Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) — whose never-say-die attitude fueled months of long-shot climate talks — admitted defeat Tuesday.
“Anything that’s comprehensive or with a cap … will not pass right now,” he told reporters. In fact, he said, even something as limited as a renewable electricity production mandate faces very long odds of getting through this year.
The future of climate change and energy policy, he said, will depend on several factors, including the outcome of the coming midterms, in which Democrats are all but certain to lose seats.
“There are a lot of imponderables, none of which can be answered until after the November” election, he said.
The key, at least this year, will be how long any lame-duck session will last.
“There are certain things that can be done conceivably; it really depends on that window of opportunity,” he said of action during a post-election session.
That, he said, could include such energy items as a renewable electricity mandate, strategies to produce more natural gas and electric vehicles that were included in an aborted Senate oil spill and energy package this summer, as well as building efficiency mandates and incentives.
If Republicans win big in November, they may not want to work on much of anything in a lame-duck session. But if the election is more of a wash, both parties may be more inclined to be legislatively productive, Kerry reasoned.
Kerry seemed somewhat downbeat, though, on future prospects for major climate and energy policy. “This is a new Senate and a new age with a certain amount of politics governing a lot of what’s happening right now, so I can’t predict all that will take place except to say that nothing surprises me anymore,” Kerry said.
Regardless, he said he will continue to try to be a leader in the climate debate.
“It’s a passion of mine and I intend to continue to be involved, but we’ll have to see where we are with the Senate next year as to what’s possible,” he said. “There are a lot of other priorities, a lot of other things.”
He added, “But I intend to stay front and center on an issue that I’ve been in involved in for, what, 23, 24 years. Longer, actually. … But there’re a lot of people that need to be involved. I’m not the only person here that wants to get something done. We need to have a large coalition; that’s the only way we’re going to get it done.”