The new Arizona immigration law has muddied the political waters in Washington, D.C. and potentially killed climate change legislation for this year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has now said he plans to prioritize immigration reform over climate change. This has caused Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to pull away from the compromise measure he was working on with Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and potentially ruining the chances the climate change bill will be considered on the floor this year.
This weekend negotiators had reportedly reached consensus to scrap a controversial carbon linkage fee on oil and gas that some industry groups said was a gas tax. But a Monday news conference to unveil the legislation was cancelled as Graham looked for a commitment to deal with climate change before immigration.
Some say the last-minute collapse has destroyed the principals' credibility and any opportunity for a bipartisan compromise. An environmentalist close to the negotiations said it depends whether this is a pothole or sinkhole. If it's not worked out in a few days they say that's a pretty bad sign.
If climate change and energy legislation is indeed dead, the Environmental Protection Agency will begin regulating carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Stakeholders on both sides of the climate talks say that looks increasingly likely unless the Senate negotiations get back on track.