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Supreme Court Departure Likely to Impact Climate Change Legislation in 2010

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Last Friday’s announced retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens may have the unintended consequence of also retiring fleeting hopes for the passage of a comprehensive climate change and energy bill during this session of Congress.

It all comes down to the legislative schedule. When one lines up financial reform, the entire slate of appropriations bills, confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice, possible focus on immigration reform and climate change, it’s hard to see a path forward on the calendar.

The Senate returned today from their two-week spring recess facing a legislative agenda overloaded with must-do business; and, while many would argue that climate should be on that list, there are undoubtedly a few senators in tight re-election races who might just be happy enough to let climate legislation slide into next year.

It’s not a matter of should we or shouldn’t we; it’s a matter of can we or can’t we get it done before August recess, after which lawmakers will have to return to take up appropriations bills. Fortunately, there are still a number of legislative opportunities through which to positively impact the energy debate. It’s just that they aren’t going to be so obviously attached to this one big bill.

That said, considerable uncertainty exists within the energy and financial community, and it’s affecting investment decisions for the commercial deployment of a range of new technologies. Absent movement on either climate legislation or a smaller energy-only bill, this uncertainty will likely continue.

Story: The Hill, Kerry, Graham differ on Supreme Court debate’s effect on possible climate bill, by Ben Geman

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