Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Harman Opposes Effort to Pre-Empt California's Energy Policy Indepenence"

That's the headline to the press release on her website dated June 7th.
[...] [Harman said:]“I oppose any legislation that includes such a provision and will introduce an amendment to strike this provision from the Committee bill.”

A bipartisan group of Governors across the country oppose federal efforts to preempt states’ ability to set energy standards. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and seven other governors wrote yesterday that “states are at the forefront of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our nation’s dependency on carbon-based fuels. . . . Congress must preserve states’ ability to fight greenhouse gas emissions now.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” said Harman. “It will take a partnership between federal and state governments to implement bold change. This preemption provision destroys that partnership.”

I had thought I'd checked her site for announcements on this issue (it might not have been online yet?), and when I called on Monday to ask about why she was saying Pelosi wouldn't have her vote for an alternative bill that didn't have the pre-emption provision in it - if it came to that - nobody referred me to that press release.

Anyways, there's a bit of a mixed signal going on here with her statement to the Sac Bee and in her press release. Perhaps things were in motion where she was on the issue and/or the Sac Bee interpreted things a little far. Both of these items happended at about the same time: The press release is dated June 7th, and the article from the Sacramento Bee is dated June 8th.

The article has Harman saying Pelosi wouldn't have her vote on an energy bill crafted outside the committee, while her very clear statement saying "Congress must preserve states’ ability to fight greenhouse gas emissions now" suggests that all cards are on the table for her, if you assume she believes an energy bill needs to be passed.

Looking ahead, it seems likely that the amendment will fail and the bill that comes out of the committee will still have the pre-emption provision. Meaning that the only way an energy bill will get done that doesn't pre-empt California's energy policy will be if it is drafted outside of Dingell's committee.

If the anti-environmental leadership of this energy committee -- Dingell and Boucher -- know that they've got a bunch of Democratic reps who:

1) will only vote for a bill that comes out of their committee, and
2) believe getting energy bill done is necessary,

then they will be emboldened in forcing the issue on this provision. They will see an end-game where they can get their bill passed because they'll be "the only game in town".

Hopefully Harman will walk back from her statement to the Sac Bee and give notice to those guys that she won't be one of those Democrats -- that is, that she's not taking "any options" off the table to get a good bill done.

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