Monday, July 5, 2010

Climate Peacocks

Like deficit peacocks who pretend to be hawkish on budgets but refuse any real solution, climate peacocks are politicians who strut with fine words about science, energy reform, and the environment, but reject solutions to the threat of climate change. "Climate peacocks like to preen and call attention to themselves with flashy moves," Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Joe Romm writes, "but they are not sincerely interested in taking the difficult but necessary steps toward reducing carbon pollution." With the greatest oil disaster in United States history destroying the Gulf of Mexico and the hottest year on record killing Americans with extreme heat waves and freak storms, now would seem to be the time for the Senate to end its allegiance to fossil fuels. Some senators, like James Inhofe (R-OK) and John Barrasso (R-WY), simply deny the threat of man-made global warming and defend the oil and coal companies who fill their campaign coffers. Unlike these true obstructionists, the climate peacocks hypocritically profess to be concerned and say that the Congress should act -- but somehow find fault in any solution offered. "The line from most of these folks is that they want Congress, rather than the [Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)], to take the lead on global warming," the New Republic's Brad Plumer writes. "Trouble is, many of them won't vote for a climate bill, either."

PEACOCKS STRUT AND OBSTRUCT:  In June, 47 senators -- every Republican and six Democrats -- voted for climate peacock Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) resolution to overturn the EPA's scientific global warming endangerment finding, finalized after years of delay in following a Supreme Court mandate to obey the language of the Clean Air Act. Twenty-one of Murkowski's supporters were climate peacocks, claiming they voted to reject science in order to preserve the balance of power between the legislative and executive branch. "This is an issue that deserves a full debate in Congress," crowed Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). "Controlling the levels of carbon emissions is the job of Congress," cried Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). They said that they had to overturn the EPA's scientific finding because setting pollution limits should instead be the job of the elected members of Congress. "It is Congress -- and not unelected bureaucrats," said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), "that should be responsible for developing environmental policies that integrate our nation's economic well-being as an urgent priority along with the reduction of carbon emissions." Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) even said he voted for Murkowski to "ensure that Congress keeps its responsibility to establish our nation's environmental regulations."
CALLING THE PEACOCKS' BLUFF: Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is giving obstructionist senators a chance to finally take action on climate and clean energy, after they attempted to block the EPA from doing so. After holding a "thrilling"climate caucus with his members last week, the Democratic majority leader plans to bring an "impenetrable" comprehensive package of legislation to repair the damage caused by fossil fuels to our economy and our planet. Reid is now calling the bluff of these 21 "responsible" senators, who will be proven to be fossil-fueled hypocrites if they fail to support policies that bring the swift reduction of carbon pollution that science demands. However, these peacocks are shameless. Senators like Murkowski, Brown, Richard Lugar (R-IN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and John McCain (R-AZ) have all supported economy-wide cap-and-trade legislation to set a price on carbon in the past. But now that there is a President, a House of Representatives, and a Senate Majority Leader in support of such policies, these climate peacocks now support "alternatives to comprehensive climate legislation [that] would not only do little to control carbon emissions, but also would cost more."
OBAMA RUFFLES THE PEACOCKS: On Tuesday, President Obama met at the White House with "a bipartisan group of senators to discuss passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year." The 23 attendees included several climate peacocks, but not Graham, who said last year that "the green economy is coming," and told administration officials in May, "I'm in this to win." After the meeting, Snowe offered support for a "carbon pricing program" on the power sector, but other Republican peacocks rejected Obama's call for a price on carbon pollution, repeating the Newt Gingrich lie that it would be a "national energy tax." "As long as we take a national energy tax off the table," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), "there's no reason we can't have clean energy legislation." "A cap-and-trade energy tax will not sell at this time," Murkowski pontificated. "We've got to find a path that does not put an added burden on American taxpayers." These senators know they're lying when they equate greenhouse gas pollution with "energy." Their states are being ravaged by our overheated climate system, including the freak flooding of Nashville and the melting of Alaska's tundra. Right now, American taxpayers are paying the costs of fossil fuel pollution -- the destruction of our health, our oceans, and our climate -- while corporate polluters like oil giant BP rake in the profits.

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