In a bit of a surprise, Sen. John Kerry (R-Mass.) has taken the lead on the Senate climate change bill – a surprise because it was widely expected Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) would do so – but regardless, this is a topic Kerry has had an interest in for a long time. The Washington Post has a lengthy interview with Kerry, and do go over and read the whole thing, but let’s see what Kerry thinks about nuclear energy:
[The Post’s LOIS] ROMANO: So you have said yourself, this is a work in progress?
SENATOR KERRY: It is. I think we have a terrific starting point, and I'm proud of the progress that we've made. We have a nuclear title in there that actually embraces the notion that nuclear is going to be part of the solution, and we need to simplify and, in fact, accelerate the ability to get decisions and let that market work or not work on its own.
No complaint from us. The bill as presented had seemed to us like a Christmas tree without ornaments – the nuclear title is almost barren, but so are many of the others – and Kerry confirms what we suspected: that the various committees will start hanging those ornaments as they work through the bill.
Kerry gets even more explicit on this point:
MS. ROMANO: You've mentioned nuclear energy a couple of times, but now we also have a leading Republican Senator, John McCain [R-Ariz.], saying he will not support it because there's not enough new funding for nuclear energy. Where's the…
SENATOR KERRY: Well, on the contrary, we've opened up. I mean, the House bill did not, but we have initiated additional funding in order to try to deal with some of the nuclear issues, and we're open to sitting down with John and with others in order to move this process forward.
You know, there will be a committee process. Subsequent to that, we will meld the six different committee interests into one bill, with a leader, with Harry Reid's leadership, and that is the bill that will come to the floor. And then there's plenty of time on the floor for the White House and Senator McCain and all of us to be involved in the negotiation that tries to come up with a bill.
That sounds like the health bill, doesn’t it? So much focus was on the Finance Committee that a lot of commentators forgot that there were other versions of the bill to be merged into a final package. That’s what will happen here, too, so if somewhere along the way, you get disturbed by this provision getting in, that provision pushed out – just wait. Something reasonable might well result from the full process. (We readily admit that the legislative process can break an advocate’s heart, but one might as well wait so as not to keep reassembling the ventricles before the final outcome is known.)
And even better, the architect of this tree recognizes the value of the nuclear ornament.
The Post offers a transcript and the video of the interview. It’d be great if Sen. Boxer had a turn.
We’ll move on to some other subjects next week, but we wanted to stay with this until we fully understood how the bill was going to be assembled and what nuclear energy’s role in it might be. Well, now we know – Kerry goes a long way here explaining the idea behind the legislation. It’s a different approach from the House – where the details were complete in the original bill, then tweaked – but this approach, a kind of tabula rasa, will certainly lead to some interesting hearings. The outcome? We’ll see.
Sen. John Kerry