of the Sea Treaty starts on pages 2, 5, 12, 14, 16. Creation of the National Ocean Council is addressed on pages 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21.
Problematic is this statement: “Decisions concerning our oceans will be guided by the precautionary approach as reflected in the Rio Declaration of 1992 — stating that where there are threats of damage, lack of full scientific knowledge will not be used to postpone cost-effective measures.” http://www.eoearth.org/article/United_Nations_Conference_on_Environment_and_Development_(UNCED),_Rio_de_Janeiro,_Brazil#gen2
So if we humans are threatening the waters or the land, does that mean no scientific basis must be established before cost-effective measures are established and implemented to curtail man’s potential damage or harm to this water or land? In other words, no basis in science will be required to prove these hypothetical concepts or beliefs. So decisions don’t have to be evidence-based.
Further, monies will be used to create a diverse, interdisciplinary ocean-literate workforce that has the appropriate skills and training to capitalize on the opportunities as needed. In addition, formal and informal education programs will be developed and implemented to target grades K-12 and beyond which would create opportunities for enhanced appreciation of coastal and ocean issues and better prepare the workforce of the future (pages 31, 32).http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/09_17_09_Interim_Report_of_Task_Force_FINAL2.pdf
- This Executive Order assigns the National Ocean Council responsibility for implementation of the National Policy, ensuring execution of both the policy and the Administration’s objectives. Ultimately, it gives overall control of all other councils to the National Ocean Council.
Specifically, this order divides the United States into nine separate regions, initially affecting 30 states. The president will be the ultimate decision authority if a consensus can’t be reached (per Section 5 (b)). This is nothing short of absolutely scary!
The Department of the Treasury will maintain the Ocean Resources and Conservation and Assistance Fund to spend the $900 million annually for grants to coastal states and Indian tribes, the Oceans, Coastal and Great Lakes Program to be developed under this plan, and regional ocean partnerships.
Three parts to the Order:
According to this order the United States will be divided into 9 separate regions — initially affecting 30 states.
- Clear ACT H.R. 3534/H.R. 5626 Creates the Regional Outer Continental Shelf Council
a. coordinate siting and development of energy resources
b. prepare Outer Continental Shelf strategies — very vague statement!
- Each region will be dealt with separately, BUT all decisions will be made by CONSENSUS. If an agreement cannot be reached — the President will have the overall decision making power. As per Section 5 (b).
- Amends the Land and Water Conservation Fund to:
Make $900 million available to the fund for each fiscal year until 2040 without further appropriation. Establishes in the Treasury — the Ocean Resources and Conservation and Assistance Fund (ORCA) to spend the $900 million.
- Clear ACT H.R. 3534/H.R. 5626 Creates the Regional Outer Continental Shelf Council
- Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development
If your freedom is important to you, the most effective action that you can take is to e-mail this article and Michael Shaw’s “Understanding Agenda 21 Sustainable Development” booklet to all of your State Legislators, County Commissioners/ Superintendents and City Council members.
Agenda 21, the international plan of action to sustainable development, outlines key policies for achieving sustainable development that meets the needs of the poor and recognizes the limits of development to meet global needs. Agenda 21 has become the blueprint for sustainability and forms the basis for sustainable development strategies. It attempts to define a balance between production, consumption, population, development, and the Earth’s life-supporting capacity. It addresses poverty, excessive consumption, health and education, cities and agriculture; food and natural resource management and several more subjects. Its 40 chapters are broken up into four sections:
- Social and economic dimensions: developing countries; poverty; consumption patterns; population; health; human settlements; integrating environment and development.
- Conservation and management of resources: atmosphere; land; forests; deserts; mountains; agriculture; biodiversity; biotechnology; oceans; fresh water; toxic chemicals; hazardous, radioactive and solid waste and sewage.
- Strengthening the role of major groups: women; children and youth; indigenous peoples; non-governmental organizations; local authorities; workers; business and industry; farmers; scientists and technologists.
- Means of implementation: finance; technology transfer; science; education; capacity-building; international institutions; legal measures; information.
- Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST)
According to Cliff Kincaid, America’s Survival, Inc., the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty is a measure so extreme that former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Jeane Kirkpatrick said it was viewed as the cornerstone of a Marxist-oriented New International Economic Order (NIEO). This was conceived as a scheme to transfer money and technology from the U.S. and other developed countries to the Third World.1 Kirkpatrick strongly opposed ratification of LOST.
Elisabeth Mann Borgese, a world government activist, was described as the “Mother of the Oceans” or “First Lady of the Oceans” for her role in crafting and promoting LOST.5 She not only stated her admiration for Karl Marx, the father of communism, but was an ardent advocate of the New International Economic Order.
Borgese identified several “major issues” on which LOST and the NIEO “could reinforce each other.” These included:
- LOST’s recognition of the oceans being the “Common Heritage of Mankind,” thereby placing poor countries on an “equal” relationship with advanced countries and “a right to share in the resources that had been declared to be the Common Heritage of Mankind.”
- Creation of Exclusive Economic Zones, giving coastal states control “over all resources and economic uses in a 200-mile zone.”
- Establishment of the International Seabed Authority, giving developing countries a role in “financial decision-making” on a global level.
An official 1997 World Federalist Association publication declared:
“The final treaty marked real progress in establishing global governance by…stipulating that mining of the seabeds beyond national waters should require payment of royalties to the LOS [Law of the Sea] organization, thereby creating a funding resource that would be independent of voluntary contributions by the treaty member nations. These are the elements of a limited world government in a very restricted field that is nevertheless significant.” (emphasis added).17
From acceptance of the concept of “the common heritage of mankind,” Borgese figured that adoption of global taxes would follow. Gradually, she wrote, “a development tax might be levied on all commercial uses of the global commons, starting with the oceans…”30
While she was described as the mother or First Lady of the Oceans, Borgese described Avid Pardo as “the father of the Law of the Sea” who proposed “a tax to be paid by States on the exploitation of natural resources within national ocean space.” This concept, also embraced by Borgese, was incorporated in LOST.32
It was in 1967 that Pardo,33 who became a Maltese delegate to the United Nations,34 proclaimed that the seas beyond national jurisdiction belong to “the common heritage of mankind.” He declared that the poor of the world wanted a small percentage of the profits from undersea mini
Borgese made it clear that key provisions of the treaty — never eliminated or altered by amendment — would guarantee establishment of this “new world order.” Foremost among these, she cited
The International Seabed Authority, the “first institution to apply the economics of the Common Heritage in the No-man’s land of the deep ocean floor…”
She believed that the International Seabed Authority and coastal states could regulate “the routing, laying and the maintenance” of fiber optic cables on the ocean floor.41 This would include, she said, “the payment of fees for licenses, property taxes for cable head-ends, etc. The Authority, at present, has no such powers, but clearly, it should have them.”
She added, “For the safety of the cables themselves, the Authority must ensure the avoidance of conflict of uses of the area, it must agree to the routing and know exactly where these cables are and be informed about their maintenance. In return for these regulatory activities the Authority would be entitled to some payments. A minimal tax, either in the form of a Tobin tax, let us say of 0.001 percent on the trillion dollar annual business transacted through the cables, crossing the Area which is the Common Heritage of Mankind would not only revitalize the Authority but change the whole picture of international development cooperation and constitute a first positive answer to the insistent call ‘by the World Bank, the United Nations system and the developing countries’ for ‘innovative ways’ of generating ‘new and additional funding’ to enable developing countries to implement all the Conventions, Agreements and programs emanating from the Earth Summit of 1992.”
One former Law of the Sea Treaty negotiator told us:
There are a lot of pollution provisions in the convention. It sounds like they can do more with it than the negotiators intended. Since they didn’t get their global warming treaty (ratified by the U.S.), I worry about treaty provisions on emissions and anthropogenic (human-caused) inputs into the ocean that cause pollution. They could turn this into a global warming issue. Could they bring a case against us because we have pipes that put out sewage or air pollution that finds its way into the ocean?
But there is also a military component to the treaty.
“In this connection, Borgese believed that LOST prohibits the ability of nuclear submarines to rove freely through the world’s oceans and that the measure could be used to “eliminate the nuclear denizens of the deep and to protect the oceans as our common global heritage.”
In an article co-authored with an international lawyer,45 Borgese noted how LOST, or UNCLOS, as supporters call it ( for U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea) stipulates that the oceans “shall be reserved for peaceful purposes.” (emphasis in original)46 and that “any threat or use of force, inconsistent with the United Nations Charter, is prohibited.”47
She added, “In 1982, when UNCLOS was opened for signature, it was not certain how this applied to the deployment of nuclear weapons. However, since then, the International Court of Justice, in its historic advisory opinion of 1996, determined that ‘the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.’ Nuclear weapons deployed on submarines are in a state of readiness to use and are thus a threat of use, according to the definition given by the ICJ, and illegal.”
Gulf Oil Spill: A Crisis Created to Back Door Climate Legislation?
- April 20, 2010: BP oil rig explosion causes 'volcano of oil' to erupt into the Gulf of Mexico.
- June 7, 2010: According to a federal document, a nearby drilling rig, the Ocean Saratoga, has been leaking since at least April 30 (this story is not covered by mainstream news sources).
- July 15, 2010: After 85 days, after 206 million gallons of crude oil gushed into the Gulf, and after dumping two million gallons of the highly-toxic dispersant Corexit into the Gulf, BP places a temporary cap on the well.
- July 16, 2010: Two oil pipelines near China's Dalian's Xingang Harbor expode, igniting a roaring inferno shooting flames 60 feet into the air and spilling an estimated 11,000 barrels of oil into the Yellow Sea.
- July 26, 2010: Pipeline spills more than one million gallons of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River before leak is stopped.
- July 28, 2010: Barge hits wellhead of an abandoned well in southeastern Louisiana, spewing a mixture of oil, natural gas, and water into Barataria Bay.
- July 30, 2010: In response to the oil spill in the Gulf, House passes scaled-back version of the CLEAR Act, aimed at reforming offshore drilling (but with the possibility of adding caps on carbon emissions back into the bill during "conference" talks between the House and Senate).
- August 4, 2010: BP claims victory in plugging blown-out oil well in Gulf.
- September 2, 2010: A fire breaks out on another oil rig platform in the Gulf.
- September 3, 2010: New blowout preventer is placed on the blown-out Deepwater Horizon well.
- September 19, 2010: Blown-out BP oil well declared dead after five months.
Halliburton was forced to admit in testimony at a congressional hearing last month that it carried out a cementing operation 20 hours before the Gulf of Mexico rig went up in flames. The lawsuits claim that four Halliburton workers stationed on the rig improperly capped the well. Oil services contractor Halliburton Inc. says it safely finished a cementing operation 20 hours before a Gulf of Mexico rig went up inflames, killing 11 men and ultimately causing a massive oil spill. In testimony prepared for a congressional hearing, Halliburton says it completed work on the well according to accepted industry practice and federal regulators. Halliburton executive Tim Probert says a pressure test was conducted after the work was finished, and the well owner decided to continue. The cause of the April 20 explosion is under investigation, but lawsuits filed after the disaster claim it was caused when Halliburton workers improperly capped the well -- a process known as cementing. Halliburton denies wrongdoing. - The Associated Press, Halliburton Says It Finished Cementing Operation 20 Hours Before Rig Explosion, May 10, 2010
In the House of Representatives, Democrats are preparing to vote on a tough bill (CLEAR Act) Friday that would clamp down on offshore oil and gas drillers. In addition to eliminating the oil spill liability cap, the bill would impose tough new safety rules and ban BP from getting new offshore oil exploration leases for up to seven years for its role in the Gulf oil spill. Any differences between the House and Senate bills would have to be reconciled, which could prove difficult with the looming August recess and November elections. Some Republicans fear that Democrats could use a possible post-election session to ram an energy and climate control bill through Congress. - Reuters, Senate Unveils Scaled-back Version of Climate Bill, Taking Advantage of the 'Crisis in the Gulf' by Focusing on Offshore Drilling Rather Than Carbon Emissions, July 27, 2010
Senate Democrats unveiled a bill on Tuesday that omits setting caps on carbon emissions -- the key element of a more comprehensive energy and climate bill that failed to gain sufficient support in the Senate. Obama said it was "an important step in the right direction" but it was not enough: "I want to emphasize it's only the first step and I intend to keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation." Obama, who spoke before details of the Senate proposal were disclosed, did not set out a timetable for a future climate push and it is very unlikely that any legislation on the subject will be passed this year. If likely Republican gains in November elections change the balance of power in Congress, climate change legislation would face an even more uncertain future. With that in mind, the White House indicated on Tuesday that climate provisions could be added back into a bill once negotiators from the Senate and the House of Representatives hammer out differences between their respective versions during "conference" talks. The House bill, passed last year, includes climate provisions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. - Reuters, Obama Says will Keep Pushing for Climate Bill, July 27, 2010
The House approved a bill (CLEAR Act) Friday to boost safety standards for offshore drilling, remove a federal cap on economic liability for oil spills, and impose new fees on oil and gas production. Democratic leaders hailed the bill as a comprehensive response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and said it would increase drilling safety and crack down on oil companies such as BP. The legislation, which passed 209-193, has yet to be taken up in the Senate, where partisan disagreements will likely delay final consideration of a joint House-Senate bill until after the August congressional recess. - Associated Press, House Approves Bill on Drilling, Oil Spills (CLEAR Act), July 30, 2010
By the time the full Congress completes action on this offshore drilling bill (CLEAR Act) -- and it is uncertain that it will -- it could be November or later. A similar offshore drilling bill is pending in the Senate, without the House's new provision to end the drilling moratorium. But it was unlikely that measure would pass before that chamber begins its summer recess on August 6... The Senate energy bill has an added component: new incentives to encourage more natural gas-powered trucks and electric vehicles to clean up the environment. It also provides $5 billion to help improve home energy efficiency. But Senate Democrats abandoned attempts to attach climate change provisions that would have set mandatory limits on some companies' carbon dioxide emissions. - Reuters, House approves oil spill reform bill, July 30, 2010
June 25, 2010
Thanks to BP's oil spill, significant climate-change legislation now has a real shot at passing, though not because it will gain votes for the Senate's struggling energy-reform bills. Democrats have another tactic in mind.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's latest energy strategy is to fold a comprehensive climate bill in with bipartisan legislation reforming the oil industry. The "spill bill," a response to the BP oil spill that would impose new safety and environmental rules and reform regulation of offshore oil exploration, is fast-tracked for approval in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee next week. Both Democrats and Republicans have rallied behind the need for refined regulation to ensure that a disaster like the Gulf spill does not happen again. Democrats are hoping that by sneaking energy provisions into the bill, Republicans won't be able to vote against it without looking like they're siding with Big Oil.
Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, lays out the dilemma Democrats are hoping to place in Republicans' laps:
People have never been enamored with big oil companies, and now they're even angrier at them. The upcoming debate will pose a choice for senators to either vote with Big Oil and block reform or vote with the American people to make our rigs safer, reduce oil use, and reduce oil pollution.
Democrats took a similar strategy with financial reform, using the economic collapse to pressure Republicans into voting for more Wall Street regulation. Next week's vote will determine the success of this strategy once and for all, but Democrats are confident that the bill will enjoy bipartisan support. With climate, however, they'd risk torpedoing vital reforms to the oil industry if the strategy did not work.
They'd also risk compromising key energy provisions, not just because of the dual-bill strategy but because of the accelerated timeline. Democrats have not yet decided which climate legislation they want to pursue. At caucus meetings yesterday and last week, they debated the merits of three different bills: John Kerry and Joe Lieberman's cap-and-trade version, Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins' cap-and-dividend one (CLEAR Act), and Jeff Bingaman's energy-only bill.
Emerging from yesterday's closed-door meeting, Democrats were bizarrely effusive about the proceedings. According to The Hill, Lieberman called the meeting "absolutely thrilling," Reid termed it "very, very powerful" -- "inspirational, quite frankly," and Kerry said it was "without doubt one of the most motivating, energized, and even inspirational caucuses that I've been part of since I've been here in the Senate in 26 years." Asked about specifics, however, Kerry was mum.
Climatewire reported that Chuck Schumer suggested assembling a small group of Democrats to draft compromise legislation and rally the party around it. A similar method was used to pass the health care bill, which, though it did not get any Republican votes, did eventually achieve relatively unified Democratic backing. This kind of party discipline would be vital to passing a joint oil/energy bill and would likely require similar strong-handed maneuvering to achieve. Democrats have been far from united on the climate front, with some refusing to vote for a bill that does not price carbon and others refusing to vote for one that does. Coal and oil state Dems are in a particularly tough spot and will likely require extensive provisions for clean coal technology and nuclear energy as well as a compromise on offshore drilling.
Yesterday's caucus meeting did signal a shift in tone, however, and attendees were glowing about a renewed sense of unity and purpose. The decision to lump energy in with the oil bill is a change of strategy, one that shows Democrats are ready to play hardball. If Senate leaders and the White House back this effort with the force they (eventually) put behind health care, it could have its first realistic shot in a long time at passage this year.