Rep. Tom Perriello tells ˜spineless Senate to get ˜its head out of its rear end and confront climate crisis

Tom PerrielloRep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) is “sick” of the “insider baseball crap” dominating the Senate debate over global warming and energy reform. In an interview with Grist, the first-term congressman stated in no uncertain terms that the country is at risk from global warming and our economy is at risk of losing the clean energy race. Like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Perriello has not one lick of sympathy for those in the Senate who deny these threats:

That’s more insider baseball crap. I don’t really care. I’m sick of starting with what can we get through the Senate; let’s start with what solves the damn problem. Until the Senate gets its head out of its rear end and starts to see the crisis we’re in, our country is literally at risk. Our economy is at risk, because these jobs are being created overseas. It should have the same urgency with this problem that it had bailing out Wall Street. We are swearing an oath to do what’s necessary to protect this country, not do what’s necessary to get a bill through the Senate.

Perriello repeatedly expressed his belief that Congressional inaction on jobs, national security, and scientific “challenge of our era” is due to a lack of courage and responsibility:

This is the challenge of our time””the jobs opportunity, the national security challenge, the scientific challenge of our era. Any plan that uses market forces to signal a carbon-constrained environment is going to move us in the right direction. People who don’t support this kind of aggressive energy independence are just selling Americans short.

– We’re so far behind China, Europe, and other areas in the energy jobs of the future because neither party has had the guts to take this on. There are so many spineless people in D.C.

– Every week the Senate doesn’t act, it either freezes that investment and innovation or it sends it overseas. We’re giving up jobs. The Senate””the ridiculous tactics of the Republicans and the timidity of the Democrats””is standing in the way of the kind of job creation we need.

– Unfortunately, good ideas, ideas that could save our country, sometimes take 30 minutes to explain and only 30 seconds to demagogue. In between those two things is leadership, and we haven’t had the moral courage to take this on.

Perriello’s support for cap-and-trade legislation has made him a target of Republicans and polluters, who have mocked him with ads about snowstorms and flooded his office with forged letters of opposition.

This Wonk Room repost is by Brad Johnson.

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17 Responses to Rep. Tom Perriello tells ˜spineless Senate to get ˜its head out of its rear end and confront climate crisis

  1. fj2 says:

    Absolutely! This is type drive toward action that must continue.

  2. climateprogressive says:

    Excellent! It’s about time the head-in-the-sand dinosaurs had the push and we actually start to do something about these twin challenges that, if unmitigated, will bring the U.S. to its knees.

  3. Leif says:

    Rep. Tom Perriello says: … “let’s start with what solves the damn problem.”

    Tom, you are my man of the day today.

    Step one: Define the problem! To most of us on this site that is a done deal, however in a democracy, for the most part it is rule by majority. For this to be effective the population needs to be educated and informed. Decades if neglect in both the school system for our youth and media system for the adults have bequeathed the nation with muddled thinking susceptible to sound bites, advertising and propaganda from the vested interests of the status quo. Enough of these ill-informed folks and society becomes “tyranny of the masses” with no chance for rational action to prevail. Re-education in a meaningful timeframe appears to be fruitless. Leadership or a “brick to the head” of the population or both are in order.

    Step two: Accept the problem an something that society can not only address but can in fact become significantly improved upon with honest discourse and humanitarian efforts prevailing.

    One way or another society will look significantly different in short order. It will either be “every man for himself” or Spaceship Earth and it’s inhabitants working together for the well-being of the earth’s life support systems and humanities subsequent long term prosperity. I know my choice…

  4. Tim says:

    See Tom Friedman’s NYT piece today, which has this great quote from Sen. Lindsay Graham: “We are more dependent on foreign oil today than after 9/11. That is political malpractice, and every member of Congress is responsible.” And THAT’s a Republican talking there! Would that both Dems & Reps would pull their heads outta their asses and do the right thing for a change.

  5. fj2 says:

    These are the facts about climate change

    1. Climate change is accelerating at a yet undetermined rate and will devastate civilization as we know it even if it were to progress constantly at the current rate which is not the case. Extreme climate change is accelerating.

    2. If human emissions were magically reduced to zero at this very moment:

    a. This planet will continue to heat up beyond the next one hundred years

    b. A number of dire environmental changes will happen such as loss of the Arctic ice cover during the summer and complete melting of the tundra causing amplifying feedback systems to kick in further accelerating climate change and environmental devastation

    c. Accelerating collapse of marine ecosystems will continue further accelerating the crisis and it is not clear all the services these systems provide in stabilizing the climate and global environment in addition to providing food

    d. Accelerating shortages of food, reduced crop yields heat-caused and otherwise, water supplies, arable land, etc.

    e. Accelerating mass extinctions and drastic changes in ecosystems, diseases, etc.

    f. To make matters worse, there are lots of “known unknowns” and likely even more “unknown unknowns” and even seismic in scale

    3. Magical complete immediate elimination of emissions is the best possible scenario. Unfortunately this is only fantasy and will not happen. Human civilization must mobilize immediately to completely eliminate emissions even though this is a lot worse than the “magical” complete elimination of emissions

    4. Heroic innovations — as yet unknown — will likely be the only way to lessen the unprecedented catastrophes unfolding around us. Immediate mobilization will hopefully prevent the worse possible outcomes.

    We are in the midst of an accelerating global environmental “Pearl Harbor” of unprecedented devastation and global leaders must make this common knowledge of the most extreme urgency to immediately mobilize the people of this planet to lessen as much as possible the massive devastation to come. This must be an all-out effort with science, technology, industry, and raw human effort aggressively applied in the most effective and expedient way.

    The President of the United States must provide the leadership to make this happen. First, he must stand before The United States of America and the world to completely detail this dire emergency. He must then broadly detail the rapid evolution of strategies and urgent call to action in the unprecedented quest to save civilization as we know it. He must also detail the types of tremendous opportunities and advancement of human civilization that will likely rise out of this extreme heroic human effort.

    It is from heroic attempts at solving the most difficult problems that humanity advances the most.

  6. prokaryote says:

    “This is the challenge of our time—the jobs opportunity, the national security challenge, the scientific challenge of our era. ”

    Following The Financial Crisis: Worse Recession, Wave of Terror, Internet Revolt and War on Migration

    Solution = Clean Energy – globaly. To save the climate state and to prevent chaos.
    We face a new situation here. Stop aggression and start with sustainability to recreate thrust and to stabilize 3rd world countrys.

  7. Dana says:

    I think I have a new favorite Congressman. Perriello is the man!

  8. MarkB says:

    Friedman’s piece in the NYT quotes Graham:

    “Cap-and-trade as we know it is dead, but the issue of cleaning up the air and energy independence should not die — and you will never have energy independence without pricing carbon,” Graham argues. “The technology doesn’t make sense until you price carbon. Nuclear power is a bet on cleaner air. Wind and solar is a bet on cleaner air. You make those bets assuming that cleaning the air will become more profitable than leaving the air dirty, and the only way it will be so is if the government puts some sticks on the table — not just carrots. The future economy of America and the jobs of the future are going to be tied to cleaning up the air, and in the process of cleaning up the air this country becomes energy independent and our national security is greatly enhanced.”

    I’m not sure what to make of that. Saying cap and trade is dead implies it’s an admission that it’s not politically viable – that the coal state Democrats won’t budge and Republicans much outside of Graham have been further empowered by obstructionism – odd to begin with considering most Americans support cap and trade. Cap and trade to my knowledge is at least as politically viable as any other carbon pricing mechanism. Waxman-Markey went through a long process. Doing something drastically different from that is like starting over, which is probably going to result in more severe roadblocks than they currently have. Who knows where the House will stand. If this drags into 2011, which seems likely if they’re “starting over”, with Democrats probably losing 4-5 Senate seats and a couple dozen in the House, it’s not going to improve their chances.

    The cynical end result is a bill that simply provides good tax incentives for renewables, nuclear, and offshore drilling – marginally better than the Senate has done in the past, but nothing that’s going to improve chances very much for international agreements or long-term emissions reductions.

  9. fj2 says:

    This is pretty much what Lester Brown’s “scientific reality” in “Plan B 4.0” when Rep. Tom Perriello talks about “the scientific challenge of our era.”

  10. The comments of support and admiration of Rep. Tom Perriello are nice and supportive, but with all due respect, achieve nothing. What we need to do is act, that is: send financial contribution to his office to help him fight for his seat and also increase his ability to spread his message.
    You see, industry spent last year over 3 million dollars per member of Congress lobbying for their views. Also, every House member has to raise substantial sums for reelection every two years, which takes considerable amount of his time. Typically he has to raise $20,000 to $40,000 PER WEEK, during his 2 years term.
    All good congress menebers need financial support, so help them with money, not words.

  11. prokaryote says:

    China says moving to enforce greenhouse gas goals

    India to Start Clean Energy Fund by Taxing Coal Use (Update1)

    Bill in Japanese stipulates 25% emissions cuts

  12. paulm says:

    Ok, lets go folks, lets get motoring – its time to save the world. Literally!

  13. Roger says:

    Kudos to fj2 (@6). It’s time for Obama to EDUCATE and LEAD on climate.

    “Educate” because most Americans are misinformed, hence they don’t ‘get’ the need to act, and don’t support actions that will preserve our climate.

    “Lead” because that’s what heroic leaders do when their citizens are faced with the “Black Swan” opportunity and threat of the millennium!

    Google “Global Warming Education Network,” click on the site, then sign the petition asking Obama to Educate and Lead on Climate.

    If you’re able, join us in front of the White House at 1pm on Earth Day.

  14. There we see the difference between winners and leaders. Our world is full of wealthy winners, few of whom have the gumption to speak up and lead.

    Thanks go to Tom Perriello for demonstrating leadership. Quite an education.

  15. cc says:

    Tom Perriello represents the Virginia district where I grew up and where unemployment is running 25% in some areas. We desperately need the green jobs he talks about. Please contribute to Perriello’s re-election campaign at He works 24/7 not only to help his constituents, but also to promote what is good for the country. In an effort to unseat him because of his votes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create green jobs, and provide health care for everyone, lobbyists have spent over $700,000 on attack ads and have targeted him as one of three freshmen congressmen they particularly want out of the House. He won by only 727 votes at age 34 in 2008, so it will be a tough race. Please join the Perriello re-election effort. FYI, I am not a part of his re-election committee, but just a concerned citizen who thinks Perriello is the type of representative we need in Congress.