A true American hero, Tom Perriello (D-VA), on Waxman-Markey: The Republicans may win some seats because of this vote, but they cant regain their souls for demagoguing the issue.

There’s got to be something more important than getting reelected,” Perriello said in an interview with POLITICO. “If I lose my seat, and that’s the worst that happens, I could live with that.”

But the 34-year-old believes Democrats will win this fight.

“This is a gift,” Perriello said of the vote. “For the first time in a generation, we have the chance to redefine our energy economy. “¦This is a great moment for us.”

[Some people have asked me how they could help Members who are being targeted for their vote on Waxman-Markey.  The EDF Fund (click here) has started running “Thank You” ads like the one above.  There’s always the League of Conservation Voters.  And you can learn more about Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) by clicking here.]

The Politico has a good profile of Rep. Perriello:  “Climate vote threatens some Democrats’ careers.”  Sadly, the conservatives are so desperate to stop any national move toward clean energy and climate action, they are going after all vulnerable members who voted to give future generations a chance at sustainable prosperity:

The opening quotes from Perriello make clear that he understands the health and well-being of the next 50 generations is more important than short-term political considerations.  At the same time, he gets that the future is clean energy, even in Southern Virginia.  So “rather than ducking the issue, he’s embracing what may have been the toughest vote of his young political career.”  Here is the powerful statement he released on the vote:

Click here to hear audio of Rep. Perriello talking about this legislation.

Today we declare America’s energy independence and provide a blueprint for building the energy jobs and technology of the future right here at home. America can still out-innovate any other country on earth, and we cannot give in to those who doubt America’s ability to lead once more. Perhaps once in a generation we have the opportunity to revolutionize our economy in a way that creates for future generations the kind of jobs and opportunities that we inherited through the sacrifices of our parents. Today we reverse not only the hemorrhaging of energy sector jobs, but also the flood of our citizens’ dollars to those who would threaten our security.

Freedom isn’t free. Since September 11th our leaders have asked everything of our military families and very little of the rest of us. This bill is estimated to cost families approximately $12 per month — a cost that could be offset by any household that reduces its energy. Therefore, families can choose to sacrifice $12 per month for national security or adjust the thermostat one degree. Have no doubt that clean energy will be the industry of our time. Investing in that industry now is what will put our country back on top over the next decade. If I have to choose between protecting our nation or protecting my popularity, I will choose our great Nation every time.

Southside Virginia will be one of the winners under this bill, accelerating its ascendance to being the future energy capital of Virginia. In a carbon-constrained economy, we will see a resurgence of nuclear power. We can convert former tobacco farms into future biomass producers. And we can see farm and municipal waste turned into power. This bill, particularly the elements those of us from rural districts negotiated, will spur investments in biomass fuels that can flourish on former tobacco farms.  We can convert manure on our cattle and poultry farms into power and finally get some profits back to our hard-working farmers. We will not turn this economy around by hiding from our problems, but by having the courage to reinvent our competitive advantage.

Today is a vote for America over petro-dictators. It is a vote for innovation over the erosion of our jobs. It is vote for demanding American leadership rather than settling for a slow slide behind India, China and other competitors. A vote against this bill is a vote to weaken this country, put our people at risk, and sit on the sidelines while we hemorrhage jobs. A vote for this bill is a vote for America’s security, her innovative spirit, good jobs for our citizens, and the future of our country.


How will the vote play in his district?  The Politico reports:

It’s unclear whether voters in this part of Virginia, where tobacco farms are shrinking, textile mills have shut down and unemployment remains well above the national average, will embrace Perriello’s optimism about green jobs and cap and trade.  Like many Democrats from Republican-leaning districts, Perriello is back home this week defending what may be a game-changing vote with consequences for 2010.

Perriello is one of the top targets in a national barrage of attack ads by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has paid for a rare off-year television ad campaign against Perriello and launched radio ads and automated phone calls against a handful of his fellow Democrats.

But Republican confidence may be a little premature.

“This is an issue that is very dependent on the overall state of the economy,” said Larry Sabato, who runs The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, in an e-mail. “If the economy continues to be bad through 2010, then voters are more likely to give credence to the GOP charges.”

However, “if the economy improves,” Sabato continued, “voters won’t find the attacks credible. Really, how is anybody “” even a professional economist “” to know exactly what the effect of this bill will be? It’s so entangled with the rest of the economy.”

Indeed, the legislation doesn’t even have a direct impact on the barometer most Americans use to gauge the cost of energy “” the price of gasoline.

“What’s going to increase the price of energy more?” asks E. Linwood Wright, an economic development consultant with the city of Danville, Va., in Perriello’s district. “The things in this bill? Or crude oil going back to $150-a-barrel?”

Indeed, Sabato seems somewhat unaware that the cap doesn’t even kick in until 2012, so other than in falsehood-filled Republican attack ads, you won’t see many people making the case that this bill has somehow hurt the economy in 2010.  Indeed, the reverse may be true as Nobelist Paul Krugman explained:  Climate action “now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump” by giving “businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities.”

And how can you not love this guy:

The Republicans may win some seats because of this vote, but they can’t regain their souls for demagoguing the issue,” Perriello said.

As a candidate, Perriello broke the mold in ways, by taking Democratic stands in a decidedly Republican district. He seems to have retained that confidence coming out of the election and wants to help Obama be bold “” even in south central Virginia.

“People are sick of cowardice,” Perriello said. “It’s not the easy votes, it’s the hard votes.”

Tom Perriello is a true American hero battling the soul-less opponents of climate and clean energy action.

19 Responses to A true American hero, Tom Perriello (D-VA), on Waxman-Markey: The Republicans may win some seats because of this vote, but they cant regain their souls for demagoguing the issue.

  1. paulm says:

    Its the young ones that see the light first.

  2. pete best says:

    Its a shame that politics is so polarised in the USA, it looks quite bad from a European perspective. Even if the bill gets through and is enacted, if and when a republican president gets back into power it could all be undone could it not.

    How and why has USA politics got to the point where you seemingly have one side who seems to be lying to the other side, one side who holds the value of science quite high and the other who is anti science in many ways? How is it that the right is so well organised in the USA.

  3. Lisa says:

    So if he’s willing to lose his seat, why not lose his seat for a bill that does something more than give money to big corporations? This bill with all its offsets and allowances doesn’t reduce emissions. They could just let the EPA make an endangerment finding and reduce emissions now, not in 50 years maybe.

    [JR: Nice try, but the EPA endangerment finding can’t “reduce emissions now” or even 5 years from now — and it is entirely possible it might not reduce emissions in 10 years.]

  4. paulm says:

    Preparing for a Sea Change

    The rapid melting of the Arctic ice sheet at the North Pole will bring “revolutionary new transport possibilities between the Atlantic and the Pacific,”

    The U.S. Navy established its own Task Force on Climate Change this year to draw up a “road map” for adapting force structure and operations to the coming creation of new Arctic sea lanes and other environmental changes.

  5. Omega Centauri says:

    pete best: I think the us right is so well organized because it has lots of money. Rich businessmen leave fortunes to the right-wing propaganda mills, such as the American Enterprise Institute. These origanizations claim to be doing research, but prepare political propaganda. Right wing organizations recieve frequent strategy and talking point instructions from these organizations.

  6. paulm says:

    Biden: “We Misread How Bad The Economy Was”

    The guy is one of the best things we could have for tackling the CO2 emissions by keeping the recession going!

  7. paulm says:

    Promising solution, but it is not going to stop devastating sea level rise which is coming whatever….

    Just add lime (to the sea) – the latest plan to cut CO2 emissions

  8. jcwinnie says:

    “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” Thomas Paine, famous past Virginian.

    As soon as Dave Massey makes enough money to be happy, Tom, and, then we’ll have Clean Coal.

  9. Yuebing says:

    Pete Best wrote: “Even if the bill gets through and is enacted, if and when a republican president gets back into power it could all be undone could it not.”

    ACES will move the American economy to a more efficient stance. Paid for by CO2 emitters. Cost neutral or cost positive. That is my view on the bill.

    Yes it could be undone. Suggestions?

    Mine would be to inform the American public on why efficiency improves our lives, and lessens our impact on our world.

  10. Will Koroluk says:

    You folks are lucky to have courageous young politicians like Perriello (and Obama, too, of course). Sure, they have an uphill fight to do something about climate change. Here in Canada it’s a subject that has dropped way below the horizon for most people. The subject has only been mentioned once or twice since there was an abrupt change of editor-in-chief of our most influential daily paper. As for our politicians, nothing. Those in power won’t do anything until they’re dragged kicking and screaming along behind you folks. In the meantime, they and their main opponents are doing everything they can to curry favour with the oil industry, with repeated assurances that they have no intention of doing anything substantial to clean up the tar sands act.

  11. Jim Beacon says:

    Yes, much of the little that ACES may accomplish could be undone if the Republicans take back control of the Congress. Taking back the White House would hurt, but not be the undoing of Waxman-Markey if the Congress stayed out of total Republican control. The Congress makes and passes the laws. Of course, a president can veto a new law by refusing to sign it, but it is very hard for him to undo a law that was in existence before he took office without the strong backing of Congress).

    Actually, this sort of “undoing” is possible in *any* democracy — that’s the nature of the beast. The reason we have such a see-saw situation in the U.S. is because our voting populace is so evenly split between the two polarized factions with precious few moderates and genuine “independents” who might vote either way to make much of a difference in negotiations and national elections.

    The only long-term hope is that the biggest block of Republican voters are elderly people who are living out their last years right now. If the Republicans don’t figure out a way to sucker in some younger voters soon, the balance will tilt in favor of the progressive Democrats going forward.

    I think the really big story has been missed — that of the 44 Democrats who voted *against* Waxman-Markey. That is the most troubling event of recent weeks in this country as far as I’m concerned. Yet you don’t hear the Democrats screaming for the blood of those 44 the way you hear the Republicans crying out to lynch the 8 members of their own party who voted for Waxman-Markey.

    That is just another example of the fundamental difference in the mindsets of the fascist right and the progressive left in this country. Unfortunately it is the reason the right has been winning more often than they have been losing over the past 30 years, because most Democrats aren’t willing to be real dirty street fighters the way they are.

    [JR: Well, Pelosi gave those 44 a pass once it’s clear their votes were needed. That is NOT how I would have done it — I would have tried to run up a bigger margin. But then I don’t have to run for office in this brutal political environment.]

  12. Jwilli says:

    What Tom Perriello is doing is a great thing! This is a big battle to fight. However, it is not impossible. For Perriello to put the issue before his career let’s me know that he is passionate about this issue, and his initiative to redefine the energy economy is truly genuine! Some politicians may say things just to get votes, but Perriello’s bold statement that a vote is a gift and the issue is greater than winning reelection…makes him a trustworthy politician to me!!!

  13. Lisa says:

    This bill doesn’t do anything in 10 years. Having the EPA’s endangerment finding lets it place emissions controls on every carbon output now. It can reduce emissions from cars and power plants and factories at once. I don’t know if it has the power to put a tariff on foreign CO2 sources, but beyond that it can lead America towards real reductions now, and not the sdham reductions in Waxman-Markey.

    [JR: Wrong on both counts. This bill almost certainly will cut U.S. coal use by at least 20% by 2020. The endangerment finding most certainly does NOT let it place emissions control on every carbon output now. It does allow the EPA to require reduced emissions from new sources, but trying to regulate existing sources would take many many years, which would certainly be followed by many many more years of litigation. Indeed, some states could probably delay the process for a very long time, given how the CAA is written. The first Republican president could stop the entire process. Also, failure of Waxman-Markey would be the end of the international negotiations, and thus it would be quite irrelevant what EPA did at that point.]

  14. Lisa says:

    You’d have a point if Waxman Markey were a real bill that reduced emissions. As it is, I’d rather go with the EPA that has reduced emissions in the past, than with this payoff to utilities.

    [JR: You’d have a point of EPA were given the authority by Congress to reduce emissions, as it has in the past (and as this bill does). As it is, the allocation of allowances to utilities has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability of this bill to cut emissions. You are aware that under the wildly successful acid rain program, 97% of the allowances were given to utilities.]

  15. Lisa says:

    The Clean Air Act empowers the EPA, and the endangerment finding allows the EPA to use their Clean Air Act authority with regards to CO2. Waxman Markey would override the EPAs authority here.

    [JR: The CAA actually gives only limited authority to be EPA under the endangerment finding. Again, you can choose to live in an imaginary world where Obama can use the EPA to quickly put in place a sharply shrinking CO2 cap — but that is a pure fantasy. If W-M fails, the international community will realize that the US is not capable of agreeing to even modest reductions and that will be pretty much the end of that.]

    You wrote about how this bill could be better earlier this year. Since then the bill has gotten worse with all the payoffs to get votes.

    [JR: Not sure what exactly “payoffs” you are talking about, but in any case, “payoffs” as you call them, have little impact on the environmental outcomes of the bill.]

  16. Lisa says:

    50 million for a hurricane research center, exemptions for a district’s biggest industry, or company.

  17. Lisa says:

    If they get rid of what you call ‘rip-offsets’ then maybe this bill will be worth it.

    [JR: As I’ve blogged, I doubt politically they could reduce the rip-offset limit below the relatively modest amount that are actually likely to be purchased. I would like to sunset the rip-offsets. But other than that, I would focus my efforts on more important things, like making sure the Senate retains the energy efficiency provisions, toughening up the renewable standards, keeping the 2020 target as strong as possible….]

  18. ChaO says:

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