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Waxman whacks Gingrich upside the head — with the help of some quotes from Climate Progress

By Joe Romm  

"Waxman whacks Gingrich upside the head — with the help of some quotes from Climate Progress"

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Newt Gingrich is the most unprincipled leader of the conservative movement stagnation. Not because his testimony against the Waxman-Markey bill was filled with some of the biggest lies ever told in Congress, such as “it should be no surprise that I care deeply about and am committed to the protection of our environment” (see “Memo to media: Eco-fraud Gingrich has always opposed clean energy, climate action“).

What else would you expect from a man who has spent much of this decade writing fictional alternative histories of World War II and the Civil War? Gingrich is, quite literally, a professional history rewriter.

Newton Leroy Gingrich is not unprincipled because he’s a liar. He’s unprincipled because he has no principles. Just two years ago, he thought the road to resuscitating his disgraced political career was to pretend to care about climate. As Media Matters (and Rep. Jay Inslee) noted, Gingrich uttered these remarkable words in a 2007 PBS interview:

I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support….

The caps, with a trading system, on sulfur has worked brilliantly because it has brought free-market attitudes, entrepreneurship and technology and made it very profitable to have less sulfur. So people said, “Wow, it’s worth my time and effort.”

Americans get incentives. Americans like winning…. What we ought to be doing is inventing a whole series of breakthrough mechanisms that create incentives for people to have a better environmental outcome in an economically positive way, to accelerate the transition to better and cleaner technologies.

But Friday he gave the lie to his own statements.

In testimony (here) before the body he once commanded, he savaged the very policies he had so recently embraced. He did so in a series of fear-mongering lies so egregious that House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman Whacksman dressed him down like a judge who was seen the same unrepentant criminal come before his court one too many times.

I am especially delighted that, as the video clip shows, Waxman used the arguments and the interview with Reilly that I wrote about in my Thursday night post: Exclusive: MIT Professor says GOP, Weekly Standard “misrepresentation” of his April 2007 study to project costs for Waxman-Markey is “inappropriate,” “silly” and “just wrong.”

He points out that Gingrich relies on figures from an MIT study that is

2 years old, used outdated data, examines a different piece of legislation…. Just yesterday, Dr. Reilly confirm that “the Republican approach to estimating the cost of cap-and-trade is just wrong.”

So if you want to read what they’re reading in the halls of Congress — well, you already are!

‹ NOAA stunner: “Methane levels rose in 2008 for the second consecutive year after a 10-year lull,” CO2 up 2.1 ppm to highest levels on record “despite economic slump”

Open thread for comments on the ’60 Minutes’ story: “The Dilemma Over Coal Generated Power.” ›

21 Responses to Waxman whacks Gingrich upside the head — with the help of some quotes from Climate Progress

  1. ecostew says:

    Thanks Joe – It’s time to take the gloves off!

  2. Gail says:

    Needs fixing:

    2 years old, used outdated data, examines a different piece of legislation…. Just yesterday, Dr. confirm that “the Republican approach to estimating the cost of cap-and-trade is just wrong.”

  3. Great words Joe. This is a very delicate time for blatant deniers and duplicitous self-promoters who toy with climate change for their own political careers or business interests. Newt and Exxon and others should be concerned that history not that easy to completely change.

    Today we see moral wrangling over who supported torture and when. It is easy to imagine a similar outrage over those who promoted the type of global torture of self inflicted climate suffering. We are entering a time when all humans will be seriously hurt by climate destabilization to some degree. The denialists and carbon promoters are risking their own moral future.

    Just look to the near future when climate victims everywhere will be asking how we got trapped by a problem of our own making. Where were the warnings? And who was trying to silence the scientific sentries? History will not erase the names of Morano, Inhofe and Gingrich. Right now we can clearly identify those who promoted, enhanced and hastened destabilization – no matter what their motives. This is not silent skepticism or quiet disbelief, this is active political action that harms our future. In the future history, which even Newt cannot control, truth must precede reconciliation. For now, we may tolerate such incorrect, anti-scientific and repugnant speech. But we do not have to forget.

  4. Leland Palmer says:

    Gingrich is bought and paid for, I think. He has spent the last few years working for the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford.

    Some quotes from mediatransparency:

    “Currently (2005) Newt Gingrich is simultaneously a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Fellow at the Hoover Institution.”

    So, how much money do the far right conservative foundations such as the Scaife and Bradley foundations put into the AEI and the Hoover Institution?

    AEI:

    Total Grants to American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
    Total $ Granted: $ 44,636,101

    Hoover Institution:

    Total Grants to Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
    Total $ Granted: $ 23,955,661

    The far right has a network of such institutions, which act as a retirement program for far right politicians, and for others who can keep churning out the propaganda.

    As a fellow of both institutions, Gingrich no doubt drew heavy salaries, and may still do so, simultaneous with his recent reincarnation as an “environmentalist”.

    It’s hard to find out the extent of funding for the American Enterprise Institute from ExxonMobil. But, from sourcewatch:

    In February 2007, The Guardian (UK) reported that AEI was offering scientists and economists $10,000 each, “to undermine a major climate change report” from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). AEI asked for “articles that emphasise the shortcomings” of the IPCC report, which “is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science.” AEI visiting scholar Kenneth Green made the $10,000 offer “to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere,” in a letter describing the IPCC as “resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent.” [7]

    The Guardian reported further that AEI “has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil, and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI’s board of trustees,” added The Guardian. [8]

    Also from SourceWatch:

    The Hoover Institution receives much of its funding from private charitable foundations, including many attached to large corporations. A partial list of its recent donors includes:

    * Archer Daniels Midland Foundation
    * ARCO Foundation
    * Boeing-McDonnell Foundation
    * Chrysler Corporation Fund
    * Dean Witter Foundation
    * Exxon Educational Foundation [6]
    * Ford Motor Company Fund
    * General Motors Foundation
    * J.P. Morgan Charitable Trust
    * Merrill Lynch & Company Foundation
    * Procter & Gamble Fund
    * Rockwell International Corporation Trust
    * Transamerica Foundation

    So it looks like maybe he has spent the last decade sucking off the corporate tit, and has since branched out into astroturf, and gone into business for himself, while continuing to pull down Hoover Institution and AEI money.

    Some questions he could answer:

    How much money has he received from the Hoover Institute?

    How much money has he received from the American Enterprise Institute?

    Is he still receiving money from these institutions?

    His current astroturf activities also should be looked into thoroughly, IMO.

  5. Foxwood says:

    Green is the new Red. Green house gas is a pure methane myth. This would not be the first time noxious gases have come from Washington.

  6. Harrier says:

    Foxwood- I personally like red. It’s my favorite color.

    But green is nice too.

  7. Gail says:

    The discussion should be about what it will cost us if we DON’T cease carbon emissions and mitigate global warming:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=civilization-food-shortages

  8. PurpleOzone says:

    Foxwood,
    Did you ever hear of Venus? It’s hotter than an oven because of Greenhouse gases. The same equations are used on Venus’s atmosphere as on our own.
    Think on that — science works throughout the solar system.

    We’re getting hotter. I hope a good bill comes out of Congress that will start us on solid solutions. (ethanol from corn was a stupid idea).

  9. Dean says:

    Conservatives used to be the champion of cap-n-trade systems, since it uses some form of the market as opposed to pure regulation. But after converting some environmentalists to favor it, they have turned against it. Since unity has become the big thing to Republicans now (hey, it worked for them in the 90′s – they got a Congressional majority), unity now requires opposing cap-n-trade because supporting it would mean undermining unity on their denialist climate message.

    Gingrich’s basic position is that it is going to be impossible to reduce fossil fuel use significantly, particularly in India and China, so the only hope regarding AGW is to figure out how to make the use of fossil fuel clean via various CCS strategies. That means we can keep on mining coal, we can drill in ANWR, etc.

    The thing folks who support this ignore is that even if CCS technology can be developed for practical use, it ain’t cheap and could potentially drive energy prices as high or higher than c-n-t or carbon taxes, but without the ability to compensate people who would pay the extra cost (who of course they don’t really care about).

  10. Bullwinkle says:

    A better headline?:

    Waxman plays ‘Whack a Newt’!

  11. Will Greene says:

    Newt’s argument was basically a standard denier line, E. Antarctica is cooling, ice is growing, sea level rising only a few inches (misquoting the 4th assessment), ect. but one point was interesting to me. He said concerning acidity of the oceans: “coral was very abundant in earlier era’s when the earth’s temp. was as much as 10-15 degrees warmer and atmospheric CO2 was 2-7 times higher.” Joe or anyone, what is your response to this?

    My inclination is, the coral organisms in earlier eras were adapted to higher acidity but today’s coral and other organisms are not adapted to high acidity and will struggle to survive. Let me know if I’m off base.

  12. darth says:

    too bad you need to pay to read the article at ecostew’s link. I saw Newt speak and had the same question as Will Greene above.

    Newt also spoke about the “bakken formation”. Isn’t that the famed ‘oil shale’ which was much discussed in the 70′s? Worse than the canadian tar sands is what i’ve heard about it.

    [JR: It's natural gas. Obama campaigned on developing it.]

  13. Will Greene says:

    What I got out of ecostew’s link is we really don’t know that much about how acidity is going to affect corals. It doesn’t address Newt’s fair point.

  14. David B. Benson says:

    Will Greene — You are on-base. Oceran acidification is to be taken as a most serious risk.

  15. Steve Bloom says:

    Will, the Caldeira and Wickett paper (public copy here) is six years old, and most of the research on the effects of acidification has been conducted subsequently. See here and here for the up-to-date science.

    That said, the paper remains useful for its neat summary of how the chemistry works:

    “When a CO2 change occurs over a short time interval (that is, less than about 10^4 yr), ocean pH is relatively sensitive to added CO2. However, when a CO2 change occurs over a long time interval (longer than about 10^5 yr), ocean chemistry is buffered by interactions with carbonate minerals, thereby reducing sensitivity to pH changes.

    “Based on the record of atmospheric CO2 levels over the past 300 Myr and our geochemical model, there is no evidence that ocean pH was more than 0.6 units lower than today. Our general circulation model results indicate that continued release of fossil-fuel CO2 into the atmosphere could lead to a pH reduction of 0.7 units. We conclude that unabated CO2 emissions over the coming centuries may produce changes in ocean pH that are greater than any experienced in the past 300 Myr, with the possible exception of those resulting from rare, catastrophic events in Earth’s history.”

    (See this paper for a more detailed discussion of the chemistry.)

    Bear in mind that pH is a measure of the balance of negative and positive ions and *not* the quantity of ions, which is why it can and has stayed close to (slightly positive) present levels regardless of atmospheric CO2 levels (so long as the latter hasn’t changed too quickly). But of course it is changing much too quickly.

    As the paper says, other than a few brief catastrophic events (when marine life was hammered by pulses of CO2 and CO2-generating methane), variation in CO2 levels has had little connection to pH. Doubtless Newt would be interested to know that one of those catastrophic events (the end-Permian) was bad enough to wipe out the then-existing corals, although after ten million years or so the ones we have now evolved to take their place.

    So Newt is comprehensively wrong on this as well.

  16. Steve Bloom says:

    I have a multi-link post in moderation, Joe. Thanks.

  17. Rick Covert says:

    So Newt was for Cap and Trade before he was against it. Nice!

  18. Ian Forrester says:

    Darth and Joe, the Bakken formation is an oil play in North Dakota and Saskatchewan. The confusion arises because the oil reservoir is shale rather than the more normal sandstone or limestone reservoirs. It is different from “Oil Shale” in that it is oil in the shale rather than kerogen which is present in “Oil shale” and must be converted thermo-chemically into oil.

    There is a problem in recovering oil from shale reservoirs since even though the oil is present in large quantities the permeability of the reservoir makes it very difficult to extract.

    Recent advances in horizontal drilling and “fracing” are allowing more of this oil to be produced.

  19. Will Greene says:

    Thank you Steve Bloom. I will get to reading all those links this week. Ocean acidification and PH levels is like a foreign language to me at this point. Much to learn!

  20. MarkB says:

    Gingrich’s massive flip flop isn’t surprising. Others like McCain have been showing similar tendencies. It seems that some of these Republicans are changing their position because:

    1. They are no longer in power.

    2. They want to get back in power.

    3. They feel this is an issue they can gain politically with by scaring the American public. They desperately want to get a political victory against Obama, which is running a very effective administration so far, and they see this as a way to do it.