Salt Lake Tribune: Jim Matheson (D-UT) “picked political expediency over science” voting against climate bill and thus “failed Utah and the country”

When Waxman-Markey passed out of committee on Friday 33-25, only three Democrats voted no, along with every Republican but Bono Mack [see “House committee approves landmark (bipartisan!) clean energy and climate bill“].

One of those Democrats was Jim Matheson of Utah.  The state’s largest newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, wrote a strong editorial Sunday criticizing that decision, “Vital energy bill deserves support“:

Utah Rep. Jim Matheson was in a position he never wanted to be: He held a pivotal vote on the House Energy and Commerce Committee as it debated, and passed, a bill to promote clean energy and limit emissions of greenhouse gases. He had to step forward and be counted, do more than give lip service to concerns over global warming and a desire to encourage clean-energy technology and conservation.

But Matheson, with a foot in each camp as always, squandered this opportunity to stand up on these all-important issues and join Congress members seeking solutions. Along with only two other Democrats, he voted no.

Since Republicans on the committee were aligned against the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (only one voted for it), and all the more traditional Democrats supported it, that supposedly left political hybrids like Matheson holding the aces. And Matheson cast his with the GOP.

The act passed 33-25, so this vital bill will move forward to other committees and to the full House without Matheson’s support. That’s good for the country and, ironically, good for Matheson politically. But disappointing for Utah.

Matheson represents a district with heavily Republican pockets that depend on coal mining and coal-fired power plants where many believe global warming is either a hoax or overblown. By contrast, he claims to embrace climate science and says our dependence on oil must end.

Thursday he faced a day of reckoning. And he picked political expediency over science.

This legislation represents a policy shift from fossil fuel development to renewable energy. Utahns who care about air quality, the looming crisis of global warming, energy independence and Utah’s long-term economic health would like to know we have one congressman who shares these concerns. But Matheson chose instead to place coal, oil and gas interests ahead of his constituents’ and fear of change ahead of faith in American ingenuity.

Matheson says the target for reducing emissions (a 17 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2020) is too “aggressive” and new technology may not be developed in time. We disagree. On the contrary, the target, a result of a committee compromise, may not be aggressive enough to mitigate global warming. We agree with him that electrical transmission systems must be updated and corn-based ethanol should be dumped. But these are not reasons enough to vote against the bill.

In the end, Matheson, yet again hedging his bets, failed Utah and the country.

Cheers to the Tribune, Jeers to Matheson.

6 Responses to Salt Lake Tribune: Jim Matheson (D-UT) “picked political expediency over science” voting against climate bill and thus “failed Utah and the country”

  1. K L Reddington says:

    In the last 10 years the expenditure of energy in a home has gone from 11% of disposible income to 20%. Residential users are constitutents. Real economists know that a 100 dollar increase in gasolene per month can make some actuall get behind in their mortgages.
    I am for new types of energy and getting costs down. It is a time to help people increase chemical free food in their diets. The corn raised under contract for ethanol is overloaded with pesticides and herbicides and not really edible for humans or livestock. Long term it hurts the soil.

  2. Brett Jason says:

    If you think Congress People voting primarily on the basis of political expediency is bad now, wait until this time next year, when the 2010 election is looming on the horizon. Any important votes and laws need to be passed and signed THIS year, before the summer recess. Once Congress moves into calendar year 2010, will be too late. The way the American electoral system works, a new President and Congress only get one year — the first — to really get their platform enacted. It’s now or never.

    [JR: I don’t agree. The vote is always hard — but it’s easier when the economy is recovering. Also, I’m assuming Obama will start do some serious messaging in the fall. And hopefully there will be a China deal of some sort. Also, the public supports action.]

  3. Kota says:

    “Matheson says the target for reducing emissions (a 17 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2020) is too “aggressive” and new technology may not be developed in time.”

    In time for what? I didn’t realize anyone that voted yes on the bill or supports it would get taken out and shot if the US didn’t make a targeted percent. (a low woosie % at that)

  4. Sam says:

    I want to give some recognition to Zach Space, whose southeast Ohio district has many coal interests, but who voted in favor of the bill despite facing condemnation by those interests. Here is the first (polite) warning from the Ohio Coal Association:,837042.shtml
    It was a very tough vote for him, especially since his district historically votes Republican (Bob Ney’s old district) in addition to having coal interests. He may have a difficult fight in 2010.

  5. Tom says:

    Thank you Representative Matheson! I’m glad that my calls to your office were not ignored. I am everyday more convinced that global warming is a ruse used by opportunists like Al Gore and Goldman Sachs to pad their pockets at the expense of all Americans.

  6. Alan says:

    Jim Matheson did not fail Utah or the Country. He stood up to powerful opposition and voted according to The Constitution that he took an oath to support and in conformity with the desires of his constituents who voted him into the office. Thank you, representative Matheson.