Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is the third Democrat to co-sponsor a resolution to overturn the scientific finding that greenhouse gases endanger the American public. Yesterday, Nelson joined Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in supporting Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) lobbyist-designed resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 26, dubbed the “Dirty Air Act” by climate activists. Nelson justified his move to protect polluters from scientific reality by complaining that senators “don’t need EPA looking over Congress’ shoulder telling us we’re not moving fast enough”:
Controlling the levels of carbon emissions is the job of Congress. We don’t need EPA looking over Congress’ shoulder telling us we’re not moving fast enough. I am very concerned about the impact on Nebraska if EPA moves to regulate carbon emissions. Many Nebraska agricultural, industrial and energy-related businesses and organizations have warned about the costs they would have to shoulder from EPA regulations. Because EPA regulations would be a government-directed command-and-control regime, they would raise the price of energy in Nebraska, add greatly to administrative costs, and create new layers of bureaucracy. The burden would fall squarely on Nebraska families, farmers and businesses.
Scientists have been warning Washington D.C. about the dangers of greenhouse gases for over three decades now. Their work was suppressed by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for eight years. Now it appears Ben Nelson and his ilk are stepping in to take their place.
In reality, nearly all of the pollution sites that would fall under greenhouse gas rules are already subject to Clean Air Act permits for other pollutants, such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and soot. As the last 40 years of success for the Clean Air Act have proven, its enforcement cleans the air, improves the public’s health, and strengthens our economy by rewarding efficiency and innovation instead of pollution.
Meanwhile, the costs of climate damages rise for Nelson’s state, falling squarely on Nebraska families, farmers, and businesses. Nearly all of Nebraska has been declared a disaster area because of drought, severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding.
Nelson further claimed that he believes “carbon emissions should be reduced”:
Carbon emissions should be reduced, but not through costly and complicated EPA regulations or a disadvantageous cap and trade proposal in Congress. They should be reduced through a comprehensive energy bill that promotes efficiencies and renewable energy through innovation and new technology that will help our state’s economy as we clean up the air.
Nelson has never supported a bill or policy that would achieve those goals. He opposed Lieberman-Warner in 2008, voted against McCain-Lieberman in 2005, and skipped the vote on McCain-Lieberman in 2003.
Nelson seemingly prefers to listen to his polluter donors than to scientific fact. In 2009 alone, Nelson received $553,300 from agribusiness, $164,200 from oil and gas interests, and $140,199 from electric utilities. Nelson has even taken $31,500 from the virulently right-wing Koch Industries, the private pollution giant that has mobilized tea party opposition to climate and health care legislation. Berkshire Hathaway, whose subsidiary MidAmerican Energy is one of the nation’s largest coal-powered utilities, opposes climate legislation and has given Nelson $51,800. Coal-hauling Union Pacific is Nelson’s number-three contributor at $49,750.