- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rep. Edward J. Markey, co-author of the climate change bill that passed the House this summer, predicted Wednesday that the legislation would spur a technological revolution similar to the one that brought affordable satellite dishes and digital cell phones to the marketplace a decade ago.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who helped write landmark telecommunications legislation in the 1990s, recalled how companies told him “don’t do it, it’s too risky.” But the result of the legislation has been the birth of BlackBerrys and 12-inch satellite dishes, he said.

“The market-based approach in technology created a revolution for telecommunications, and it will create an opportunity in energy as well,” Mr. Markey said at a conference on climate change sponsored by The Washington Times.

The bill, co-authored with Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, calls for putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions and forces polluters to pay for the right to emit the greenhouse gas - moves Mr. Markey expects will drive new technology to lower the costs.


But opponents of the measure, who also appeared at Wednesday’s conference, asserted that it had no chance to pass in the Senate, where it’s now pending. Others, including President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, also challenged the idea that global warming was caused by humans at all.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, dismissed the notion that lawmakers are rushing to pass legislation in advance of an international meeting next month in Copenhagen, where an anti-global warming treaty could be written. He instead called the efforts in the United States and in Congress theatrics.

“What’s happening here in the United States and what’s happening as we speak down on Capitol Hill is all theater, preparing for Copenhagen; everything that they’re doing is an effort to make it look like we’re going to do something in Copenhagen,” said the Oklahoma Republican, who is leading the fight against the bill.

Mr. Inhofe said a climate bill will pass the Senate environment committee because there are enough Democrats on the panel to vote for it, but he predicted the legislation would not pass on the chamber’s floor this year.

In addition, he said the Senate was unlikely to ratify the global-pollution reduction treaty if it does not include all nations.

Sen. Mike Johanns, Nebraska Republican, echoed Mr. Inhofe’s expectation that a climate bill would not pass the Senate this year. He added that the chamber was unlikely to pass the version of the bill passed by the House in June.

“We’re going to see a bill come to the [Senate] floor for full debate, and it will get a lot of debate, but I don’t see any combination of 60 senators that will pass it,” Mr. Johanns said of the number of votes needed to pass a controversial bill on the Senate floor.

The Senate is so tied up with health care reform, another top agenda item for President Obama, that it probably won’t have time for a vote on climate legislation before year’s end, he said.

Mr. Klaus said he doesn’t think humans have caused a gradual warming of the planet and thus he sees no reason to “solve a non-existent problem.”

He said forums like the one that will take place in Copenhagen are efforts by political leaders to create a “world government” and the notion of forcing countries to cut their pollution “is structurally very similar to communism.”

“More or less the issue is the same, and communism is over, and I see very similar ‘-isms,’ ” Mr. Klaus said. “Basically, it’s the same debate as it used to be in the past.”