The situation is moving from sparring to some serious boxing when it comes to the Lieberman-Warner Climate (in)Security Act (CISA) . Friends of the Earth (FoE) has launched an advertising campaign voicing reason re Lieberman-Warner, pointing out that the CiSA (the Coal-Subsidy Act) is not just inadequate, but also is far weaker than the energy and Global Warming positions of the two Democratic Presidential candidates. Why, FoE is asking, are Democratic leaders so desperately working to get votes for a bad bill, carrying the names of two endorsers of John McCain for President?
After years of ignoring global warming, the U.S. Senate is finally considering legislation to cap greenhouse gas pollution. Unfortunately, the Lieberman-Warner bill being advanced by Senate Democrats lavishes up to $1 trillion on industries responsible for global warming, and in return asks for reduction targets well below what scientists say are necessary. If this is the best Senate Democrats can do, the world is in trouble.
And, at the same time, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is working hard to whip up support for Lieberman-Warner, Boxing our way to disaster.
Senator Boxer has reacted angrily to FoE’s efforts (note: E&E article behind firewall), basically calling them a “foe” rather than guardian of the interests of humanity, of America’s citizens (born and unborn), when it comes to sensible choices for Global Warming legislation.
“They’re sort of the defeatist group out there,” she said. “They’ve been defeatists from day one. And it’s unfortunate. They’re isolated among the environmental groups.”
Yes, Senator Boxer, please focus on attacking an organization that is calling on all Americans to support legislative action that does not fall short of what science says is required to give us just a 50% chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. No, much better to be praising legislation that represents a trillion dollars of new corporate subsidies (making dealing with Global Warming that much more expensive and harder to do) and falls far short of what science says is required.
“Far from being defeatists, we’re being realists,” Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder said when asked to comment on Boxer’s remarks. “We’re focusing on what the scientists tell us has to be done to solve global warming. It’s not acceptable to pass a bill that falls short of the science. It’s not acceptable to pass a bill that gives $1 trillion to polluters.”
Let us be clear, this is not Friends of the Earth seeking the perfect as the enemy of the good. Even with the fixes FoE seeks, the resulting bill would be ‘maybe good enough’ and not ‘perfect’. No, the challenge is not perfection as enemy of good but, simply, bad, inadequate and dangerous being the enemy of good enough.
“Their logic doesn’t hold up,” Boxer said of an ad campaign from Friends of the Earth Action. “What we need to do is not waste time. If we can get a strong bill signed into law, we should get it. And if we can’t, we shouldn’t.”
That is right, Senator Boxer, we should not be wasting time. Do you (does anyone) expect that this Senate, with this President, will be able to pass and have “signed into law” a “strong bill”? Thus, the question, why should you (we) “waste time” on this fight rather than focusing on measures that will help move the nation (the globe) forward toward more sensible energy, economic, and other policies that will help set the stage for President Clinton or President Obama to sign a more meaningful bill come 2009?
Sadly, when it comes to major environmental voices in the United States, Friends of the Earth seems to be singing a solo with establishment environmental organizations singing praise for CISA while glossing over its weaknesses.
“We do not agree with Friends of the Earth,” Julia Bovey, a spokewoman at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said. “We are not willing to give up the fight. We believe the Lieberman-Warner bill as passed out of committee is a very strong start. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.”
Does anyone expect improvement re pollution permit giveaways to serial polluters on the Senate floor? With a Senate unable to deal with tax equity when it comes to the top five oil companies, thus dropping $13 billion of renewable energy programs from the 2007 Energy Bill to satisfy 39 Republicans and Senator Landrieu? There is NRDC calling the beyond inadequate (recklessly dangerous perhaps is better) Lieberman-Warner “a very strong start”, suggesting that it will be strengthened, rather than weakened, by full Senate action.
Thus, much of the battle boils down to political calculation. Senator Boxer wants to get a roll call, who stands where on Global Warming legislation, providing a voting track record to support political maneuvering come 2009. This assumes that Congress will not send something to the White House that George W Bush would sign. This, however, is an extremely risky maneuver. Will the desire and pressure for “Climate Change” legislation be so great that a weakened Lieberman-Warner would be sent to the White House and that, for whichever set of reasons, Bush would then sign? Is this not a risk to be taken quite seriously? Is the ‘vote count’ so critical to risk this scenario?
Friends of the Earth is making an assumption that, come January 2009, the political scene will be better for chances for legitimate Global Warming legislation. But, Boxer evidently questions this, arguing that any attempt to deal with Global Warming legislation a year from now would still require 60 votes to deal with a ‘guaranteed filibuster by Senator Inhofe’. Now, this raises several questions:
How many days would Senator Inhofe be able to maintain a filibuster? At some point, shouldn’t someone say “bring it on!”
Does Senator Boxer realize that there is a Democrat running against Senator Inhofe? Perhaps she would better spend her time working to help Andrew Rice join her in the Senate come 2009 rather than pushing the CISA. What might happen in Oklahoma this November with real resources devoted to helping Oklahomans understand how James Inhofe is working against their interests? To provide Oklahomans the factual basis for understanding how divorced from reality James Inhofe is?
Is a filibuster by Inhofe inevitable? Not if Andrew Rice has anything to say about it and perhaps Barbara Boxer should focus more on helping Andrew’s voice be heard. After all, I seem to remember a certain Senator for California reminding Senator Inhofe that “elections have consequences“.
And, this is the saddest thing about this issue, about having to write this diary. When it comes to sensible approaches to Global Warming, Senator Boxer gets the science, she gets the challenge, she understands the risk for her grandchildren. It is sad that Boxer is aiming her ‘left hooks’ at strong voices for environment, like FoE, rather than humanity’s real foes exemplified by Senator Inhofe (R-Exxon).