The Road to Bali -- A Half Step Backward

12/07/2007 08:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Washington, DC -- Only 24 hours after the House and Senate Environment Committee sent the UN Global Warming conference in Bali some very positive signals, the full Senate showed that under the tyranny of minority rule -- otherwise known as the filibuster -- the US still can't carry out its leadership responsibilities in the world. 53 Senators voted to pass the comprehensive energy reform bill that emerged yesterday from the House -- only 42 voted "nay" -- but under Senate rules it takes sixty to break a filibuster, so the bill failed to move forward for a vote.

Majority Leader Reid is now likely to see if he can move the pieces of this package forward by having separate up or down votes, starting next week, but it is stunning to consider that, with gasoline prices near record highs, the Arctic ice cap melting at unprecedented levels, and war still raging in the Persian Gulf, 40 Republicans and two Democrats could fail to stand up to Big Carbon.

Senators who voted no, or who didn't vote, NEED TO HEAR ABOUT IT FROM YOU. Eventually, the comprehensive reforms in this bill will pass, but not -- thanks to the filibuster, the Republican leadership, the White House, and Big Carbon -- before Bali commences.

I'm leaving for Bali this weekend. One of the things I'll be looking for is whether or not Der Spiegel is right in its speculation that the Bush Administration has been seeking a secret, backroom deal with China and India to deadlock the conference. Actually, the issue is not so much whether Bush offials are seeking such a deal, but whether China and India will dance with the White House devil.

Meanwhile, at the Bali conference, word is seeping out that the Bush Administration -- and Washington in general -- is not America, and that while the official US position is a drag (Salon called it a bummer), America's cities and states are moving the country forward.

I doubt Bali will be the beginning of the end in our struggle to find solutions to climate change. But, to paraphrase Churchill, it must be the end of the beginning.


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