As Washington, D.C. wilts in the global heat wave gripping the planet, the Democratic leadership in the Senate has abandoned the effort to cap global warming pollution for the foreseeable future, unwilling to test a Republican filibuster. Instead of testing the hypocrisy of climate peacocks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will instead attempt to pass a limited bill with new energy incentives and oil reduction policies next week. The decision was formally made at a meeting of the Senate Democratic caucus today. After the meeting, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), whose efforts to craft comprehensive climate legislation had foundered, focused on the challenge of overcoming a filibuster:
But we’ve always known from day one, that in order to pass comprehensive energy/climate legislation, you’ve got to reach 60 votes, and to reach those 60 votes, you’ve got have some Republicans. And as we stand here today, we do not have one Republican. I think that it’s possible to get there.
Although the top legislative body in the United States of America is yet again failing to defend our nation, the existential threat of global warming continues to worsen, and the coal and oil companies responsible for the pollution continue to reap profits from their rape of the earth. It is the ninth day of the latest 90-plus heat wave to hit Washington DC, part of the global heat wave caused by greenhouse gas pollution. Former vice president Al Gore responded to today’s announcement with a cold reminder of the actual realities the Senate is unable to face:
The need to solve the climate crisis and transition to clean energy has never been more clear. The oil is still washing up on the shores of the Gulf Coast and we’ve just experienced the hottest six months on record. Our troops are fighting and dying in the Middle East and our economy is still struggling to produce jobs. I continue to urge the President to provide leadership on this issue and urge the Senate to make this issue a priority for the remainder of this Congress. Ultimately — and sooner rather than later–these issues simply must be dealt with. Our national security, our economic recovery and the future of the United States of America — and indeed the future of human civilization on this Earth — depends on our country taking leadership. And that, in turn, depends on the United States Senate acting. The truth about the climate crisis—inconvenient as ever—must be faced.
Center for American Progress Action Fund senior fellow Daniel Weiss responds:
The Senate Republican leadership is responsible for the Senate’s inability to reduce global warming pollution. To help their big oil and big coal allies, they bullied many of their senators to avoid talks over a program that would create jobs, reduce oil use, and slash pollution. Due to Republican leaders inaction, China will continue to expand its clean energy industry and jobs, we will spend $1 billion each day on foreign oil, and power plants will spew billions of tons of pollution.
It is up to the Obama administration to promptly comply with the Supreme Court by using EPA’s authority to reduce global warming pollution. The White House must also launch a vigorous defense of that authority in the face of attacks from big oil, big coal, and their congressional allies.
The United States must reduce oil use. The president has taken important steps to do this with the first improvement in fuel economy standards in 20 years. He should continue this process, as well as use all existing tools to speed the development and deployment of electric cars and natural gas trucks.
It is unfortunate that the Republican leaders could stymie action during the hottest month of the hottest year following the hottest decade on record. They are spending too much time in air conditioned special interest fundraisers and not enough outside talking to Americans who want jobs, security, and health protection.
We are pleased that HOMESTAR and natural gas trucks will be part of the oil disaster response bill. Both policies will create jobs and reduce oil use.
Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), John Kerry (D-MA), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) have labored mightily to overcome GOP obstruction. They each deserve credit for devising proposals that create jobs, cut oil use, and slash pollution while protecting families’ wallets.
,”Fundamentally, Rahm and Axelrod simply don’t get global warming,” says Center for American Progress Action Fund senior fellow Joe Romm in a post. At Climate Progress, he responds:
Sens. Reid and Kerry made it official today – the mostly dead climate bill is now extinct. It has passed on! It is is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-CLIMATE BILL!!