Republicans demagogue against market-oriented climate measures they once supported

Meanwhile, the blame pre-game show begins

Now that the Grand Oil Party has been overrun by anti-science extremists, even “reasonable” members of the GOP have to demagogue against the most moderate, market-oriented, business-friendly climate policies they once supported:

And now that it’s clear we’re not going to get an economy-wide cap and trade bill, Grist has assembled a collection of the Senate “GOP’s most notable flip-floppers” on the issue:

Lisa MurkowskiSen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): Last month, she led an unsuccessful attempt to stop the EPA from controlling carbon emissions.  But just two years ago, she cosponsored a cap-and-trade bill. Here’s what she was saying then:

“I do support the cap-and-trade concept because I believe it offers the opportunity to reduce carbon, at the least cost to society. The signal about future prices sent to electric power-plant operators will hopefully stimulate spending on low- and zero-carbon renewable energy plants now.”

Richard LugarSen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.): He has proposed climate legislation that completely avoids any mention of carbon caps or pricing.  Two years ago, he felt a little differently:

“I’m impressed with the fact the Chicago Climate Exchange, maybe as a prelude to some type of cap-and-trade or carbon-pricing system in our country, has at least established a price for carbon.”

Lindsey GrahamSen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): He’s become the poster boy of GOP flip-floppers, bailing out on the comprehensive climate and energy legislation he created with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and now lining up behind Lugar’s toothless bill. Three months ago, he said this:

“I have no problem with trading as long as you don’t devastate the economy. This is what solved acid rain. Some people on my side say, ‘Just create incentives.’ I say that’s opening up the Treasury to every group in the country. I want to set emission standards and let the best technology win.”

Scott BrownSen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.): Once he started running for the U.S. Senate, Brown picked up his party’s  “cap-and-tax” mantra with gusto. But only two years ago, while supporting a version of a cap-and-trade bill in the Massachusetts legislature, he was of a different mind:

“Reducing carbon dioxide emission in Massachusetts has long been a priority of mine. Passing this legislation is an important step … towards improving our environment.”

John McCainSen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): With his recent swing to the right, McCain’s become one of the leaders of the GOP’s “cap-and-tax” chorus.  Yes, this is the same guy who cosponsored the first cap-and-trade bills in the Senate in 2003, 2005, and 2007, and who said this during his run for the White House in 2008:

“A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy. And the highest rewards will go to those who make the smartest, safest, most responsible choices”.

"elephant never forgets" logo

Come to the dark side: Steve Benen, writing in Washington Monthly, digs deeper into the morphing of the GOP into carbon-cap naysayers:

“Cap-and-trade — any version of it — has been deemed wholly unacceptable by Republicans this year. But given the intense opposition to the idea, it’s easy to forget that Republicans used to consider cap-and-trade a reasonable, market-based mechanism that was far preferable to command-and-control directives that the right found offensive.”

Such a deal: Grist’s David Roberts points out that the Republican alternatives to comprehensive climate legislation would not only do little to control carbon emissions, but also would cost more:

“The whole point of pricing carbon is that it pays for all the incentives. The Waxman-Markey bill and the Senate climate bill would both reduce the deficit; Republican alternatives (and Bingaman’s weak-ass energy bill) would increase it. Good climate policy is good fiscal policy.

If there is no climate bill this year, and presumably not for years to come, progressives will no doubt set up a circular firing squad — and there is certainly blame enough to go around — see “The unbearable lameness of being (Rahm and Axelrod).”

But most of the blame should go to the anti-science ideologues. They have spread disinformation and poisoned the debate so that is no longer even recognizable.

And if you are keeping score at home in the blame game, the media is the second most culpable group for their generally enabling coverage — see Must-read (again) study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics “” “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress.”

Those two groups deserve about 90% of the blame (60-30?), I think (assuming that we assume the 60 vote antidemocratic super majority requirement is unchangeable).  The other 10% goes to Obama and his team, Senate Democrats, scientists, environmentalists, and progressives.

11 Responses to Republicans demagogue against market-oriented climate measures they once supported

  1. Oliver James says:

    Agree on your proportioning of blame. Byrd and Kennedy dying didn’t help, either.

    The Senate might change its rules in January, knocking the cloture requirement down to 55 or even less (Harkin’s plan, I think) but even then, the problem for a future comprehensive bill could be the House. Therefore I think piecemeal legislation is the way forward over the next few years, not comprehensive (which of course is superior).

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on sequence and structure of such bills – if you have gotten your mind there yet.

  2. Not A Lawyer says:

    There’s at least one missing from that list — Lamar Alexander, who had previously co-sponsored utility sector cap-and-trade with Sen. Carper. Even had his own version of the bill in the last Congress.

  3. fj2 says:

    Regarding Joe Romm’s: “The other 10% goes to Obama and his team, Senate Democrats, scientists, environmentalists, and progressives.”

    Maybe I am missing something but, could not disagree more strongly as it is easy to call someone out on a lie and proceed with deliberative reality-based discussion — as the president has demonstrated so well in the past — and, as you have demonstrated so clearly where great leadership excels in broad pubic forums.

    The majority of blame goes to this group with much more emphasis on the leaders and the president not meeting the responsibility mandated by their jobs.

    “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”
    — “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare

  4. Peter Mizla says:

    I wonder if any of these clowns read anything

    some interesting News today from the CBC

    Temperatures in Canada’s Arctic were about 19 C warmer two million years ago than they are currently, according to a new study.

    And that means a small increase in global greenhouse gases could lead to a large drop in the amount of glacial ice in Canada’s northernmost region, according to a group of scientists led by researchers at the University of Colorado.

    “As temperatures approach zero degrees Celsius, it becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain permanent sea and glacial ice in the Arctic,” said Ashley Ballantyne, a University of Colorado geology professor and study member.
    Near zero

    The six-person research team — which included David Greenwood of the University of Manitoba and Natalia Rybczynski of Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Nature — figured that Ellesmere Island, located north of Baffin Bay, exhibited the higher temperatures in pre-historic times despite levels of carbon dioxide only slightly greater than they are now.

    Back then, Canada’s North was a much warmer place with active animal and plant life.

    The researchers set the island’s average annual temperature in that time at 0 C and the level of carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million of all molecules in the atmosphere.

    Ballantyne and the other scientists made their calculations by using fossilized wood and the well-preserved remains of prehistoric plants and soil bacteria from the island.
    Warning sign

    However, the group’s discovery indicates that Ellesmere Island could be heading back to its balmy past. That is because the current carbon-dioxide levels in the area are closer to 390 parts per million, near the levels now associated with pre-historic temperatures.

    “Our findings indicate that CO2 levels of approximately 400 parts per million are sufficient to produce mean annual temperatures in the High Arctic of approximately zero degrees Celsius,” Ballantyne said.

    As the temperature rises, the region’s ability to maintain its permanent ice fields will decrease, she said.

    Read more:

  5. fj2 says:

    A lot more responsibility goes to the president and his team not being more forceful on these issues, unless of course, their is a plan.

  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    Responsibility and Blame Are Not Zero-Sum Things (Or Rather, Things That Only Add to 100%)

    Although it’s correct that a great deal of responsibility and blame go to “deniers”, coal and oil company execs, the media, and so forth, it’s also correct that failure does nobody any good, and that there are enough people who “get it” but who aren’t doing all we could do, that we must assign ourselves immense blame if we can’t accomplish what needs to be accomplished for future generations, including our children, and other people around the world, and other species, and so forth.

    In other words, even as I assign immense blame to the news media — and I do — I ALSO think that we should give ourselves an “F”, and indeed be ashamed, if we cannot muster the intelligence, creativity, verve, and actions to bring about healthy change, despite the wind in our faces.

    Are we really doing all that we can do? Are we putting our very best creativity to work? Are we allowing ourselves to move beyond our comfort zones a bit? Have we even implemented a single boycott??

    (Every time I suggest a boycott, very few people even respond, and two-thirds of those who do respond mention reasons why they have already concluded that boycotts don’t work. The same people complain about corporations having too much economic power over democracy. Yes, boycotts are ways for publics to “hit back” WITH economic power.)

    In my view, we are as much in “denial” about the sorts of things that are helpful and necessary to bring about change, on the scale necessary, as the scientific deniers are in denial about the science of climate change itself. We “get” the science but do NOT understand what change movements require. It’s as simple as that, really. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can begin to be more effective. (Here, I’m talking about the necessary movements and so forth, not critiquing CP.)

    What do people have to say?



  7. Mossy says:

    Off topic, but am looking for further explanations of Harry Reid’s plan to amend S.3516, “The Outer Continental Shelf Reform Act of 2010″ (the Oil Spill Bill), with an attached “Manager’s Amendment” . This is propsed to include some sort of comprehensive energy/climate package and should be unveiled after July 4th. And how does this fit in with the Kerry Liberman bill?

  8. Michael Tucker says:

    Peter Mizla #4

    Very interesting study and we will be a 400ppm soon. When we get there maybe the US agricultural industry will be calling for action. Right now they fear a carbon tax or cap ‘n trade more than negative climate effects.

  9. Not A Lawyer says:

    @ Mossy – If that’s the bill I think it is, Reid’s plan is to attach all things energy/climate to it and dare the Republicans to reject an oil spill cleanup measure. That may include attaching Kerry-Lieberman, or whatever variation they come up with in the next few weeks. As majority leader, he can pretty much put whatever he wants in the manager’s amendment version of the bill.

  10. Ben Lieberman says:

    This grist list, as extended, is a small start. It’s unfortunately increasingly clear that current strategies to put pressure on political leaders are not remotely adequate. Many of our current political leaders apparently think that it is fine to destroy the world’s environment. What are the new forms of pressure to change the equation?

  11. wag says:

    I’m not ready to start talking about blame, but here’s one for starters: all of us who have not been calling our Congressmen to let them know we support cap-and trade.

    It’s not too late. Everyone needs to call their Senators and let them know how strongly you feel. If it’s a Democrat, tell them that you won’t volunteer or donate to Democrats in 2010.

    When bloggers like Steve Benen started pushing readers to exhort their Congressmen to “pass the damn bill,” the entire liberal blogosphere picked up the rally, and it no doubt had an impact in pressuring Congress. If we can do the same thing with climate, then maybe there’s a chance Congress will act. But unless they feel pressure from their constituents, we’re leaving it up to their moral courage – and who thinks THAT’s a winning strategy?