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Enviros Trying to Avoid Health Care Fiasco

Environmental groups backing the climate chnage bill are working hard to avoid the same fate the health care bill is facing.

From the Politico

The cap-and-trade movement, spooked by the pounding health care reform took over the August break, is scrambling to persuade nervous Democrats they won't suffer politically for taking another tough vote this year.

 

"When you get your butt kicked, like we did [after the House energy vote], it focuses the mind," said Steve Cochran, director of the Environmental Defense Fund's National Climate Campaign. "We found out that this is not something to hide from but something to lean on - even in places where coal is king and Blue Dogs were perceived to be running for cover."

Climate bill supporters say they have spent the summer building precisely the kind of grass-roots network that health care didn't have, with grass-roots operations in more than 20 states.

A "climate war room" - funded by more than 60 labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups - has been set up to coordinate ad dollars and communications.

The groups are enlisting military veterans and point to polling showing a majority of Americans support changes to U.S. energy policy being developed by Congress and the administration.

Despite the push, White House advisers say privately that they are very reluctant to have lawmakers take another tough vote after health care this fall.

In June, the House narrowly passed a major climate bill that critics attack as a massive tax increase on the middle class. A Senate vote could come late this fall, or in the first few months of 2010.

A senior congressional Democrat said a Senate vote is more likely in the first quarter of next year. "We can't make people walk the plank again this fall," the Democrat said. "I think it would be detrimental to climate change to jam it through."

Environmental groups such as the one founded by former Vice President Al Gore know that delay can mean doom in Washington, and that it might be easier to jam cap-and-trade legislation through this fall than to give critics the winter to ridicule it in ads and - perhaps worse - in rowdy town hall meetings.

With this in mind, green groups are briefing congressional leaders and vulnerable lawmakers on a new poll showing that three Democrats in very tough districts did not suffer a backlash for voting for an energy bill that includes a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon dioxide emissions. 

There is no guarantee that even with these preparations that a vote will go the way the green groups are hoping.  The fallout from the health care bill could seriously damage any  major legislation the Democrats try to squeeze through before the 2010 elections and they are likely to be very jittery until they know that they have the support of the voters.

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