Adopt a Senator for Climate Change: Chuck Grassley, Iowa stubborn

(Thanks to Rose for this overview. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Crossposted from Daily Kos, hope I work the formatting out better this time!

Charles Grassley is a fairly conservative Republican senator. He has his bright spots and a bit of sanity; he helps whistleblowers and he is in favor of renewable energy.  That said, he doesn’t really believe in AGW and he opposes cap-and-trade, so he is likely to be a “NO” on Kerry-Boxer.  Follow me below the fold for the evidence.

General background

According to his Wikipedia article, Chuck Grassley has served in the U.S.Senate since 1981. (I can remember when Roger Jepsen was Tweedledumb and Grassley was Tweedledumber, but it’s a canard.  Grassley is shrewd, but he’s very stubborn, and he’s under pressure from the right.)  Highlights include his support of whistleblowers, support for renewable energy, and investigation of churches for fund misuse.  Lowlights include his general environmental record (dismal), his strong support for the bad Bush bankrupcy bill, and his admission that he tends to listen to the constituents who yell loudest.

I went to OnTheIssues to take a closer look at his votes on energy and the environment, which confirmed the impression from the article above. His environmental voting is wretched, and aside from a liking for renewable energy, so is his energy voting.

Finances

This is the summary page on OpenSecrets for Grassley.  Now, he’s much more beholden to health professionals, pharmaceuticals, insurance, and hospitals/nursing homes than he is to energy companies. His vote on the Baucus bill should come as no surprise. Still, Occidental Petroleum is one of his larger donors in this cycle. When you look at the top industries he gets contributions from, electric utilities and oil & gas are in the middle range, just below the various medical industries that donate to him.

Grassley’s Senate site

Checking his own words on energy and the environment, he is in favor of biofuels and wind energy.  And this is true; his votes have supported wind energy and he brags about new wind farms when they open.  He also has resisted US EPA efforts to account for indirect greenhouse gas effects from production of biofuels.  This is consistent with his disbelief in AGW and his support of Iowa farming, especially Big Ag.

In a pig’s eye he’ll change his mind

Consider the response I got from him when I urged him to support the bill last July (my name changed to nom de blog, emphases by me):

From: Chuck.Grassley@grassley.senate.gov

To: RunawayRose

Sent: 7/20/2009 9:54:04 A.M. Central Daylight Time

Subj: Senator Chuck Grassley’s response to your email.

Thank you for taking the time to email me. As your senator, it is important for me to hear from you. Please accept my apology for the delay in my response.

I appreciate hearing your concerns regarding global climate change. I recognize that various predictions of global climate change have been a cause of concern for many and I believe that it is prudent to consider sensible steps to address potential future warming.

Economic growth is inextricably linked with energy production and most of our energy currently comes from fossil fuels, which produce carbon dioxide when burned for fuel. Existing alternative energy options are not sufficient to meet our ever increasing demand for energy and significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption while allowing our economy to grow and create jobs. Imposing mandatory caps on carbon dioxide before other options become widely available would restrict our energy supply and cause significant increases in the cost of energy. This would have a negative effect across our economy and force jobs overseas, but those hardest hit would be small businesses and low income individuals who already struggle to afford heating bills in wintertime.

Last summer, the Senate considered legislation aimed at addressing global climate change. This bill would have created a cap and trade system to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that are produced by various entities in our economy. I thought the Senate should seriously consider and debate this matter. However, I had significant reservations about the approach that was brought before the Senate.

Majority Leader Reid made it clear that he was not prepared to allow debate to last beyond one or two weeks. This was not enough given the significance and implications of the bill. In the end, he used a parliamentary tactic to prevent any senator from offering an amendment and filed a motion to cut off debate before a single amendment could be considered. Under these circumstances, I of course voted against the motion to end debate and the motion failed on a bipartisan vote. In response, the Majority Leader decided to move off the bill and consider other legislation.

The EPA estimated that this bill would cause the typical American family to lose $1400 in purchasing power, eventually rising to $4400 as the cap becomes more strict. The EPA also estimated that gas prices would rise by 53 cents a gallon as a result of this legislation. Several industry groups and think tanks had even more dire predictions about the cost of the bill to American families.  

On April 24, 2008, the Senate Finance Committee, of which I am the Ranking Republican, held a hearing on tax aspects of a cap and trade program. The committee heard testimony from Robert Greenstein from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities about how low-income families would be particularly hard hit by the price increases that would be caused by a cap and trade approach. He stated, “Households with limited incomes will be affected the most by these higher prices, because they spend a larger fraction of their budgets on energy and energy-related products and because they are less able to afford investments that could reduce their energy consumption (such as a new, more fuel-efficient heating system or car).” Mr. Greenstein pointed out that low-income families will face increased costs not just from utilities and gasoline, but food and many other products that require energy to produce, and called for relief to offset the costs and protect low-income individuals from further poverty and hardship.

In addition, Peter Orszag, then director of the Congressional Budget Office and now President Obama’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, testified that the economic impact of the cap in this bill would have a similar effect on the economy to raising the types of taxes that inhibit economic growth. He therefore suggested that Congress might consider reducing growth-dampening taxes to offset the hit to the economy as a whole.

Ironically, while many of the supporters of the flawed bill the Senate considered last summer often complain of “outsourcing of jobs” to countries like China, the increased costs of energy this legislation would impose on American industry would put domestic manufacturing at a competitive disadvantage and cause more manufacturing to go overseas. At the same time, by most accounts, China is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses and its emissions are growing at a tremendous pace as its economy continues to develop. Therefore, any effective cap would have to include developing countries with large and increasing emissions like China and India. The international negotiations started at Bali, Indonesia offer a route forward toward such an approach.

The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would create a cap and trade system to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that are produced by various entities in our economy. Now, the relevant committees in the Senate will consider this legislation. Because of the complexity of this issue and the many implications of this legislation for our economy and our society, I expect extensive debate in the Senate.

The most effective action Congress can take now to address potential future climate change, as well as make our air cleaner and healthier, is to redouble our efforts to increase the availability of renewable and alternative energy sources. In fact, I have been a leader in the Senate in promoting alternative energy sources as a way of protecting our environment and increasing our energy independence.

Most recently, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the economic stimulus bill. This legislation included a 3-year extension of the production tax credit for wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, landfill gas and other renewable energy facilities. Because of current market conditions and the difficultly for many renewable projects to find financing, a temporary election to claim the investment tax credit in lieu of the production tax credit was included. The bill also authorizes an additional $1.6 billion of new clean renewable energy bonds to finance facilities that generate electricity from biomass, geothermal, hydropower, landfill gas, and other renewable sources.

You can be assured that I will continue to support alternative and renewable energy with your thoughts in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  I appreciate hearing your views and urge you to keep in touch.

Sincerely,

Chuck

Then, see this Grist article, from which I lifted this Grassley quote:

While I believe that it is prudent to consider sensible steps to address potential future warming, I have also always said that any environmental policy should be based on sound science, not political science. Virtually all scientists agree that the natural greenhouse effect contributes to warming, but we do not know the direct consequence natural variations in climate may have had on warming. Differences remain about how much our climate could change in the future, the pace of the possible change, or how human actions could impact it.

So, in summary, he doesn’t believe in AGW, there’s nothing we can do about it, if there was something we could do about it, we couldn’t unless China and India went first, etc, etc.

Recap, one more time!

Grassley doesn’t believe in AGW, he voted against cap-and-trade in 2008, and odds are he will vote against it one more time.  Don’t bet the farm on his changing his mind. (I hope I am wrong, but if he does vote for Kerry-Boxer, I will carry an umbrella and listen for oinks overhead.)

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