Photo courtesy of the AP.

Photo courtesy of the AP.

Last Thursday, July 27, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the abandonment of comprehensive climate legislation, shifting to a much more limited oil spill response-bill with minor energy efficiency provisions. Reid had been hard-pressed to rally sufficient support in the Senate for a market-wide cap on carbon, or even one imposed solely on electric utilities. “It’s easy to count to 60,” he said last week. “I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade. My point is this, we know where we are. We know we don’t have the votes…This is a step forward.”

A roundup of the reactions to Reid’s announcement from various organizations and news outlets is below:


The New York Times, Dot Earth blog, Next Steps on Climate and Energy

“The 20th century ended on Friday, at least in relation to the discourse over what to do about global warming. The end came with the failure of a seven-year effort in the Senate to pass a climate bill centered on a cap-and-trade system for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.”

TIME, Ecocentric blog, “Why the Climate Bill Died

“Ultimately the threat of global warming didn’t galvanize the public to the point where they would demand change. There are lots of reasons for this—disinformation campaigns by fossil fuel interests, the overblown controversy of “climategate,” a media corps that too rarely puts global warming in the right context. But until that changes—and the public demands change—ambitious climate legislation will remain dead.”

The Washington Post, Ezra Klein, Why a Climate Bill Failed

“It’s no surprise that Congress is collapsing beneath the weight of an energy bill. Climate change, a long-range problem that will primarily harm developing countries and require immediate and difficult policy changes on the part of rich countries that will impose huge costs on particular regions of the United States, is exactly the sort of problem our system can’t handle.”

The Breakthrough Institute, “Myths About the Death of Cap and Trade

“By now it should be clear that if cap and trade can’t pass with 59 Democrats in the Senate and a Democratic President that came into office promising to make climate change a flagship issue, it is not going to pass. It’s clear that this is the end of cap and trade for a long time. Until clean energy technologies are made much cheaper than they are today, substantially reducing carbon emissions will remain expensive, and cap and trade will continue to fail.”

The Alliance for Climate Protection, “Statement on Senate Comprehensive Climate Legislation

“It is wrong that hundreds of millions of lobbying and advertising dollars from big oil and dirty coal, along with obstruction by the Republican leadership in the Senate, have blocked debate and action on comprehensive climate and energy legislation.”

Environmental Defense Fund, “The Consequences of Inaction on Climate Change

“With a crowded Congressional calendar, and time running out, this announcement is discouraging. Will the Senate decide to take any meaningful steps? Right now it’s a long shot, but we’ll continue to work doggedly for a good Congressional outcome.”

League of Conservation Voters, A Message to Our Members and Supporters

“It’s deeply disappointing that Big Oil, Dirty Coal and their allies in the Senate, led by the Republican leadership, continue to stand in the way of creating a clean energy economy that creates jobs, makes America more energy independent and protects the planet. The twin challenges of building a clean energy economy and addressing global warming are too important to fail.”

National Resources Defense Council, “NRDC to Senate Climate Obstructionists: Stop Blocking Our Future

“Over the recess we must deliver a message to senators: ‘Do your job!  We face a triple threat of a stagnant economy, ballooning energy insecurity, and a climate that is coming apart.  Don’t fail us.  Don’t fail our children.  Don’t come home again without having tackled these real and present dangers.”

Republicans for Environmental Protection, “Reid, Obama Squander Climate Leadership Opportunity

“We are very disappointed that the president and Senate majority leader have squandered opportunity after opportunity to address the nation’s energy problems and safeguard our climate…Neither one of them has been willing to support a specific proposal and expend the political capital needed to build consensus and drive it towards passage.”

Sierra Club, “Senate Must Act Now on Oil and Clean Energy

“Given the unfortunate political reality in Washington today, it is absolutely imperative that the Senate must at least follow through with Majority Leader Reid’s proposal to pass a bill that reduces oil dependence and creates clean energy jobs before the August recess.”

Union of Concerned Scientists, “Senate Has Absolute Responsibility to Address Climate Change

“The Senate has an absolute responsibility to act on climate change this year. Senators allied with the oil and coal industries must get out of the way and allow the Senate to act…It’s long past time for the Senate to protect our future. It should not let this opportunity slip away.”

Climate Progress, “The Failed Presidency of Barack Obama, Part I

“Since Obama ignored the call for direct personal involvement on comprehensive climate and energy action, one can only assume he is just not that into it.  Future generations and future historians will judge him accordingly…The chances of  anything beyond a utility-only greenhouse gas control regime in the next two years is  vanishingly small.”

Grist, “On the Death of the Climate Bill

“I’m frustrated with Obama’s passivity on this issue. I’m frustrated with Reid. I’m frustrated with the environmental movement. But we should be clear about where the bulk of the responsibility for this farce ultimately lies: the Republican Party and a handful of “centrist” Democrats in the Senate. They are the ones who refused to vote for a bill, no matter how many compromises were made, no matter how clear the urgency of the problem.”

The Huffington Post, Harry Reid, Paving the Way to Our Clean Energy Future

“As Majority Leader, I had a tough call to make: either allow Republicans’ delaying tactics to stop us from doing anything on energy, or do what we can to create green jobs, address the Gulf oil spill and continue to gather support for a comprehensive clean energy bill. I chose the latter option to ensure that these goals can be accomplished now instead of later.”

The New Republic, The Vine blog, Reid Splits Oil-Spill Response From Climate Bill—Is That Wise?

“Is it a smart strategy to separate the oil-spill provisions from everything else? The thing about the spill-response legislation was that it was popular…Including rig regulations in a broader energy/climate bill might have improved the chances of passing the whole thing. But what happens if the two are split apart? The odds of a climate bill plummet.”

The New York Times, Editorial Page, “With a Whimper

“On Thursday, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, abandoned the fight for meaningful energy and climate legislation. The Republicans — surprise — had been fiercely obstructionist. But the Democratic leaders let them get away with it, as did the White House.”

The New York Times, Thomas Friedman, We’re Gonna Be Sorry

“The truth is, the public, confused and stressed by the last two years, never got mobilized to press for this legislation. We will regret it.”

The New York Times, Paul Krugman, Who Cooked the Planet?

“So it wasn’t the science, the scientists, or the economics that killed action on climate change. What was it? The answer is, the usual suspects: greed and cowardice. If you want to understand opposition to climate action, follow the money…By itself, however, greed wouldn’t have triumphed. It needed the aid of cowardice — above all, the cowardice of politicians who know how big a threat global warming poses, who supported action in the past, but who deserted their posts at the crucial moment.”

POLITICO, “Climate Bill Blame Game Begins

“Many say it was Obama who didn’t do enough to make the climate bill a big enough priority, allowing other monster big-ticket items like the economic stimulus, health care and Wall Street reform to suck up all the oxygen and leaving environmentalists grasping for straws too late in the game – well past the expiration date for other big accomplishments during the 111th Congress.”

Rolling Stone, “Climate Bill, R.I.P.

“A comprehensive energy and climate bill – the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda – is officially dead. Take it from the president’s own climate czar, Carol Browner. “What is abundantly clear,” she told Rolling Stone in an exclusive interview on July 8th, “is that an economy-wide program, which the president has talked about for years now, is not doable in the Senate.”

San Francisco Chronicle, “Climate Change Plan Collapses in Senate

“The result is an undeniable defeat in stemming climate change in this country. It echoes overseas also with other countries wondering about American resolve on a global issue. The high-wire deal struck in a climate change conference last year in Copenhagen to reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020 looks very far away.”

The Wall Street Journal, Washington Wire blog, No Cap and Trade? Form Circle, Start Firing

“Many Democrats, led by Reid, are, of course, blaming Republicans. Republicans, in turn, pointed out that a significant cadre of Senate Democrats, mainly from industrial and coal-producing states, had no appetite for the cap-and-trade concept. “His own party doesn’t support the idea,” said Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska).”