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Senate GOP embrace Inhofes boycott of Clean Energy Jobs Act in effort to thwart Copenhagen deal; Boxer responds “We’re going to be very patient. We’re going to wait for them to come. We’re going to sit there every day and ask them to please come back to the table.”

By Joe Romm on November 3, 2009 at 9:11 am

"Senate GOP embrace Inhofes boycott of Clean Energy Jobs Act in effort to thwart Copenhagen deal; Boxer responds “We’re going to be very patient. We’re going to wait for them to come. We’re going to sit there every day and ask them to please come back to the table.”"

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InhofeThe GOP’s approach to climate and clean energy policy has remained the same for decades — obstruction and obfuscation (see “Senate GOP propose 25% ‘Do-Nothing’ energy tax on Americans“).  Now, led by James “the last flat-earther” Inhofe, they are trying to stall climate legislation as long as possible, on the flimsiest of excuses, presumably because they want to make sure that there is no Senate vote on the bill before Copenhagen.

The excuse this time is that EPA supposedly hasn’t issued a full analysis of the bill — even though EPA has issued an analysis of the bill (see “EPA releases economic analysis finding cost to U.S. households of under $10 a month, bill consistent with global effort to stabilize at 2°C warming“) pointing out that it has only moderate differences from the heavily-analyzed House bill (Waxman-Markey), none of which would significantly affect the economic conclusions.

The best evidence this excuse is just a pretense is that the GOP never accepted the conclusions of the EPA’s detailed analysis of the House bill (see “New EPA analysis of Waxman-Markey: Consumer electric bills 7% lower in 2020 thanks to efficiency“).

TP reports on the GOP delaying tactics:

Senate Republicans have endorsed Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) plan to boycott the legislative markup of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733), scheduled to begin tomorrow. Inhofe’s GOP compatriots on the environment committee hope to block action by refusing to participate in the markup on the pretext that the Enviromental Protection Agency’s economic analysis of the bill is not “complete.” In a letter sent to committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), ranking member Inhofe and his counterparts on five other committees said any attempt to begin the markup before acceding to his demands “would severely damage” its chances for passage:

“We understand that there may be an attempt to report S. 1733 from the Committee not only without a satisfactory analysis, but also without sufficient opportunity to address the bipartisan concerns raised over the course of legislative hearings on the measure. As we are sure you will understand, from our viewpoint, such an approach would severely damage, rather than help, the chances of enacting changes to our nation’s climate and energy policies

The signatories are the top Republicans on the six Senate committees that will consider this legislation “” environment, energy, agriculture, commerce, foreign relations, and finance. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX, ), like Inhofe, flatly deny the reality of climate change. However, several of the signatories have claimed concern about the threat of global warming “” Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Dick Lugar (R-IN), who in 2006 warned of the “significant long-term risks to the economy and the environment of the United States from the temperature increases and climatic disruptions that are projected to result from increased greenhouse gas concentrations.” Evidently their commitment to partisan obstruction is greater than their concern for the future of the nation.

Download the letter here.

The Sierra Club has posted the “Top Ten Excuses for not showing up for work on the Clean Energy Jobs bill.”
Boxer has extended the amendment deadline to Tuesday night, according to a Washington Times newsletter, and will hold off on the markup of the legislation, saying:

We’re going to be very patient. We’re going to wait for them to come. We’re going to sit there every day and ask them to please come back to the table. We’re not going to rush this through because we don’t think that would be the right thing to do.

E&E News (subs. req’d) reports this morning that Boxer is going the extra mile to accommodate the GOP obstructionist delayers:

Hoping to avert a partisan meltdown, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) yesterday offered an olive branch to Republicans who are planning to boycott today’s markup of a sweeping global warming bill.

Boxer still plans to begin the markup at 9 a.m. with opening statements. But she agreed to suspend the markup at 2 p.m. for an open-door meeting with U.S. EPA officials to answer committee members’ questions about the economic modeling of the legislation, she noted in a letter late yesterday.

EPW Republicans, who ignored yesterday deadline for filing amendments, also now have until 5 p.m. today to submit any suggested changes to the bill.

“We think this is going the extra mile for our friends on the other side, and we really hope they’ll return to the table,” Boxer told reporters. “They have every reason to do that.”

Boxer added that she still retained the right to advance the 959-page bill without Republicans, though she would not say how long she would wait before ending the markup. “I never put a finishing date on any markup,” Boxer said. “I never have.”

She added, “I will tell you this, we’re going to be very, very patient.”

But the GOP delayers don’t want answers to questions — they want delay:

Committee Republicans huddled last night to discuss Boxer’s offer on the question-and-answer session with EPA. Matthew Dempsey, the panel’s GOP spokesman, said he expected Republicans to respond shortly before the start of today’s markup.

Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) first made the information request to EPA in July on the economic implications on the climate bill, placing a “hold” on Robert Perciasepe’s confirmation to be EPA deputy administrator until he got answers. Voinovich declined to say whether he would attend the question-and-answer session, which he had heard about only moments earlier when Boxer approached him on the Senate floor.

But Voinovich did say he had no plans to back down on the boycott until he gets a more complete assessment of the climate bill from EPA.

“I think we’ve made it pretty clear that we want a complete analysis of the bill,” he said. “It’s been made clear to her that’s what we want. I think it’s a sensible approach because of the fact this is probably the most important piece of legislation this committee has undertaken since the Clean Air Act itself, maybe even more important.”

Again, from an economic perspective, the bill isn’t much different from the House bill, which has been analyzed to death, not just by EPA, but CBO and EIA:

And as Boxer herself wrote yesterday:

I want to make sure you are aware that EPA has confirmed that the extensive analysis and supporting materials provided to the Committee are totally sufficient and appropriate for our legislative process. In fact, EPA reports that the analysis provided on the Kerry-Boxer bill and Chairman’s Mark exceeds the analysis typically conducted prior to a markup. EPA has also indicated that this economic analysis reflects hundreds of thousands of pages of backup documentation. It is far more analysis than the 10,000 pages of documentation on the Clear Skies bill that this Committee received in a prior Congress before markup of that legislation.

Even so, one key swing GOP Senator is siding with this delay:

Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) later said that his signature should be seen as a warning signal to Democrats should they expect to get his help in winning over other GOP moderates.

“It would not be constructive as far as progress on the bill is concerned,” Lugar said. “I suspect that there’d be no particular reason for many members to support it.”

My recommendation is to give in to GOP delaying tactics for now, while continuing to point out how absurd they are.

I see no upside in offending Senate moderates, since this bill will have to be bipartisan to succeed, and we need time over the next couple of weeks for Graham and Kerry and the White House “to discuss a possible compromise.”

Boxer should have the EPA do a “complete analysis” before the mark up — and then watch as the GOP hypocritically denounce the conclusions of it anyway.

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16 Responses to Senate GOP embrace Inhofes boycott of Clean Energy Jobs Act in effort to thwart Copenhagen deal; Boxer responds “We’re going to be very patient. We’re going to wait for them to come. We’re going to sit there every day and ask them to please come back to the table.”

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    Boycotts

    It is preferable to address things (e.g., problems such as the blockages being discussed here) with scientific understanding and reason, and excellent ethical thinking, and discussion, over tea and crumpets of course.

    But when some folks are ignoring science and these other elements, and they are “boycotting” productive efforts to face such things as climate change, and indeed trying to confuse the public on such important matters, then it sometimes becomes necessary and wise to stop supporting the companies involved. Period.

    All things considered, in my view, we should be boycotting ExxonMobil by now — and probably should have started two years ago! — as well as a few other companies and their products.

    That’s my view, and I’m sticking with it.

    Really, people, some of the companies are doing “whatever” in the SOLE search for profit growth and the continuation of “whatever they do best”, even if that “whatever” is very harmful, dangerous, and dumb.

    And, the only way a company like ExxonMobil is likely to pay much attention, I believe, is if Big Money is at stake. That means you, and us.

    In my view, it should be time to boycott ExxonMobil. I’ve seen enough.

    To be clear, I’ve worked in the oil industry, for Chevron, long ago. I was a chemical engineer, from Berkeley. At the time, I had offers from Exxon and Shell, as well as from Chevron. Since then, I’ve been involved with a good number of companies, I was a McKinsey consultant, I’ve been an exec at Disney, and etc. I was a Baker Scholar at Harvard B-School. I only mention these things to let you know that I’m not kidding and that I have at least some credibility when I say that I genuinely don’t think things are going to change UNLESS public action causes the pocketbooks of ExxonMobil and etc. to start declining, in substantial ways.

    I’m “sorry” to say it, but it seems like time.

    Please, let me know what you think, and “think twice” next time before you consider stopping into an ExxonMobil station to buy gas. Get it from someone else, for now, and that will begin to send a necessary signal, and then (of course) people can shift to vehicles that are more fuel efficient and ultimately to electric vehicles. But for now, at least, it’s time to send a message to Mr. Tillerson, to ExxonMobil, and to those who are blocking climate legislation.

    Period. No joke. How many agree?

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  2. Leif says:

    I have boycotted EXXON since the BIG oil spill in Alaska. That said it surely is warranted now. My first thought was an E-Mail bombing to Inhofe. Something like photos of GW effects around the world but that would appear to be fruitless. Facts do not affect this obstructionist. Perhaps the pro Senators could take this time to educate the public with the relevant information each and every day in the print news, radio & TV media, every moment of the day. Perhaps the NY Times might even wake up and give a headline. Certainly I feel it is time for a major policy speech by Obama. Something to break the log jam.
    We have come too far to give up now!

  3. Leif says:

    I remember in the far distant past that we attempted to levitate the Pentagon. Perhaps a bit of voodoo on Inhofe or perhaps we could levitate him if that thought is too violent. Obviously fishing here…

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    Three (or more)

    Thanks Leif. Here’s a thought, because my abilities to levitate even as much as a small spoon seem not to be working today:

    How ’bout if each person talks to three other folks (friends, relatives, e-mail affairs, etc.), at least, about ExxonMobil and the wisdom of boycotting them.

    I know it’s old-fashioned and low-tech, but it’s very human.

    Consider:

    Have fun doing something good: Exx Exxon! (figuratively speaking, of course)

    If each person talks to three others, and so forth, and etc. then the numbers can get big pretty quickly, if my number skills are right. Pretty soon, the number gets longer than a phone number, at least without the area code anyhow.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Boxer is a fighter, and I applaud her restraint here. It must be incredibly grating to throw bones to her Republican colleagues, but maybe you have to stroke their tender egos and small minds in order to get things done.

  6. Raleigh Latham says:

    In Senator Inhofe, I see the face of pure evil, ignorance, and cruelty. He stands in direct opposition to the progression of human civilization, and does his best to make sure we stay on the path toward destruction. Even Osama Bin Laden doesn’t hold as much contempt and hatred for Western Civilization as Inhofe does. If he blocks Climate Legislation, it will be his name we remember for destroying the planet. History will never forget James Inhofe; he will forever be enshrined as a man that made sure the United States stayed on the path toward destruction.

  7. toadman says:

    Stop waiting for them to come back. They never will. Let’s just move ahead without these obstructionist morons and marginalize them even more.

  8. Cynthia says:

    I boycotted Exxonmobile after they screwed me out of the gasoline I paid for a couple years ago; was my fault, I shouldn’t have gone there in the first place– I knew their dispicable record as to climate change science.

  9. Cynthia says:

    After 8 years of Bush-Cheney Greed Machine, it seems the world is making a desparate attempt to save itself– an upward swing toward greater humanitarian efforts. Unfortunately, there are still alot of republicans in congress, governor of Alaska, etc., who are still clinging to the status quo (lucrative benefits to themselves and their friends, to the detriment of the rest of the world.) Wish we could just put them all in prison!!

  10. Mary says:

    I am ashamed of my country’s blocking and hindering of all environmental issues. Climate change is a real threat to us all, including animals, plants, habitats and much more. Though I am a citizen and vote in the USA, I live and work at present in the south Pacific islands. Our legislators need to get themselves out into the real world sometimes and see and LIVE what is really happening. Our little flat islands are and will slowly disappear under the ocean – and what of the inhabitants?
    Such obstructionist attitudes and policies only breed disgust and dislike from other countries – even our “friends’.

  11. Leland Palmer says:

    Let’s do a thought experiment.

    Let’s try to understand what the Republicans are after with their boycott.

    By delaying U.S. Senate action until after Copenhagen, they apparently want to avoid any substantial agreement in Copenhagen, so that they can continue to argue that U.S. action by itself will be ineffective and costly.

    Coming from the party of Newt Gingrich, who criticized Harry Reid for not being a good enough liar, it makes some sense, perhaps. This is a negotiating position, and it’s all about trying to protect the profitability of U.S. fossil fuel industries, I guess.

    Or maybe there is more to this tactic.

    Scott Borgerson, of the Council on Foreign Relations, is a David Rockefeller visiting fellow at the CFR think tank, meaning he’s on the payroll. The Council on Foreign Relations, for decades, has been dominated by the Rockefellers, descendants of the John D. Rockefeller Standard Oil Monopoly. David Rockefeller, for example, was the Chairman of the CFR for decades. Borgerson’s output, in the New York Times for example and in testimony before both the House and the Senate, suggests that the CFR (the foreign policy voice of Big Oil, IMO) wants the Arctic to melt in the summer, so that they can prospect for oil under the Arctic ice. They also apparently want the U.S. to build a fleet of nuclear icebreaker ships, apparently to break the ice and clear a navigable path through the pack ice for oil tankers carrying Arctic crude:

    http://www.cfr.org/publication/15638/arctic_meltdown.html?breadcrumb=%2Fbios%2F13363%2F

    (CFR website, registration required, go to page 2)

    Ironically, the great melt is likely to yield more of the very commodities that precipitated it: fossil fuels. As oil prices exceed $100 a barrel, geologists are scrambling to determine exactly how much oil and gas lies beneath the melting icecap. More is known about the surface of Mars than about the Arctic Ocean’s deep, but early returns indicate that the Arctic could hold the last remaining undiscovered hydrocarbon resources on earth. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Norwegian company StatoilHydro estimate that the Arctic holds as much as one-quarter of the world’s remaining undiscovered oil and gas deposits. Some Arctic wildcatters believe this estimate could increase substantially as more is learned about the region’s geology. The Arctic Ocean’s long, outstretched continental shelf is another indication of the potential for commercially accessible offshore oil and gas resources.

    The climate is a complex chaotic system, which appears to be approaching or that has reached a bifurcation point. It may be that our financial elites want to delay effective action long enough for the climate to irreversibly pass this bifurcation point.

    It may be that the temptation of this ten trillion dollars or so in Arctic oil and additional trillions of dollars worth of methane from methane hydrates is too much for our financial elites, and they are trying to force the earth’s climate into a state in which the Arctic is ice free in the summer, in order to go after those Arctic resources.

    This is a huge risk, and one that I believe could well be catastrophic for future generations.

    I also don’t recall voting for this policy.

    I don’t think we can achieve this seasonally ice free Arctic on any human time scale without setting off a methane catastrophe.

  12. Philip H. says:

    Joe,
    It appears the Democrats learned nothing from their attempts to placate Republicans in the Senate over the healthcare reform bill in the Senate Finance Committee. If Republicnas (who generally hate the EPA) are going to boycott the legislative process until the EPA gives them a “more thorough” analysis, then Senator Boxer needs to hold a markup, pass the bill and move on. She’s not going to get them to the table no matter how long she waits or what she offers. This is nothing other then obstructionist grandstanding, and it does nothing for the bill, nor the environment.

    Man, how I long for the days when Democrats had a pair, and used them!

    [JR: Gonna need some R's for the final bill, so I'm not sure this is the best path.]

  13. Philip H. says:

    Joe,

    What exactly do we need more R’s for? To allow Sen. Reid to stroke his own ego as a “bipartisan leader?” Or to keep him from actually having to lead? Come one man, either all 60 Democrats line up and pass this one, or they don’t. The whole reason Americans sent them to the Hill in the majority in the first place is that we’re . . . upset . . . at the overwhelming alck of accomplishment that split part rule gave us. If Blue Dogs want to filibuster the climate bill because they think it helps them politically, then we should politely inviet them to switch Parties and be don ewith it.

    Sorry sir, but to pander to a politicl party that has nearly run our nation into the ground just to keep from having to deal with the elephants (pun very intended) in your own house is banal and immature.

  14. The self interest of the Republicans in Congress is so sad and potentially dangerous. Their inability to grasp the seriousness of global warming, their willingness to delay global action show a destructive mentality beyond comprehension.
    Conservatism is often based on fear, staying with the past, not being open to reality. The Republicans leadership suffers from all of these.
    Do not expect a change of heart. Few Republican leaders are capable of that. If they will be open to reality, what will be left to them to say or do?

  15. Sasparilla says:

    What an awful situation – these bozos are going to prevent us from going to Copenhagen with anything concrete in hand to work with – we get to be the reason nothing is done, again. They win, again, of course our President enabled this by not getting the Senate to get this item out of the way earlier in the year.

    The suggestion about Exxon/Mobile is a good one, I stopped using them last year and every person who stops flushing their disposable income down at Exxon/Mobile (and does it at another vendor) is step towards forcing them to change their behavior (eventually).

  16. Vlado says:

    Climate bill — what a megalomanic pretension! would harm the United States and compel it to buy carbon credits forever from nonproductive countries who will have no initiative to develop.