Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
The New Yorker on Climate Legislation
Obama and the Senate “missed a chance” to get comprehensive climate legislation. You cannot be serious.
Read the whole thing.Â Really.Â Because if you donâ€™t, and all you do is read the subtitle â€” How the Senate and the White House missed their best chance to deal with climate change â€” or just read the tag line â€” â€œEverybody is going to be thinking about whether Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate changeâ€ â€” then you will get a totally distorted view of the piece.
The article makes it abundantly clear that from the start, onlyÂ a miracleÂ could have gotten comprehensive climate change legislation through the Senate, perhaps the worldâ€™s Most Dysfunctional Legislative Body.Â Hereâ€™s the money quote, regarding the efforts to get Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on board:
Back in Washington, Graham warned Lieberman and Kerry that they needed to get as far as they could in negotiating the bill â€œbefore Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process,â€ one of the people involved in the negotiations said. â€œHe would say, â€˜The second they focus on us, itâ€™s gonna be all cap-and-tax all the time, and itâ€™s gonna become just a disaster for me on the airwaves. We have to move this along as quickly as possible.â€™ â€
Move a billÂ deeply changing several key sectors ofÂ the US economy quickly and quietly through the Senate so that Fox News doesnâ€™t realize itâ€™s a serious process?Â John McEnroe has the only real response to that.Â If thatâ€™s the only way that weâ€™ll get a real climate bill through the Senate, then the answer is that weâ€™re not going to get a climate bill through the Senate.
The articleÂ discusses someÂ major tactical errors by the White House, and notes that Obama basically washed his hands of the thing by this part spring, but the line about James Buchanan â€” coming from an unnamed environmental lobbyist â€” is really just a cheap shot, not to mention completely inaccurate.Â If the energy companies secede from the Union, then come talk to me.Â Although at times it suggests weakly that had Obama invested the kind of effort on climate that he had on health care, he could have gotten a bill, even the author (Ryan Lizza) doesnâ€™t really seem to believe it.
Instead, the article teaches quite clearly that if the US is going to do something about climate, it will come:
1.Â Through states and localities;
2.Â Through the courts, under the public nuisance lawsuits; and
3.Â Through the EPA regulating emissions.
Only once that process starts in earnest will there be any chance for Congress to move.Â And with the results of the November elections looking bad for the Democrats, it might not even move then.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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