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Chait and Klein: Lindsey Graham is Right

By Joe Romm on April 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm

"Chait and Klein: Lindsey Graham is Right"

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Senate staffer: Graham’s been “completely genuine” in bipartisan negotiations for climate and clean energy jobs bill

If email, comments on CP, and some eco-bloggers are to be believed, conservative Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been planning to walk on the climate bill for a long time — perhaps, nefariously, from the very beginning!  And I certainly understand where that sentiment is coming from, given that the GOP strategy on health care and financial reform has been to feign interest and then bolt.

In fact, however, that view lacks plausibility, as The New Republic‘s Jonathan Chait explained in his Sunday column, “Lindsey Graham Is Right.”  Indeed, the WashPost‘s Ezra Klein argues today that Graham, “is not only right to be annoyed, but as far I can tell, is actually right.”

I spoke to a Senate staffer today who is familiar with Graham’s multi-month efforts with Kerry and Lieberman and the White House to develop a bill.  He said Graham has been “completely genuine.”  Long-time readers of this blog know that Graham has made stronger statements than almost anybody on the Democratic side about this bill (reposted below).  He could easily have walked away months ago, say, when Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election or when the Dems used the reconciliation process to pass health care.

As Klein writes, “He’s taken a huge risk to be the lone Republican on climate change.”  Chait goes further, saying it “seems unfair” to accuse Graham of having “negotiated in bad faith,” pointing out:

Graham has been painstakingly attempting to assemble a political and business coalition for legislation to mitigate climate change. He has also been working on immigration reform, but the Democrats’ weak signals of interest before last week have helped contribute to an atmosphere where nobody expected a bill to advance this year, and thus little headway has been made. There has been no House immigration bill, whereas the House has passed a climate bill already. Graham was set to unveil his bill on Monday when Harry Reid pulled the carpet out from under him by announcing that immigration would come first and climate — which gets harder to do as the elections gets closer — probably never.

As for bad faith, Graham is a Republican Senator from South Carolina. His highest risk of losing his seat, by far, comes from the prospect of a conservative primary challenger. Indeed, I’d say that prospect is far from remote, and Graham is displaying an unusual willingness to risk his political future. He has little incentive to negotiate on these issues except that he believes it’s the right thing to do. So when Democrats put climate change on the backburner to take up immigration, and so so for obviously political reasons, Graham has every right to be angry. He’s risking his political life to address a vital issue, and Harry Reid is looking to save his seat.

If you don’t think Graham can get a serious challenger from his right because of this, one need look no further than his good friend John McCain, who went from being his party’s standardbearer to just another insufficiently-hard-line-ideologue for the Tea Partiers in a matter of months.

And consider Graham’s various statements on this subject.  Back in January, he said:

But the idea of not pricing carbon, in my view, means you’re not serious about energy independence. The odd thing is you’ll never have energy independence until you clean up the air, and you’ll never clean up the air until you price carbon.

And he also said:

“Six months ago my biggest worry was that an emissions deal would make American business less competitive compared to China,” said Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who has been deeply involved in climate change issues in Congress. “Now my concern is that every day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy.”

He added: “China has made a long-term strategic decision and they are going gang-busters.”

This just isn’t the language of somebody who is acting in bad faith, who has been planning to bolt for months.  Indeed, I expect we’ll be waiting a long, long time to hear such blunt language about pricing carbon from any significant number of moderate Democrats.

Finally, the fundamental difference between the GOP bad-faith feints on healthcare and what Graham is doing on the climate bill is that, as we saw, the Democrats in the Senate could get 60 votes for a health care bill.  They never actually needed the Republicans.  It was only (misguided) Democratic desire for bipartisanship that led them to being suckered by Republicans into wasting several months trying to get a single GOP vote.  Dems wanted Reps, they didn’t need them.

From the start, however, supporters of climate action needed multiple Republicans, as I pointed out many times.  But Olympia Snowe, the most obvious candidate, never was successfully engaged.  And Maria Cantwell helped enable Susan Collins to avoid negotiations on a bill that could plausibly pass the Senate.  Absent Graham, Dems had no plan B.

In short, if Graham wasn’t doing this because he firmly believed in it, then none of his actions this year actually make any sense.  Now it is sometimes [often] the case that politicians repeatedly do things that make no sense.  But Graham certainly knew that the Democrats needed him infinitely more than he needed them.

UPDATE:  I’m currently expecting that the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham will soon be sent to EPA to be modeled.  It is not yet clear that Graham and Reid will come to an understanding.  If they do, the story can move from being about Lindsey Graham’s alleged bad faith, to the actual bad faith of the anti-science ideologues who are the primary obstacle to passing a serious climate and clean energy jobs bill.

If that doesn’t happen, I think it will be mostly due to the ongoing wishy-washiness of the White House — see Brad Johnson’s latest Wonk Room post:  White House: Immigration Is ‘Important’ And Energy Is ‘Critical,’ But Reid ‘Sets The Agenda’, which notes:

When it comes to setting the national agenda and leading the Democratic Party, the buck stops at the President’s desk, not at Harry Reid’s. The real people who need real action on immigration and climate reform need the White House to assert leadership.

Related Posts:

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White House: Immigration Is ‘Important’ And Energy Is ‘Critical,’ But Reid ‘Sets The Agenda’

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42 Responses to Chait and Klein: Lindsey Graham is Right

  1. Dana says:

    I agree – it’s completely unfair to say Graham has been planning to walk away from the climate bill negotiations for a long time. He’s been extremely supportive of the bill, even in the media, and even in the face of intense criticism from his own base. And he’s certainly correct that climate should be the priority over immigration.

    I can see where Graham is coming from. He’s also co-authoring an immigration reform bill and feels it’s not ready, unlike the climate and energy bill. Then suddenly Reid says he’s pushing immigration ahead of climate, probably for his own personal gain. This would draw focus away from the more time-critical legislation. I definitely see Graham’s frustration. It’s also possible that he’s bluffing to get the Senate’s priorities straight. The latest news is that he may already be coming back to the table.

    But ultimately, Graham is the only reason the bill has a chance to pass this year to begin with. Taking pot shots at him for walking away in frustration at Reid’s poor prioritization isn’t justified or fair.

  2. Great post, what do you think it’s going to take to make this kind of bill go through? Do you think that making energy consumption available to the public could make some kind of difference?

  3. Snowe and Collins always vote with us on renewables and environment. They will vote with Graham.

  4. Daniel Ives says:

    I certainly hope that they get the climate bill back on track to being debated soon. The Democrats have tons of ammunition to use against GOP denialists (such as the recent reports that reveal that “Climategate” was nothing more than a huge PR fiasco, warmest Jan-Feb-Mar on record, etc). Plus, even the GOP is realizing that by pushing denialism, they are pushing away young voters. If the Democrats can combat the GOP’s trademark “cap-and-tax” talking point, they should easily be able to back them into a corner far enough for a few to jump on board with the legislation.

    I’m excited to see how it all plays out!

  5. john atcheson says:

    I don’t necessarily believe Graham was planning all along to bolt; what I do believe is that in today’s Republican Party, dissenting from the Party’s strategy is so costly, and Graham received such pressure from them, that he was looking around desperately for an off ramp.

    And that was predictable. The Party is dominated by ideologues who put Party way before country and who aggressively punish those who don’t.

    Did the Dems give him an easy out? Yes.

    Would he have bolted if they hadn’t anyway? Almost certainly. The costs to him were high, and getting higher by the hour.

  6. fj2 says:

    This is a terrific opportunity for leadership on the most important issue of our time.

    The personal risk is minimal. The personal and communal benefit is significant.

  7. Dean says:

    Graham may well have been genuine in his intent all along, but just started feeling too much pressure and needed some excuse to back out.

  8. Cass says:

    I absolutely agree regarding the pressure Graham is under. That doesn’t mean that I agree with everything in the bill they will (hopefully) propose. But he has taken a risk, and has been open to compromise on the issue. And getting a Republican like Graham to endorse the bill would probably bring Snowe, Collins, and possibly Voinovich. Here’s a good clip of Graham getting heckled at his own town hall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP7nCyqMTsE

    Graham, Kerry, Lieberman need to push back HARD against the anti-science, flat earth crowd. Those people have dominated the discourse lately. And Americans’ collective memory is very short.

  9. Peter Wood says:

    If Graham’s actions leads to Reid considering climate change legislation first, and Graham comes back on board, then his action would have made passage more likely. The main obstacle was not Graham walking, but Reid pushing climate legislation down the agenda.

  10. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Reid’s alleged culpability for this fiasco doesn’t make sense to me.
    How would he raise the prospect of his re-election by such brazen voluntary incompetence as to wreck the passage of two bills, one of which is critical to US, and global, security ?

    (Re that global security aspect, see Pentagon statements on the strategic threats posed by global warming outcomes).

    Far from serving his re-election, the flack that will now build against Reid, among democratic voters, will patently diminish his prospects of retaining his seat.

    He is however a very easily positioned scapegoat if the Whitehouse were privately content to arrive at Cancun without even a 3.67% cut by 2020 off 1990 on the statute book, and has persuaded him to arrange it. The US delegation could then repeat the Denmark ploy of blaming China for not accepting US ‘aspirations’, and retreat home with the default status quo outcome intact.

    This possible manouvre will be affirmed or denied by the degree of Whitehouse effort applied to re-instating the climate bill schedule. Thus far such efforts seem non-existent.

    As Brad Johnson wrote:
    “When it comes to setting the national agenda and leading the Democratic Party, the buck stops at the President’s desk, not at Harry Reid’s. The real people who need real action on immigration and climate reform need the White House to assert leadership.”

    Regards,

    Lewis

  11. wag says:

    Even the CEO of oil services company Schlumberger believes climate change is real and worth taking action against. I found this quote in the McKinsey Quarterly:

    And then on climate change, our opinion—and it’s my opinion, this is a very personal thing—is that there is sufficient evidence of an increase in the level of emissions in the atmosphere to be concerned about the effect that it may have on the climate. But the science of climatology is by no means complete, and it is going to take a long time before we really know what the effect of these emissions is going to be. In the meantime, it is prudent and reasonable to try to reduce those emissions as much as we can.

    Again, that’s not a “climate activist.” That’s the CEO of a $27 billion oil services company.

    http://akwag.blogspot.com/2010/04/schlumberger-ceo-on-climate-change.html

  12. lizardo says:

    My comment: Good analysis.

    Do you suppose this is something leaked from Harry Reid’s office? I thought Reid’s initial public response to Graham’s letter was not very nice. I don’t think this would have happened because of GOP pressure or it would have happened before this. (By the way I was disappointed in Reid from day one. In this day and age the role is dual, both a spokesperson and a deal maker, and Reid has turned out to be not good at either apparently.)

    By the way, the lack of cheerleading from the White House may well be because there’s no damned Senate bill to cheerlead for. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, on the Senate system.

    Response to “cap and tax” if only the Senate would just try to pass Waxman-Markey would be “cap and tax THEM, rebate to YOU.”

    [JR: WH sat back on the issue of the century, the issue that will determine how history judges them, and said you folks who gave us health care, you solve it and call us when you get something. Not FDR stuff.]

  13. Joe P. says:

    Assuming things get back on track this week, what is the timing for this bill? There’s the EPA modeling, will there need to be a CBO score, which committees need to mark this thing up? I’m wondering if anyone’s posted the rough milestones that would be involved, as I figure the chances of passage are related to the summer temperature and the hurricane season.

    [JR: Right now, I'm afraid we'd need a bunch of Pearl Harbors this summer to pass a bill in the Senate.]

  14. prokaryote says:

    [JR: Right now, I'm afraid we'd need a bunch of Pearl Harbors this summer to pass a bill in the Senate.]

    Actualy this is what some seem to be waiting for and this will happen in one form or another. In particular this could mean Katrina 2.0 or a high mortality heatwave event. The bill needs the right climate and it is of no help if we just get a half assed agreement. The people need to demand this. Progress is on it’s very own way.

    Quote
    “We will need a WWII-style approach, but that can only happen after we get the global warming Pearl Harbor or, more likely, multiple Pearl Harbors.”
    http://climateprogress.org/2008/11/24/what-are-the-near-term-climate-pearl-harbors/

  15. Matt Rhodes says:

    Interesting theory: did Lindsey Graham back down due to pressure from … the White House? http://tinyurl.com/2wh5unj

    [JR: Uhh, no.]

  16. Matt Rhodes says:

    JR; Certainly can’t blame someone for thinking waaaay outside the box; cheers!

  17. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Given that Reid’s part in the fiasco preceeds that of Graham, what is the explanation of how Reid’s causing the failure of both climate and immigration legislation this year will help him to get re-elected ?

    If that was not his motivation, what others should be considered ?

  18. Bob Wallace says:

    Here’s John Kerry’s statement on the issue. He states that Graham has been a very involved and honest player in the process.

    And he basically says that it ain’t dead. (I like his list of all the times health care legislation was declared dead. Right up to when it passed.)

    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/04/26/climate_bill_still_moving_forward/?ref=fpblg

  19. Gary says:

    Comments given on this blog are opinions….often astute. I concur with
    Joe…..the white house judgments and actions concerning climate change
    has been woefully slow and muddle-headed from the beginning….the
    President’s personal adviser needs to step down.

  20. @17:

    My guess is that there was an observation of a potential opportunity. The GOP is vulnerable on immigration issues because so many of the votes they need to cultivate are Hispanic.

    Obama is a poker player as well as a strategic thinker. This whole issue may go back into the drawer if it appears to hold no long term benefit. If, on the other hand, Dem’s and Whitehouse believe they can bully some Republicans out of their seats in Congress with this blunt instrument, then it will be the headliner into November.

    This is not a gamble I would choose to make. On the other hand, knowing what I know (and what can easily be found by tracking the stories down in the Chicago papers) about the President’s poker playing skills, I would not sit down at a card table with him either.

    Short answer: we’ll see.

  21. mike roddy says:

    The oil companies and Teabaggers will try to raise Strom Thurmond or Jefferson Davis from the grave to defeat Graham in his next primary election, even if he recants his support for the climate bill. Siding with Democrats even temporarily has become about like going gay as far as Republicans are concerned. Snarly freaks like Cheney and aging porn stars like Palin have captured the party “faithful”.

    I like Graham, but getting into the heads of Washington politicians as a way to understand their motivations is just too horrifying an exercise.

  22. Ben P says:

    I know this is an environmental blog, but the rationale the Dems have from a political standpoint is totally logical. I don’t understand the Dems who don’t understand the politics of this.

    There is basically no short term upside to the climate bill. It probably can’t pass and the political optics – short term – are good for the GOP and advance a narrative they want advanced. You are naive as hell if you think the GOP won’t demagogue the hell out of the climate bill. It will be Healthcare 2.0, or at least it could be. Also, it will be much harder to get Democratic votes and I think it is naive to think that lots of GOP votes are in play. The pressure and incentives to obstruct for the GOP here are massive and irresistible.

    Conversely, immigration is just a horrible, horrsible issue for the GOP. I think it is almost existentially bad for them. Short term, it has some downsides for for the Dems, but it is just horrible for the GOP. I don’t think people realize how badly things like the Sensenbrenner Law in 2005 and this Arizona thing are for Republicans. It helps, I think if you live in the west, where the Latino community is much larger, maybe.

    Whethter or not it passes, it advances some ugly, uncomfortable narratives for the GOP. It alienates middle of the road voters from the GOP, splits the GOP base, and potentially increases Latino votes for the Dems. People here have to undertand that Latino votes were absolutely key to Democratic success in ’06 and ’08 and payback of some kind is expected. Listen to the Spanish language media, the sense of frustration on the issue has been bubbling for a while now.

    ON the other hand, there is no mass constituency for Cap and Trade. There definitely IS a mass constituency against it, however. A lot of people kind of support it, but that’s it.

  23. Sou says:

    Bad news from Australia – the ETS has been put on hold.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/27/2883903.htm

  24. Michael Heath says:

    Sen. Graham has four years prior to his next Senatorial campaign given he was last re-elected in 2008.

  25. Chris Dudley says:

    The President has been using his power to wreck the environment, pushing nuclear power, allowing more MTR and placing much of our coastlines in danger of destruction by oil spills. Much of this, so the story goes, is to invite republicans to cooperate on greenhouse gases.

    On the other hand, the President has been ordered by the Supreme Court to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and has not done so. The story here is that it is using the threat of regulation, which he must do, to force congress to write a new law. This is contemptuous of both the court and congress. Congress already has passed legislation, the Clean Air Act, and the court has already said it applies.

    I think Joe has a point that congress must act in some way for an international treaty to go forward, but the main way it needs to act is to ratify the treaty. It has not been shy in the past about signaling its intentions on this. A treaty must include China and India cutting emissions.

    Senator Graham’s participation seems to have been aimed at promoting oil drilling, promoting nuclear power and gutting Clean Air Act authority to regulate greenhouse gases. None of these are positive things. More domestic oil production just keeps the price of oil high and wrecks the economy. Nuclear power is so expensive that its opportunity costs slow replacing fossil fuel generation. Gutting the Clean Air Act is a step backwards. But, he has accomplished all these things and now walks away. He has opened up the Florida coast and much more for drilling, something the former administration could not do. He has tripled the amount of taxpayer give aways to nuclear power which will default on loan guarantees, and he has kept the EPA from following a court order, thus nullifying the Clean Air Act. He has been clear about his intentions so there can be no charge of bad faith when, having accomplished what he set out to do, he walks away.

    The President, on the other hand, to show good faith in up holding his oath of office, needs to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as the court has ordered and stop making that some kind of optional thing. And, the President needs to get stronger commitments from China and India so that the Senate can ratify a climate treaty. If he sticks to that, we should be in good shape.

  26. mike roddy says:

    Good one, Chris Dudley, #25. I agree that we need to stop tippy toeing and apologizing for sellouts, including at the top.

  27. Mike #22 says:

    (Here’s Graham on this)
    (from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/36383.html )

    Graham had even tougher talking points late Monday: He emerged from a closed-door meeting with Kerry and Lieberman to say that immigration must be tabled altogether before he will agree to back any energy bill this year.

    “I’ve told Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Kerry that I’d love for climate legislation to be successful, and I know what it takes to do hard stuff. And the current political environment, what’s happened in the last few days, makes energy and climate, which is hard, impossible. … Everybody knows that immigration has no chance,” Graham told reporters.

    “What changed wasn’t me — what changed was immigration coming out of left field,” he added. “If you think I’ve somehow walked away because of the pressure, you shouldn’t do business with me. … What I’ve got to decide is, should I consider to do business with people who are in less than good faith.”

    “It dooms everything,” Graham said about Reid’s determination to bring up immigration reform. “It’s not that I’m not capable of doing two things; it’s that the immigration issue has no traction.”

  28. Sasparilla says:

    Great piece Joe, I think you’re right on here.

  29. Bob Wallace says:

    Let me ask…

    What is the cost if a climate bill does not pass in the next couple years?

    We aren’t building any more (or building very, very few) new coal plants. We are converting some coal plants to biomass, others to natural gas. Coal has dropped from 50% to 44% of our grid supply.

    Corporation/private money is pouring in renewable research and installation. (Home solar doubled last year, geothermal increased by 29%, wind set a record,….) CO2 free power has risen from 6% to 10% of our grid supply.

    Car manufacturers have been told to greatly increase their efficiency.

    We’re seeing builders increase building energy efficiency.

    We’re seeing new, more efficient products come to market.

    I can see that a good climate bill could speed up the transition off of fossil fuels. But could it speed things up significantly more than the current rate? Some of the ability to get off of fossil fuels is having a reasonable alternative.

    And what is being left unstarted/undone until a climate bill passes?

  30. Chris Dudley says:

    Mike #27,

    Interesting that Graham, whose claim to fame is failing to win conviction in the Senate in an impeachment trail, is now an expert on what can be done. Isn’t he more a junior partner in this?

    With President Obama very likely to have the highest annual percentage increase in coal mine fatalities of any President ever, the Gulf about to see severe loss of fisheries and most nuclear power plants leaking radiation, the time for a sensible energy policy seems ripe. Dropping Graham from the effort is probably a very good thing since he does not do sensible.

  31. ed says:

    reposting from Brad Delong’s website/Greg Sargent’s Plumb Line: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/04/why-we-would-all-be-better-off-without-the-republican-party.html

    Lindsey did this before so he’s just throwing a tantrum.

  32. Bob Wallace says:

    Chris, I recognize that you apparently have some sort of deep hatred for President Obama. That, you’ll have to deal with on your own.

    But I think that it’s important for the rest of us to realize that this trend to cut regulation started with Reagan and blossomed with Bush.

    When Obama came into office he increased the number of judges needed to reduce the backlog of industry safety-delaying appeals from ten to fourteen.

    With hindsight should he have appointed more? Sure. Hindsight often shows use a better way than was visible before the fact.

    But please try to overcome your prejudice/whatever and play fair.

  33. Bob Wallace says:

    “Supporters of a stalled Senate energy (climate) bill are floating a compromise that would put immigration reform on a fast track through the regular committee process and allow the energy bill to move forward on the Senate floor.

    The proposal would tentatively set action on immigration for November after the midterm elections – a delay that even some Democrats would welcome.

    The potential breakthrough came just a day after an the energy package was quietly forwarded to the Environmental Protection Agency for analysis – another indication that the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have not given up on it.”

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/36431.html

  34. Chris Dudley says:

    Bob #32,

    You seem touchy about the President. Mine safety has shown pretty steady improvement for fifty years up to the prior administration. Reagan, Bush and Clinton all made improvements. They probably could have done better but at least the trend was right. In the prior administration, things plateaued. Since the volume of coal extracted is increasing because the quality of the coal is decreasing, one might give the prior administration a break saying that there might be slight weighted improvement, but really there has been an increase in open pit mining and a reduction in Appalachian mining where most of the fatalities occur so it is probably better to say that the prior administration just did not have its eye on the ball.

    Now, the Obama administration came in on a platform of hope and change. They have the authority to close unsafe mines and didn’t. And they still haven’t. So, very likely there will be a statistical record broken this year. It is not a matter of liking or disliking the president. It is a matter of judging an administration by how it behaves. Illinois, where he comes from, has had 14 coal mining fatalities since 1996. Maybe he is just used to it and figures nothing can be done. But coal mine safety remains his responsibility and it should get better rather than worse. More than a year into the administration, that does not look like the direction we’re heading.

  35. Mike #22 says:

    Chris,

    “with the President likely…coal mine fatalities”

    I am not in agreement with your framing of this.

    Same with BP’s disaster, 40 year old nukes, and Graham’s accomplishments.

    Mike of (at least) 22

  36. Bob Wallace says:

    Chris, you in the past on this site asserted that Obama turned his back on West Virginia because WV voted for Hillary in the primaries.

    It has been explained to you multiple times that some mine operators, including Massey, began a practice of disputing almost all violation writeups which clogged up the enforcement process. This began and built under the previous administration.

    It has been explained to you multiple times that soon after this administration came to power President Obama added four more judges to the existing ten in order to clean up the backlog of appeals left over from the previous administration so that action could be taken against apparently dangerous mines.

    There is a legal procedure for the federal government to close a mine. I do not believe it is within the power of a sitting president to close a mine without following this procedure. (Apparently some governors have that power.)

    Is the body count in coal mines likely to be higher during Obama’s first two years than it was in Bush’s last two? This last disaster pretty much made that true.

    Does the primary blame lie with the current administration which was working to resolve a problem left to them or with the previous administration who allowed the problem to form?

    Now, do I feel “touchy” about the President?

    I think no more that I do about anyone whom I feel is being repeatedly falsely accused.

  37. Chris Dudley says:

    Bob #36,

    You yourself have provides a link saying that the President is not limited to that particular mechanism for closing mines when mine safety is at issue. You appear to be mistaken on this.

    One problem in mine safety is that the Obama administration was not bothering to see that inspectors completed required training. Another is that coal is becoming harder to mine in Appalachia so inspectors need to be more vigilant as the possibilities for technical problems multiply. That means more inspectors or more overtime. One does not get the sense that the administration was stepping it up on this. More judges is not more inspections.

    We are seeing an attitude of run to failure at the NRC, the Minerals Management Service and now apparently at the MSHA. This seem pervasive for the industries, nuclear, oil and coal, that the administration favors with expanded loan guarantees, expanded risky drilling areas and CCS funding that even the prior administration canceled as a boondoggle.

    Remember that President Obama can end the coal mining deaths this year with pretty good certainty by closing unsafe mines. If they are unsafe, they can be closed. He does not need to tote up this statistic if he acts now. And, even if he were as impotent as you seem to believe, he could ask the governors to do it. There is plenty of natural gas available to take up the slack in energy supply if the worst mines are closed. There is really no excuse.

  38. Daniel Ives says:

    Joe,

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/27/senate-climate-bill-will-_n_554568.html

    Just saw this on Huff Post. Looks like Sen. Reid will put climate bill before immigration bill.

    [JR: Yeah. That was inevitable. May be too late, however, to put Humpty Dumpty back together again]

  39. Bob Wallace says:

    Chris #37 – please point me to that link. I don’t recall reading anything along that line.

    Today I heard two things which just came out. Apparently there was some sort of mechanism for inspectors to close mines, but “they had never tried it out”. Sounded like some sort of forgotten tool in the box.

    And a miner who had quit after working for Massey for 11 years described how the Massey people would cover up their practices.

    They would bring multiple test instruments into the mine and continue to take readings until they got one that was adequately low to submit. (We had the same problem here with the Humboldt Bay Reactor. Test until you pass.)

    They would turn off machinery and rehang safety curtains when the inspectors were on their way, pass the inspection, and then take down the curtains and start up again.

  40. fj2 says:

    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-05-02-one-thing-graham-is-right-about-obama

    “One thing Graham is right about: Obama,” David Roberts, Grist, 1 May 2010

    “It would have taken an extraordinary act of leadership for Obama to champion Climate in the face of these political headwinds. He would have been gambling his administration and Democratic majorities with no clear expectations of success. I think the problem is of sufficient magnitude and urgency that such leadership is demanded of him, morally and politically. Obama doesn’t. Graham wasn’t wrong to notice.”

    Is this health care all over again? . . . destructive political headwinds will likely continue to prevail making it is best to face the storm head on with all hands on deck, in military speed, resolve and urgency; and, hope for the best.

  41. fj2 says:

    #40. fj2 (continued)

    And, may not be as much of a risk as it is seems to be as people tend to rally around strong successful leaders.

  42. fj2 says:

    Meeting the ever-accelerating environmental crisis head-on may well be one of the finest moments — and opportunities — in the advance of civilization.

    Maybe The Nobel Committee saw this in The President.

    And maybe, so did Lindsey Graham.