Democrats recently elected to the U.S. Senate have pressed their colleagues to ambitiously address climate and energy reform, and are frustrated by the lack of action. In a series of interviews with the Wonk Room at Netroots Nation, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) described the challenges of confronting climate pollution in the sclerotic legislative body, brought to a practical standstill by minority obstruction. They each discussed how the “new class” of 22 Democratic senators elected in the 2006 and 2008 waves (with independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont) have pressed for greater “political clarity” on climate by “rattling all the cages” in the Senate, alongside senior leaders such as Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).
Questioned by the Wonk Room why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) shied away from introducing a comprehensive climate bill for full Senate consideration as energy crises pile up during the hottest summer ever recorded, the senators noted the ability of Republicans to thwart the will of the majority through the abuse of parliamentary procedures. They recognized Reid’s decision to try for quick action with a limited package in what little time is left during this Congress. However, they relished the chance to debate the promise of a green economy before the November elections, seeing the issue as a political winner:
CARDIN: I think we need political clarity. I wasn’t so concerned about having a vote before August. But we needed the clarity of the bill.
FRANKEN: If you want to rev up people, and say Democrats believe in this — one of the gaps they’re talking about is the enthusiasm gap. So maybe, politically, that is the right way to go. I think that Harry tends to want to get half a loaf or a third of a loaf rather than no loaf at all. This bill could be considered a first step. A lot of that is strategic, in terms of positioning yourself for the election. I was sort of of the school that we should go for pricing carbon, and if we lose, we lose. But that’s not what we did.
UDALL: Our two classes — the class of 2006 and the class of 2008 — I think have a real passion for all of the things you talked about and a desire to do something. We’re rattling all the cages in the committees we’re on, doing the things that we can do. But there is kind of an institutional thing going on there that slows everything down. There’s no doubt about that.
MERKLEY: This generational factor is why, if we can create a course that at least puts us on the right track for the next six to eight years, we will have with each subsequent election more and more folks coming in — based on what I hear at the university level, and graduate school level, and based on the difference between our class and the several classes ahead of us — there is just a growing commitment and passion to fighting this fight on climate and energy.
Watch Udall, Merkley, and Franken discuss their efforts to bring new passion to the climate and energy fight:
The Democrats described by Sen. Cardin as the “new class” overwhelmingly support strong green economy legislation, unlike the older generation peppered with climate peacocks. In fact, according to Politico, every one of the 12 Democrats elected in 2008 would vote for cloture on comprehensive climate and energy reform. Of the ten Democrats elected in 2006, only Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) make polluter-friendly arguments against clean energy reform.
“This is going to be a generational battle,” Merkley explained. “We’re going to have keep working and pushing because even our most optimistic bill has fairly weak goals for 2020. We’re going to have to be a lot more aggressive between 2020 and 2050 if we’re going to address carbon dioxide.”
“We can’t give up,” Cardin said during his interview, “because the stakes are too high for our country.”
In contrast to the above senators’ frustration with Republican obstruction, other Democrats want to ensure its continuation. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI, elected in 1990), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 1992), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE, 2000), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR, 2002), and one member of the newer classes, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MO, 2006), want to preserve the 60-vote threshold for all action in the Senate.
This post is part of a Progressive Media blogging series on the fossil fuel-funded Prop 23 effort to repeal California’s clean energy climate law. Read Rebecca Lefton’s posts on Prop 23′s economic impact, national repercussions, and funding from Texas oil companies.
In the California legislature, the loudest voice to kill the landmark clean energy climate change law AB32 has become Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Chico). Described by Sacramento insiders as a “backbencher,” Logue has built a powerful coalition of former tobacco lobbyists and Texan oil companies to orchestrate Prop 23, an initiative to essentially rescind AB 32. But who is Logue?
During an interview earlier this month in Yuba City, California, Logue told the Wonk Room that he thinks that “the issue of global warming is not solved,” referring to climate change as a “scam.” Calling his repeal effort an “epic battle,” Logue claimed that the pro-Prop 23 forces would raise up to $45-50 million:
Climate Change LOGUE: I think the issue of global warming is not solved. I do not think the science has been settled. [...] This is a scam.
How Much Will Prop 23 Raise? LOGUE: But no, it could be up to forty, fifty million a piece. I don’t know if it will get there, but it will be probably the most intense petition drive in the history of the state.
Impacting The National Debate LOGUE: I got a call from the Wall Street Journal, they said if you can stop AB 32 in California, you can save the country.
Wording Of Prop 23 WR: Do you think if it was a full scale repeal, the language would turn some people off?
LOGUE: It would be more difficult to pass.
Logue told us that the Wall Street Journal had encouraged him to push his AB 32 repeal initiative in order to derail national efforts to address climate change. Ironically, the Wonk Room ran into the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund a week after speaking to Logue. Fund told us that he thinks people who deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change are “troglodytes.”
Originally, the initiative to repeal AB 32 was pushed by Ted Costa, a veteran right-wing activist behind many conservative initiatives and head of the group People’s Advocate. In a separate interview, Costa told the Wonk Room that he met privately with Logue, who was “crying that he had a bill to repeal AB 32.” Logue’s bill, AB 118, died in committee, but Costa said he and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) advised Logue to use an initiative to instead rescind California’s clean energy law using provisions concerning the unemployment rate.
To draft the initiative, Costa said he initially worked with California GOP and tobacco lawyer Tom Hiltachk to write the language. But after submitting Costa’s initiative, Hiltachk resubmitted the Prop 23 “California Jobs Initiative” using slightly altered provisions “to get better financial backing.” According to Costa, Hiltachk lied to him, secretly pushing him out so that the money raised for the proposition could be funneled back to Hiltachk and his friends in the “million-dollar consultant” world. Before long, Costa said he received a call from a “high powered lobbyist” to tell him he was out of the process.
Costa told the Wonk Room that he became disgusted when he kept hearing Logue and others involved gleefully discussing the potential of raising $50 million from oil companies and the Chamber of Commerce. Logue believes Costa has “sour grapes” because he did not win the contract to gather signatures. Costa, however, says Logue is “full of shit” and is afflicted with “politician’s disease” for pushing an initiative just to get rich.
NY Mag gives Koch free rein to spread that disinformation, with not a single quote by any scientist disputing it. Of course, if conservatives continue to listen to Koch and the groups funded by him, like the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation — and block all efforts to get off our current emissions path — then we are headed towards very high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which will dramatically reduce the land available to produce food, even as we add another 3 billion mouths to feed (see “Intro to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“).
The rapid growth of wind farms, whose output is hard to schedule reliably or even predict, has the nation’s electricity providers scrambling to develop energy storage to ensure stability and improve profits.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm
Harvard economist Robert Stavins has a good piece, “Beware of Scorched-Earth Strategies in Climate Debates.” In it, he reposts an op-ed co-authored with Dick Schmalensee, who served on President George H.W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, on the self-destructive nature of conservative demagogueing against the very market-based solutions conservatives developed years ago when they actually cared about clean air and clean water and the health and well-being of our children.
And still a victim: I “was demonised and vilified…. life isn’t fair … sometimes you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus”!
Yes, yachting multimillionaire and golden parachuting Tony Hayward, life really sucks for you. Sometimes you get hit by a bus — or at least get a $17 million pension and another high-priced job after the worst CEO performance imaginable — and sometimes your recklessness, arrogance, and hubris causes the death of 11 people, devastates a major ecosystem, and ruins the livelihoods of thousands of people.
You can read a bunch of Hayward’s inane farewell “woe is me, I did a great job but I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time” quotes in the UK’s Guardian‘s piece, “Tony Hayward’s parting shot: ‘I’m too busy to attend Senate hearing’: Oil company risks further damage to US relations with snub to committee and claim it is model of social responsibilty.”
But Hayward isn’t the only deluded person running BP. What follows is a Think Progress repost, “BP chairman: Tony Hayward did a ‘great job,’ ouster was simply to help ‘rebuild’ the BP ‘brand’ “:
CAP’s Josh Dorner has a ThinkProgress review of RGA documents recently filed with the Internal Revenue Service, which reveal a significant portion of last quarter’s haul””more than $2,000,000″”came from oil and gas industry interests, including:
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