Serious climate action or a significant increase in federal clean energy funding all but dead for foreseeable future
It looks like the new Speaker of the House will be John Boehner, the man who said, “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”
Ironically very few races were decided by climate and clean energy outside of California, which embraced the strongest possible action to reduce pollution. And poll after poll makes clear the public as a whole supports strong action. And the overwhelming scientific understanding that unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases poses a grave threat to the health and well-being of our children and countless future generations grow stronger every year (see “An illustrated guide to the latest climate science“). But the economy and the President’s dreadful messaging, coupled with a staggering amount of money from Big Oil and the corporate polluters, swept in countless pro-pollution conservatives in the House.
There will be no post-partisan energy policy (see “Brookings embraces American Enterprise Institute’s climate head fake along with right-wing energy myths“). I was at the US Department of Energy the last time the right-wing seized control of the House, under Newt Gingrich.
We had started a process of increasing the budget for clean energy over the past two years, much as Obama and Chu have — and immediately Gingrich and his pro-pollution extremists tried to shut down the department and zero out all applied energy R&D. We fought back as hard as we could, and basically held them to a draw.
My 1996 cover story in the Atlantic Monthly “” published when I was principal deputy assistant secretary of energy (coauthored with the Deputy Secretary) “” “MidEast Oil Forever?” Drifting Toward Disaster was subtitled:
Congressional budget-cutters threaten to end America’s leadership in new energy technologies that could generate hundreds of thousands of high-wage jobs, reduce damage to the environment, and limit our costly, dangerous dependency on oil from the unstable Persian Gulf region.
The right-wing anti-science extremists don’t care about American leadership in the biggest job creating sector of the economy, they don’t care about reducing damage to the environment, and while they give lip service to reducing oil dependency, they are bought and paid for by Big Oil, which has no interest whatsoever in ending our addiction to oil from any source.
Beyond the assault on clean energy funding, you can expect an effort to block EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and subpoenas/hearings aimed at harassing climate scientists (see Mann slams Cuccinelli, Sensenbrenner, Issa: “My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public. They are hurting American science”).
And you can expect more polluter-funded disinformation across-the-board (see “GOP group staffed by Marc Morano pays Fox affiliates to influence election with anti-Obama hate speech“).
Given how grim things are for climate hawks, perhaps it’s time for an inspirational video:
As Captain Picard says, “A line must be drawn here. This far — and no further!”
The top image is COPYRIGHT 2010-3010 (c) Daniel Halevi Bloom, creative commons.
This post has been updated.
- Washington Post: “There isn’t a single Republican leader, in Congress or among the party’s 2012 hopefuls, who has the power to disobey an order from Beck – or Rush Limbaugh, O’Reilly or Hannity.”
- GOP leaders tell Obama: There will be “No Compromise”