We all know the Bush administration’s record on global warming. It’s been a strategy of denial, delay and obfuscation. Only Exxon, its well funded “skeptics” and the most “Red Meat” Republicans continue to deny that global warming is being driven by carbon emissions from human sources: automobiles, industrial plants and electrical utilities which burn fossil fuels like oil and coal. Meanwhile, even with control of the Congress back in Democratic hands, the only legislation being proposed is the corporate friendly Lieberman-Warner bill, which, even if it makes it out of the Senate and the House in one form or another, is likely to be vetoed by President Bush.
Thus, it’s not surprising that the nation’s governors, both Democrats and Republicans, have decided to take matters into their own hands, rather than wait for a feckless Democratic Congress or the decidedly pro-polluter/anti-environment Bush administration (via The New York Times):
Frustrated with the slow progress of energy and global warming legislation in Washington, the nation’s governors have created regional agreements to cap greenhouse gases and are engaged in a concerted lobbying effort to prod Congress to act.
Beginning Monday, three Western governors will appear in a nationwide television advertising campaign sponsored by an environmental group trying to generate public and political support for the climate change legislation now before the Senate.
The 30-second a features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican of California; Jon Huntsman Jr., Republican of Utah; and Brian Schweitzer, Democrat of Montana, standing in casual clothes in scenic locations talking about the threat posed by greenhouse gas emissions. The nation’s governors are acting, but Congress is not, they say. “Now it’s their turn,” Mr. Schwarzenegger says.
Separately, in Milwaukee on Wednesday, nine Midwestern governors and the premier of Manitoba signed an agreement to reduce carbon emissions and set up a trading system to meet the reduction targets. The Midwestern accord is modeled on similar regional carbon-reduction and energy-saving arrangements among Northeastern, Southwestern and West Coast states.
Let me be blunt. These proposed regional agreements are just as flawed as the Lieberman/Warner bill, in that they don’t go far enough to move our country away from its addiction to carbon based fuels. But the fact that both Republican and Democratic governors felt the need to take any action at all is a very damning slap in the face for Congress and the President. Clearly, the governors are more in touch with both the science of global climate change and with the views of voters, the vast majority of whom recognize that global warming is real and it is having serious consequences right now. Indeed, severe droughts, more intense wildfires, warmer falls and winters and more severe storms (like the two Category 5 hurricanes which hit Mexico, the Caribbean and Nicaragua this year) have wreaked havoc at the state and local level this year. Of course, all of these consequences were predicted by current models of global climate change, but not even climate scientists expected that such severe effects would begin occurring so soon.
The one good thing you can say about the governors’ attempts to develop their own regional “cap and trade” programs is that they recognize the political climate is changing as rapidly as the earth’s climate, and unless they want to become political dinosaurs politicians will need to get out in front of the issue with real proposals and plans to both limit current carbon emissions and encourage the development of renewable energy technologies. Now if we could just get national Democrats to recognize that this is an issue for which they should be out front pushing the debate in Congress and in the media, rather than placing it on the back burner.
The [Lieberman-Warner] bill is now before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee’s chairwoman, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, said she hoped to bring to bill to a vote of the full committee by Dec. 6. There is no schedule for action after that. […]
Governor Schweitzer [D-MT] said dealing with global warming was the “greatest imperative” of this and future generations. “We need to find a sustainable, renewable American energy supply so we will not commit the next generation to fight another oil war,” he said.
Mr. Schweitzer added: “Here’s a novel concept for Congress. Do something. Anything. Move.”
Why is this issue not being pushed by the Democrats in Congress? Clearly, ordinary Americans are ready for change. They only await politicians with the courage to to lead us into a future which is not dominated by dwindling, poisonous and unsustainable energy resources such as oil and coal.
We have the means to create a new “Manhattan Project” to develop cleaner alternative fuels and renewable energy sources. What we apparently lack is the political will among our national leaders to seriously wrestle with the climate crisis. I can only speculate as to their reasons, but certainly cowardice is one possibility, i.e., the fear of criticism from our “Take the RNC talking points and run with them” media. And some of their reluctance may be based on Democrats who have close ties to fossil fuel industries. Whatever their reasons, it’s a disgrace.
Don’t be surprised to see one of the governors discussed in the Times’ report emerge on the national scene in the next few years promoting a vision of a carbon free world, especially if none of the current leaders of the Democratic or Republican parties is willing to do so. Whoever that person may be will benefit greatly. He or she may even become a future President. Whoever doesn’t …?