At Netroots Nation 2009 in Pittsburgh, PA, Rep. Jay Insleee (D-WA) decried the “undemocratic” filibusters that allow a small minority of senators to thwart majority rule and President Obama’s clean energy reform agenda. In a panel on restoring U.S. environmental leadership, Inslee told the audience of progressive bloggers what he believes allows the monied advocates of the status quo to block progressive change:
The filibuster is so undemocratic it just defies defense. Particularly, as you said, it used to be this once-in-a-generation regional conflict issue that’s meant to protect the regions that has now prevented majority rule in this country. It’s a huge, insidious problem. I have to tell you in my conversations with senators, including in our party, I’ve gotten nowhere on this issue. When they get into that fine institution, they kind of like the idea one person can stop the entire country dead on its heels to keep a post office open in Schmuckbucket or wherever. I have to tell you, I’m very frustrated by it.
Inslee later warned that the “Exxons of the world” are going to “strangle this [effort] in its crib” with their millions of dollars if climate and clean energy activists don’t start fighting. Speakers at this and other Netroots Nation panels on climate legislation and clean energy reform discussed how conservative Democrats who fear clean energy reform hold the balance of power in the Senate. Last year, conservative Democrats such as Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) filibustered the Lieberman-Warner climate legislation, protecting local coal and oil interests. This year, armed with the filibuster, these senators hold the fate of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act in their hands.