Friday, February 4, 2011

Warming Up & Playing Defense

More than half of the incoming Republican caucus are "climate zombies" who deny climate change based on a host of disproved myths.  76% of the Republicans in the Senate and 52% of incoming Republicans in the House publicly question the science of global warming.  So, it is not surprising that the G.O.P. has drafted legislation to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  According to the Lisa Jackson, the EPA Administrator, President Obama will veto "any legislation that passed that would take away the EPA’s greenhouse gas authority."

Senate Republicans are pushing an even broader bill that would "not only block the EPA from directly regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, but also [would] prevent federal agencies from considering climate change when implementing statutes such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act."  The Democratic response to this?  Jay Rockefeller, The Hill reports,"seeking traction for a less-aggressive measure, introduced a bill to delay EPA implementation of the emission regulations for two years."

Hendrik Hertzberg has a typically great piece in The New Yorker, Cooling on Warming, in which he discusses the conspicuous absence of references to climate change or global warming in the State of the Union.  (As he pointed out, word clouds created by bloggers omitted these phrases.)  Hetzberg notes that Obama came into office speaking with great urgency about the catastrophic consequences of  failing to combat global warming.  However, as Hertzberg puts it, "the climate bill, like hundreds of others less consequential, met its fate on the legislative terminal ward that is the United States Senate, where bleeding is still the treatment of choice."

The failure to move comprehensive climate change legislation forward has many culprits, including the Obama Administration, which, as Hertzberg states, "botched delicate negotiations in the Senate, were neglectful at key moments, and expended little of the courage, imagination, and resources they brought to health-care reform."  According to Hertzberg, "the demise of 'cap and trade' . . . was the greatest failure of Obama’s first two years."

Hertzberg believes that Obama has not given up on doing something about climate change.  He couched Obama's State of the Union address as "a masterly exercise in rear-guard tactics disguised as visionary optimism," by devoting sections of the speech to “clean-energy technology,” setting a goal of "generating eighty per cent of America’s electricity from “clean-energy sources” by 2035," and calling for the elimination of "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies."

But it sure appears that Obama and his allies in Congress are simply playing defense.  It is time for offense.  As Hertzberg concludes:  "Mother Nature is growing impatient, and she has a hot temper."

[Related posts: Convenient Ignorance From Climate Zombies]


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