Greens Pound Democrats For Climate Bill Collapse

In a rare political turn-about, leading environmentalists are blaming an unusual suspect in the collapse of a landmark climate bill over the weekend: the Democrats.

Leading green opinionators Joe Romm of Climate Progress and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times are pointing the finger of accusation at Democratic Senator Harry Reid and the White House for the 11th hour derailing of the bill, which was supposed to be announced Monday to great fanfare.

The bill entered political limbo on Saturday when Republican Senator Lindsey Graham ditched negotiations after learning Reid planned to put an as-yet-unwritten immigration bill ahead of the climate bill. Graham called the move by Reid, who is courting Hispanic voters in a tough re-election fight a “cynical political ploy.”

Romm and Friedman agree.

On his blog Romm said he’s “now putting this on the White House,” while Friedman called the collapse “a travesty” in a NYT oped, adding on Face the Nation that “right now in Beijing they are high-fiveing each other” because America won’t be able to compete in clean technology without a comprehensive bill.

But an attorney who represents utilities, Scott Segal, told Climatewire, that there were already “smoldering” problems with the climate bill compromise before the immigration about-face “lit the match.”

“While it’s tempting to view the immigration dust-up as an external force disrupting the climate discussion, all was not completely well even before the recent events,” he said, echoing statements by Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.

And indeed, given the highly partisan state of the Senate, it seems unlikely the bill, which would require the votes of 6 to 8 Republicans to cover the defection of some coal-state and midwestern Democrats, could beat a filibuster.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

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