A Free Pass for Senate Republicans

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

Armed Forces Publication/Department of Defense Photo

Oil burning in Gulf of Mexico / Photo: Department of Defense

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

–William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”

With the help of Democrats in the White House and the Senate “leadership,” Republicans have killed hope for legislation on climate change, or even meaningful energy efficiency, for this year and probably years to come.

Climate change provisions of the House of Representatives’ H.R. 2454, the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, adopted and sent to the Senate last year, are dead. The President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have decided they don’t have the votes to bring any such bill to the Senate floor that could pass.

Rather than risk the agony of defeat, they have chosen the disgrace of selling out the American people – and, arguably, the entire planet – when it comes to doing anything about climate change.

Selling out? Those are strong words. And justified. Here’s what two recent opinion polls, conducted by three universities, found Americans are thinking.

A June 1-7 poll by Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, found that

three out of four Americans believe the Earth is warming because of human activity, and they want the government to stop it.

Another poll, conducted by Yale and George Mason Universities between May 14, 2009 and June 1, 2010, and released June 8, reported that

61 percent of Americans believe global warming is real (an increase of four points since January) and 50 percent (an increase of three points) believe it is caused mostly by humans.

The numbers don’t match precisely, but both polls show that most Americans now believe in the urgency of addressing climate change, even if it means paying a hefty price.

The Yale study took a broader look at public attitudes toward many environmental issues, and the results show that Americans care deeply about what we are doing to the Earth. Some 77 percent, for example, “support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant,” up 6 percent, and of course that’s the dominant greenhouse gas, so this appears to be strong support for dealing with global warming.

In that same poll, 87 percent support funding more research into renewable energy sources, and 65 percent support signing an international treaty that requires the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by 2050. Again, those are global warming issues.”

Democrats will claim they’re not retreating, just advancing in a different direction.

At a news conference, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, blamed Republicans for refusing to cooperate. “We don’t have a single Republican to work with us,” Mr. Reid said.

Democrats said they would continue to pursue broader climate change legislation.

“This is not the only energy legislation we are going to do,” Mr. Reid said. “This is what we can do now.”

And if not now, when?

Rabbi Hillel, Jewish scholar & theologian (30 BC – 9 AD)

Senate negotiators had dropped measures, one by one, their constituents (but not necessarily their corporate funders) favored, and included some put forth by the few Republicans who coyly suggested they might – but won’t – vote for a bill that included them. There’s a crude term for people who do this. That term might well be applied to the two senators from Maine and one from South Carolina.

Here, according to informed sources, is what Reid will be bringing up for a vote this summer.

  • Reforms to the Department of Interior division charged with overseeing oil and gas development.
  • $5 billion to spur the development of a natural gas truck fleet.
  • $5 billion to fund the Home Star program, which will encourage construction of energy-efficient homes.
  • $5 billion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

So we’ll see no cap on carbon emissions, no standards for renewable energy, no funding for renewable energy, and precious little for energy efficiency. Nothing to stimulate green industries or jobs, either.

At least there won’t be cash incentives for development of nuclear power. And the Environmental Protection Agency won’t undergo castration, as one major proposal would have done.

The Dimocrats have given the Repuglicans a free pass – a Get Out of Jail Free card for the murder of climate change legislation.  [Note that, in the spirit of bipartisan disgust, this writer has changed only one letter in each of the party names.]

Imagine if the roles were reversed, if the GOP was in the majority. They wouldn’t wet their pants at the threat of a filibuster. They’d have forced the issue, even if they couldn’t count high enough to be sure of a win. Then, if they lost, they’d have run ads in the state of every Senator they wanted to see gone, with voice-overs and headlines like these:

Dengue Fever in Florida!
Tornado Warnings in Manhattan!
A Foot of Rain in a Day in Chicago!
All Caused By Global Warming!

Senator Dimwit Voted Against the Law to Eliminate Climate Change!

Vote Against Senator Dimwit!

If you’re angry enough to try one last thing to get the Senate majority to move on climate change and energy conservation, do this:

Click here to sign up with Repower America and pledge to call your senators starting now, as they come back from vacation. In return you’ll get a kit with everything you need to make those two calls.

Maybe, just maybe, if enough of us act we can make it impossible for the Senate to let us down.

If not, it just may be that, in a hundred years or so…

This is the way the world ends
Not with  bang but a whimper

–T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

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4 Responses to “A Free Pass for Senate Republicans”

  1. [...] my post about the Senate’s murder of climate change legislation, I wish you’d do it now, and then come back [...]

  2. Got a link from a friend too. Will do!

  3. [...] couldn’t find the poem with the T.S. Eliot quote for my “Free Pass” essay where I thought it was in my volume of Eliot’s work (one of the few I didn’t [...]

  4. [...] reader of this blog, you know that I’m teed off at the Senate because renewable energy hasn’t gotten anywhere this year. Awright, I say to myself, this article is going to tell half the world’s [...]

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