The clean energy revolution will not be televised — except on C-SPAN now! — as big media beat it and even Farrah’s death gets bigger play

CREDIT: U.S. House of representatives is debating landmark climate and clean energy legislation now — starting with the debate on the rule which limits total debate on Waxman-Markey bill to 3 hours, which means we should get a final vote by the end of the day.

The Waxman-Markey bill would dramatically shift the direction of US energy policy and put the nation on a path to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, ultimately removing the overwhelming majority CO2 emissions from the nation’s economy by mid-century, while generating millions of clean energy jobs and restoring US leadership in the key industries of the future. the next of several hours, you can watch this debate on C-SPAN (with various interruptions).  But one can hardly find any discussion of this most consequential legislation in the status quo media.  Even before the death of two pop icons, the coverage was very sparse.

Reuters worries “Michael Jackson overshadows Farrah Fawcett on a sad day.”  That’s the extent of the media’s introspection on its priorities!

Consider the paper of record today, whose front page (here) pretty much tells the rest of the media what the big stories of the day are.  We’ve got Michael Jackson on the cover.  Even Farrah makes the bottom of the front page where the short version of key stories inside are listed.  But no mention at all of the historic debate.  Indeed, there is no news coverage of this at all in the NYT (or much of the major media).

Now the NYT does have an excellent editorial on the bill, which I will reprint below.  But even there, the front page merely mentions that Paul Krugman has an op-ed.  So you’ll have to watch C-SPAN — and the blogosphere — for the real news of the day.  Here is the editorial, “The House and Global Warming“:

American politicians, from both parties, insist that they want to combat global warming and reduce this country’s dependence on fossil fuels. Members of the House will soon have a chance to show they mean it. Voters should watch carefully to see what they do.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act would, for the first time, put a price on carbon emissions. The bill has shortcomings. But we believe that it is an important beginning to the urgent task of averting the worst damage from climate change. Approval would show that the United States is ready to lead and would pressure other countries to follow. Rejection could mean more wasted years and more damage to the planet.

The outcome depends on perhaps 30 Democrats who fear higher energy costs for businesses and consumers, and a dozen or so Republican moderates who also worry about costs and who have been pressed by their leadership not to give President Obama a victory.

We urge all to examine several recent studies showing the costs of the legislation to be minimal. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects average costs of $175 a year per American household by 2020 “” vastly lower than the $3,000-plus figure bandied about by Republican leaders. We also urge them to read the scientific analysis forecasting the catastrophic costs to the planet, this country’s security and its economy if global warming is left unchecked.

The centerpiece of the legislation is a provision that aims to cut America’s production of greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by midcentury “” the minimum reductions scientists say are necessary to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

Its mechanism for doing so is a cap-and-trade system that would place a steadily declining ceiling on emissions while allowing emitters to trade permits, or allowances, to give them flexibility in meeting their targets. The point is to raise the cost of older, dirtier fuels while steering investments to cleaner ones.

The two seasoned politicians behind this bill “” Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts “” have also insisted on provisions that would mandate more efficient buildings, require cleaner energy sources like wind power and provide subsidies for new technologies. They have tried hard to shield poor consumers from higher energy costs. The C.B.O. estimates that, with rebates, the bottom 20 percent would actually come out ahead.

They have bent over backwards “” too far backwards, according to some critics “” to ease the cost of compliance for polluters by giving them relatively inexpensive ways to satisfy their emissions quotas before they have to invest heavily in cleaner energy sources and new technologies.

The C.B.O. did not factor in the potential cost savings to consumers from other parts of the bill “” the energy efficiency provisions, for instance. Nor was it asked to quantify the costs of doing nothing.

But we know the answer to that. By any measure “” drought, famine, coastal devastation “” the costs of inaction, of clinging to a broken energy policy, will dwarf the costs of acting now. It is this truth that the House must keep firmly in mind as it votes.

I agree with the NYT:  “Voters should watch carefully to see what they do.”  You just want be able to do that watching with any help from the status-quo media.

16 Responses to The clean energy revolution will not be televised — except on C-SPAN now! — as big media beat it and even Farrah’s death gets bigger play

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t we tweet about this?!

  2. ken levenson says:

    Totally frustrating.
    Even Brian Lehrer is ignoring the subject today.
    (covering instead MJ and health care debate)

  3. Mark says:

    Is it really that surprising?

  4. john says:


    Interesting you should mention Krugman’s oped … the point he was making about health care and change in general is the one many of us have been concerned about with ACES –as Krugman says, “Yes, the perfect is the enemy of the good; but so is the not-good-enough-to-work. Health reform [or climate change] has to be done right.”

    [JR: Except Krugman supports ACES, John.]

    Hope it’s good enough, and we have no other port in which to dock, but it’s a marginal call as to whether ACES is good enough to do the job.

    In the end, it all depends upon whether the economy functions as a collection of rational agent and takes advantage of all the provisions which ACES has for making clean energy the best economic choice.

    A person could have lost a lot of money over the last five decades betting on humans to function as rational economic agents and act in their own self-interest … that’s why I value stringent caps without easy offsets and a preservation of CAA authorities to regulate Carbon.

  5. Chris Winter says:

    Bravo for The New York Times! Its editorial is truly excellent.

  6. Chris Winter says:

    John wrote (in part): “Hope it’s good enough, and we have no other port in which to dock, but it’s a marginal call as to whether ACES is good enough to do the job.”

    This is true. But as I understand the European version of cap-and-trade, it started off dysfunctional and then was repaired.

    “A person could have lost a lot of money over the last five decades betting on humans to function as rational economic agents and act in their own self-interest … that’s why I value stringent caps without easy offsets and a preservation of CAA authorities to regulate Carbon.”

    As Joe pointed out, the problem with administration edicts (regulations) is that they can be repealed by the next administration. In the case of CAA restrictions on CO2 emissions, I think it’s a safe bet that the next Republican administration would repeal them, or otherwise make them ineffective.

  7. Chris Winter says:

    For what it’s worth: on NPR at the hour, Waxman-Markey led Michael Jackson.

  8. paulm says:

    We should start using Internet Time or UTC for indicating times of events on the web. Much easier to figure out when to come online for the event.

  9. Whoah! Is there a silent revolution going on right now being driven by intelligent selfless activists, and scientists, who’s sole goal is is to save the human race from destroying itself, yet receives no mdeia coverage and is only up against the most powerful, widespread, evil, corrupt and in-humane empire ever to enslave the human race?????

    This is the stuff of Sci-Fi comic books! And truly, you are a Super-Heros.

  10. Gary says:

    The media coverage on climate change has been pretty bad. There’s a total lack of comparison on how Waxman-Markey is not tough by international standards (see EU) and how the Republican alternative to climate legislation mandates 100 new nuclear power plants; not exactly climate friendly nor feasible. Moreover, the EU recently just worked out a deal with China to help them finance a new CCS demonstration project. Our last delegation to China came back with promises to talk more.

    for more on this:

  11. ZS says:

    Since most people who have an inkling of an idea about the threats of climate change support Waxman-Markey, the impacts of this bill need to be presented in a way that appeals to people who could care less about the environment.

    The CBO projection of $175 per household per year by 2020 cannot be stressed enough. And since most people don’t automatically convert per household to per capita figures, why not do the work for them? Assuming 2.6 people per household (an estimate I found here), that’s $67 per person per year, or about $5 per month.

    $5 per month gets you improved public transportation, lower electricity bills, millions of net jobs, a position as a global leader in the clean energy industry (which will clearly be one of the most important markets of this century), and protection from the volatility of fossil fuel prices.

  12. Yuebing says:

    ZS, We also have this recently updated analysis of HR2454 from ACEEE

    “Washington, D.C.—The federal energy efficiency provisions included in H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (aka Waxman-Markey), could save approximately $1,050 per household by 2020 and $4,400 per household by 2030, according to an updated analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Changes to ACEEE’s analysis come from an updated assessment of savings from a number of provisions, as well as changes to the bill made in a Rule’s Committee version of the bill released yesterday.”

  13. Yuebing, awesome video.

    I was just musing over this, wondering if maybe Jacksons death might not have some small push in the environmental movement. Probably most of the shock of that event, in seeing the biggest legend of our time pass on, is realizing our own humanity and the fragility of life. Which might magnify perception of the threat of ‘hell and high water’.

    If a man with more money than *insert your favorite imaginary super-hero in the sky’s name here* can die, then maybe no matter how much money you make raping planet it wont protect you.

    i dunno its pretty flimsy…

  14. john says:

    Good point Joe. I support it. too, but I believe to be vocal and explicit about its shortcommings, so when we go back in to get more, people (R’s) won’t say, “Oh, we did that already.”