A few hours ago Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer convened a hearing entitled Moving America toward a Clean Energy Economy and Reducing Global Warming Pollution: Legislative Tools.
Today's hearing marks the start of work in the Senate on Climate and Energy legislation following the passage by the House of H.R.2554, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, on June 26th.
Four senior Obama administration officials will sit before the committee today, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Also joining the panel are Republican governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour, Dow Chemical vice president for energy Rich Wells, director of the Climate Center for the Natural Resources Defense Council David Hawkins, and John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania.
This is the start of a long line of Senate climate hearings in an effort for Democrats to forge a bill that can muster the 60 votes needed for passage by the September 18th deadline imposed by Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Boxer is optimistic that the hard work will lead to successful passage of climate legislation:
We did a dry run," Boxer said, referring to last year's failure to pass similar legislation in the Senate. "We did it with a different president and opposition from the executive. And we did it before the House. It was a very important thing that we did it because it showed everyone just how difficult it is, where the problems lay.
"So I'm feeling much better about it this time because I went through that experience," Boxer added. "And because the House passed the bill and because the president is so committed."
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse told assembled administration officials that a "new economy" beckons for the U.S. if concerted action is taken to avert the worst consequences of climate change - in effect saying that one of the toughest problems the nation faces is also one of its greatest opportunities.
Sources and further reading
New York Times