Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Climate Crash?

Going into 2009, there will be many changes in U.S. climate policy.  That is welcome news.  What is NOT welcome news is that so far, many of these changes seem to be driving the issue right off another ideological cliff - only this time, a liberal one.

I'm the first to admit that Republicans, by and large, have mishandled the climate issue in particular and the issue of the environment in general.  But just because one party is behaving badly does not by ANY means indicate that the other party is "good" on the issue.  

I had hoped that the Obama message of "change" would mean a break in the partisan way of doing business, but it is shaping up to look like that, unfortunately, will not be the case with climate change.  

Looking at the new leadership in the influential House Commerce & Energy Committee as well as the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, we can get a glimpse of the new desired approach - one that caters almost exclusively to the most strident environmental groups desire to "punish industry".  It remains to be seen whether the Obama environment/climate appointments will also follow in this path -- one that will guarantee no bill passes through a still mostly divided Congress (on this issue at least), or whether they chart a brave direction toward bi-partisanship and compromise -- the ONLY way anything EVER passes through the U.S. legislative process.

I hope for the best, but would alert people following this issue to the need to impress on the new leaders the dangers -- TO THE ENVIRONMENT of giving in to the feel good approach of partisan idealism.  We are rapidly running out of time to get started on a climate regime that will allow us to reduce emissions by the needed levels to avoid irreversible affects on our planet.  We can not afford to waste another 2 years - this time by sounding good and getting nothing done.

I would also alert those who have been less engaged than they should have been on this issue for many years -- WAKE UP!  The window is rapidly closing on the ability to get sound policy that is sustainable for both the economy and the environment.  

The only test for the next Congress on this issue -- is what they get DONE - NOT what is proposed and how much grandstanding occurs.  In the end, that's just more hot air emissions.

Below is a story from the Wall Street Journal discussing some of the inside baseball changes happening -- and proof of what I'm referring to.

At the end of the day, members who represent coal states and oil states and car states -- will need to see a climate plan that is a pragmatic, steady transition toward a carbon constrained economy -- regardless of whether there is a D or an R behind their name.  The sooner we all realize this reality and work with it, the faster we can get started saving the planet . . . and ourselves.

The Climate Purge

Coup d'etat at the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Henry Waxman moved to consolidate his coup d'etat at the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee just hours after he was installed as the new chairman this week. It appears that the California liberal, with his customary subtlety, is plotting a night of the climate-change long knives.

[Bart Stupak]

Democrats dumped the current Chairman John Dingell because he does not favor global-warming action aggressive enough to suit the party's green wing. Now his lieutenants, who've been known to share his views, are targets too. Gene Green, an oil-patch Democrat who chairs the subcommittee on environmental issues, sent out a panicked Dear Colleague letter that called for "healing" and volunteered that he has enjoyed working "with Chairman Waxman on a number of other issues and I would hope to continue it."

Then Bart Stupak -- Mr. Dingell's chief deputy, head of the investigations subcommittee and resident FDA demagogue -- chimed in that he, too, looks forward to carrying on "the important work Chairman Dingell and I began."

But the Dingell ally who should be looking over his shoulder most nervously is Rick Boucher, chairman of the energy subcommittee. Mr. Boucher has been a friend to the coal industry and hardly finds himself in a comfortable position now when his incoming boss supports a moratorium on coal-fired power. Mr. Boucher's likely replacement is Ed Markey, Nancy Pelosi's climate-change point man, now head of the telecom subcommittee. In a fit of anti-Dingell pique, Speaker Pelosi last year stripped Mr. Dingell of jurisdiction over climate change, giving the portfolio to a special panel run by Mr. Markey. Never mind that the new panel, under House rules, lacks the power to mark up legislation. Mr. Dingell called the committee "as useless as feathers on a fish" and "an embarrassment to everybody."

No doubt Mr. Dingell's comments were among the many sins he's now paying for. Soon taxpayers will be paying a stiff price too if Mr. Waxman and company succeed in their plans to use federal money to subsidize all kinds of "green" energy interest groups.