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Previewing The Senate Climate Debate

For those wondering when the Senate's going to take up climate-change legislation, the answer's... very soon. 1Sky's Jason Kowalski has an invaluable preview of the Senate schedule, and notes that Barbara Boxer's Environment and Public Works Committee should have a draft climate bill ready by July 15 or so, with a full markup happening in or around July 27.

Boxer has said she's going to base her legislation on the House climate bill, although she may try to strengthen the short-term 2020 targets (she's also hinted that she may crack down on carbon offsets, which would be a terrific idea). Given that Boxer's EPW is somewhat more liberal that Waxman's energy committee in the House, it's possible that a more ambitious bill could emerge from this process.

After that, however, it has to go through five other, more conservative Senate committees—including Agriculture. Remember all the fuss in the House about how Collin Peterson weakened the climate bill by adding lots of handouts for farm interests? Well, over in the Senate, Tom Harkin (D-IA) said today that he didn't think Peterson went far enough, and he's going to try to get even more goodies for farmers, according to Congress Daily:

In a speech to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Harkin praised Peterson's efforts to win over farm-state members during negotiations on the House energy bill. But Peterson "could only do so much," Harkin said, adding he can add "more allocations and allowances" because every senator has farm and rural constituents.

That doesn't sound promising. In any case, Reid has said he wants all the committees to finish up a bill by mid-September.

--Bradford Plumer