Opinion

Sheldon Whitehouse: '2015 would be a very good year' for climate change legislation

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,John Kerry,Climate Change,Sheldon Whitehouse

With the French foreign minister warning that the earth is 500 days away from "climate chaos," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said "2015 would be a very good year" for Congress to take up climate legislation.

"I think before there can be a legislative push there has to be a public push and that's what we're working on now," Whitehouse told the Washington Examiner before explaining the three things that have to happen to get a vote on climate legislation.

"[O]ne's already done, and that's the president's regulation of existing power from carbon plants, that's a big step," Whitehouse said. "The second is, I think a lot of candidates are going to be surprised by the climate issue in the upcoming elections, and I think that's going to force a reassessment of the wisdom of just chaining themselves to the polluters. And the third is that I think that more and more we're seeing the American corporate sector that is not polluters starting to step up a little bit more and be a little bit more responsible about pushing their voices into this conversation. I think you pile those three things together and you have a situation in which the denier castle, which is built on sand, falls down and at that point we can legislate I think very sensibly."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius offered his warning on Tuesday before a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.

"We have 500 days to avoid climate chaos," Fabius told reporters. "And I know that President Obama and John Kerry himself are committed on this subject and I'm sure that with them, with a lot of other friends, we shall be able to reach success on this very important matter."

Kerry tried to get a cap-and-trade bill through the Senate in 2010, but it failed to receive a vote as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tried to stave off a Republican wave election by sparing his colleagues from taking an unpopular vote.

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