- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It looks as if the White House is starting to take an active role in pushing climate change legislation after sitting out the early weeks of the House debate on the climate bill.

President Obama meets with members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday at the White House to discuss pending health care and climate legislation, a White House aide confirmed.

Although House Democratic leaders have set an ambitious schedule for passing a climate bill by Memorial Day, that deadline has become increasingly tight after a week of hearings in late April dredged up serious concerns from Democratic members of the committee.

Rep. Edward J. Markey, who co-authored the climate bill, originally said he would like to see the markup begin in his subcommittee last week. That was pushed back to this week, and could be pushed off another week as Democrats seek the votes necessary to pass the bill.

Tensions grew last week between House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, who is leading the climate debate in the House, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen during a Democratic leadership meeting. Mr. Van Hollen questioned the wisdom of forcing freshman Democrats from centrist districts to take a politically difficult vote on a climate bill, which is likely to die in the Senate, Roll Call reported Monday.

Green and beautiful

It’s only half as long as People magazine’s more famous list, but the enviro/social activist Web site Tonic is touting its own selection of the “50 Most Beautiful People.”

The writers at Tonic, www.Tonic.com, put together the list based on acts that “make the world a more beautiful place” and focused on people “with deep souls, warm hearts and brilliant minds; the definition of true beauty.”

Two New York heroes — pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger, who saved his crew and passengers in a controlled landing into the icy Hudson River earlier this year, and Chad Lindsey, a New York actor who rescued an injured man from subway tracks in March — made the list.

Enviro-friendly makeup artist Christy Coleman and green urban planner Neil Chambers also made the list.

Small victories

Continuing in the green altruism department, a nonprofit awards group said last week that smaller, bare-bones groups tend to do better work than their larger, more mainstream counterparts.

GreatNonprofits conducted an informal survey of Web visitors last month and found that smaller, more nimble groups, such as the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group, outpaced more entrenched organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council.

More than 26,000 people visited the group’s Web site, www.GreatNonprofits.org, submitting 835 reviews of more than 100 environmental organizations.

The week ahead

While House leaders will continue wrangling votes for the climate bill this week, Senate leaders are pushing a sparser package.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will take up renewable energy mandates, nuclear financing and power-line siting authority — all large issues, but none quite as politically delicate for lawmakers as the carbon-trading plan being discussed in the House.

On Wednesday, the committee takes up legislation giving the federal government more power in building power lines, part of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s push to plug more renewable energy sources into the national electric grid.

On Thursday, the Senate panel will hear testimony on the security of the national electric grid, and the subcommittee on energy will hear testimony on improving the grid, increasing clean energy deployment and diversifying the nation’s energy suppliers.

Tom LoBianco can be reached at tlobianco@washingtontimes.com.

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