Darrell Issa (R-CA) slams ‘failed’ GOP energy policy

We are more dependent on imported energy. We are no cleaner in energy substantially than we were a generation ago because clean is not a percentage, clean is an absolute term. Our geography has more coal being burned than it did a generation ago. It has more natural gas being burned than it did a generation ago. So even though we’ve increased a few renewables, the absolute consumption of carbon fuel is up not down and more of it is imported.”

That’s Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), from an E&E Daily interview (subs. req’d), in one of the most disingenuous statements ever uttered by a politician on energy.  The story’s headline, “Issa calls DOE a ‘failed agency’,” utterly misses the point.

Issa, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, isn’t condemning the DOE.  Issa is condemning his fellow Republicans, who have for three decades strongly opposed policies that would address each and every one of those problems — most of which are actually the primary responsibility of agencies other than DOE.

First, on the energy side, the DOE is mostly a technology development agency.  Yes, Jimmy Carter had vastly increased spending on technology development and deployment, but President Reagan eliminated the deployment tax credits for wind and solar and gutted overall spending 70% to 90% (see “Who got us in this energy mess? Start with Ronald Reagan“).

I spent 5 years at the DOE in the 1990s.  We started to increase funding for technology deployment, but the Gingrich Congress stopped and reversed that trend.  They tried to shut down the entire department and kill all clean energy R&D, but we were able to beat that back and protect the R&D.

The Bush Administration talked a great game about technology investments and how the solution to all of our problems was technology breakthroughs, but it was all just talk (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah”).  In fact, Bush waged a stealth war against all technology deployment programs in clean energy, gutting many of the best ones.  The only program be significantly increased was the wildly overhyped hydrogen fuel cell program, which are a dead end from a technological, practical, and climate perspective.

Bush had many willing accomplices in his own party. Even “moderate” conservatives like John McCain and Judd Gregg opposed the kind of funding and incentives that countries like Japan and Germany embraced.

Obama goosed some deployment programs with the stimulus, but only Congress can change the long-term funding profile for the Department.

Fundamentally, like most people, Issa doesn’t really know what DOE does, even on the energy side, which is only a small part of the mission of a department that runs the nuclear weapons labs and the nation’s major physics labs and the cleanup of the nuclear weapons facilities.

The vast majority of imported energy is, of course, oil.  The primary strategy for addressing oil is in the transportation sector, through stronger automobile fuel efficiency standards, which are not under DOE’s control and which, needless to say, Republicans have opposed for three decades.  Another key strategy is alternative fuels including electric vehicles, which, in general, Republicans have opposed.  Finally, a third strategy is increased funding for public transit and trains, which, again, aren’t under DOE’s control and which Republicans have steadfastly opposed.

DOE is not the primary agency responsible for making energy cleaner in absolute terms.  That would be the EPA, whose efforts in this area Issa and the Republicans want to stop entirely!

It is laughable for Issa to whine that renewables have only increased a little bit while the absolute consumption of carbon fuel is up — when Republicans have steadfastly opposed any renewable energy standard and just killed a bill that would have placed a shrinking cap on carbon emissions!

Issa said there are several questions that need to be answered about the performance of DOE. “Can you [DOE] meet the most essential mandate — the sufficiency safety, and cleanliness as part of their mandate of energy? You could but you’re not,” he said.

Seriously!  And this guy is in charge of House Oversight and Government Reform.

I hope that Issa doesn’t actually believe the nonsense he is saying, but it would have been good if the reporter had pushed him on it to find out.

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17 Responses to Darrell Issa (R-CA) slams ‘failed’ GOP energy policy

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    Somewhat related “RUMORS”

    Report: Issa ‘passionate’ about climate probe

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    Great News, Great Article!

    Climate Change is not a problem which is up for political decisions. Climate Change is pure science and needs science to tackle this historic threat.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    Issa said “…meet the most essential mandate — the sufficiency safety, and cleanliness…”

    Yes, it is of utmost essential, to have sufficient safety precautions/cleanliness (Precious Fluids), i.e. “Clean Tech”, in order to counter the threat of Climate Change.

  4. Leif says:

    OT? “Heads up” weather observation:

    “Huge Intense Storm in the Pacific
    Sometimes you have to stand back and be amazed by what goes on in the Pacific. Take a look at the Pacific surface analysis for earlier today:”

  5. J Bowers says:

    Yep, we’re screwed!

    ExxonMobil warns carbon emissions will rise by 25% in 20 years

    The projections by Exxon scientists are gloomier than anything publicly expressed by governments and scientists, who maintain that global emissions can be reduced significantly and catastrophic climate change be averted if action is taken for them to reach their “peak” in the next 10 years.

    According to the UK Met Office, if emissions rises can be stopped by 2020 and then be made to reduce by 1-2% a year, the planet could be expected to warm 2.1C to 3.7C this century, with the rise continuing even higher after 2100.

  6. Jeffrey Davis says:

    The Little Red Book of Politics by Karl Rove

    1) Attack your opponent’s weakness from your strength
    2) Accuse your opponent of doing what you’re doing.
    3) Be worse than anyone can imagine.

    Issa’s remarks are insanely, bitterly funny — a fox browbeating the chicken for tasting too good.

    They’re pure Rovian crapola.

  7. Joe, you miss Issa’s main point.

    Issa’s main point is very simple: that Obama is the Antichrist. The rest of the interview is just Issa working backwards from this main point.


  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m always intrigued by the ferocity of Rightwing opposition to public transport. Most civilized places I’ve been have extensive, cheap and efficient metros, bus services and trams in some combination, and walking is easy and mostly unthreatened by cars. I like to think of myself as a bit of a flaneur, like one of my heroes, Sviatoslav Richter, the Soviet pianist, who was once picked up by the wallopers when he tried to walk around downtown Los Angeles.I used to enjoy ‘racking off’ school to explore Sydney on foot, before they razed all the interesting bits and put skyscrapers and ‘freeways’ in their place. The Right, however, prefers the individual anonymity and separateness of the private car, and won’t be resisted. I remember well a young Thatcherite brought out from the UK in the glory days of the 1980s, to preach the ineffable virtues of the Holy Free Market, intoning, solemnly, on the radio, ‘Public transport is Stalinism’. I, being a fool, thought that he was joking.

  9. Hawaii IPL says:

    It’s not that Obama is the anti-Christ, it’s that his policies will lead to total collapse of the American way of life. When I was in college, the running joke of the debate team was that a good debater could create an argument whereby any policy position would inevitably lead to global nuclear war.

  10. Hawaii IPL says:

    What I don’t understand about department heads is why they take the abuse of clueless Representatives in hearings and don’t call them out for their disingenuous and deliberately misleading accusations. That would make for some good C-SPAN (and Congressional news stories) if a smart, confident department spokesperson pointed out these ridiculous falsehoods, refused to answer such asinine questions, and took the members to task for bad-mouthing the department in public.

  11. Mimikatz says:

    Simple. Congress is the legislative branch. It has power over the purse. It can defund an agency or strip it of its powers.

  12. Leif says:

    Alaska Coast Guard reports an unusual number of “ships seeking shelter.”

    Ref. comment #4, Leif.

  13. Chris Winter says:

    This blog regarding Darrell Issa is worth some time.

    Pay special attention to the two entries for 18 January…


  14. Colin Caissie says:

    One Percent Doctrine? When will the nation/globe formulate and observe the Climate Change version of the famous one percent doctrine? Because of the potential immense negative impact, even a small probability must be treated as a certainty. And it’s not even a small probability.

  15. John McCormick says:

    RE # 10

    Hawaii IPL, a great comment and one I’ve suggested several times here.

    Take an hour out of your day and email your comment to Department Secretaries of Energy and Commerce and to EPA Admin Lisa Jackson. You’ll find addresses if you look for them.

    Talking back should be marching orders for any honest witness going before a House Committee. Throw it back in their faces and yell if they have to. Worst case is they will get high blood pressure but they will be seen by the public as willing to taken on the clowns.

    John McCormick

  16. John McCormick says:

    Here’s a retort, I’d save for a witness being battered by lies and lunacy:

    Mr. Chairman, I’ll give you the worst case scenario regarding increasing global warming and our refusal to take appropriate action.

    I quote a famous observer of American society:

    “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

    -Woody Allen

    The deniers must be ridiculed in public.

    John McCormick