Last Thursday, the Senate voted 53 to 47 to defeat the Murkowski resolution that would have undermined the EPA's ability to reduce global warming pollution. The vote provides a useful guide to how senators might act on a climate vote.
Of course, it is not a clear-cut comparison because some people voted against the flawed resolution to make a point about process or simply to support the science. It is significant to note that we have 10 more votes in favor of reducing carbon emissions than we did the last time climate change was discussed on the Senate floor two years ago.
But here is what I find most interesting about last week's vote: the number of Senators who have all publicly exclaimed that global warming is a pressing problem but who voted to block the EPA from dealing with it. Are they sitting on an “election year fence” or are the deep pockets of Big Oil & Coal companies propping up their campaign contribution fences? The question must be asked – Why do these senators benefit from burning caveman fuels?
Senator Rockefeller, for instance, said: “I am not here to deny or bicker fruitlessly about the science… In fact, I would suggest that I think the science is correct. Greenhouse gas emissions are not healthy for the Earth or her people, and we must take significant action to reduce them. We must develop and deploy clean energy, period.”
And yet the man voted to hamstring the EPA. Indeed, Senator Rockefeller intends to push his own bill that would put the EPA's effort to confront global warming on hold–giving West Virginia's coal industry a free pass for two more years.
Senator Chambliss from Georgia, meanwhile, said, “I know the climate is changing.” And Senator Hutchison from Texas declared: “As a solution to climate change, we need to work together to promote the use of clean and renewable sources of energy….It is important that we work together. We are the elected representatives of the people.”
And yet both of them voted against one of our main tools for combating global warming pollution: the EPA.
I'm sorry, but if you really believe this is a crisis, why wouldn't you want to fight it with every weapon available? Why wouldn't you deploy the muscle of both Congress AND the federal government?
While I was listening to last week's debate, I couldn't help but be reminded of teaching my three-year-old how to tie her shoes. I showed her how to do it with two hands, of course. Why on earth would I suggest she do it with one?
Yet that is what these Senators seem to be proposing. Senator Collins from Maine said:
“I believe global climate change and the development of alternatives to fossil fuels are significant and urgent priorities for our country.”
Why would she want us to fight global warming with one hand tied behind our back?
On the one hand, these statements are good news – despite the yelping of Inhofe and Hatch, the Senate is not a bastion of climate deniers. There's even a consensus that something must be done. The bad news is they're still not doing it. What is it that these Senators actually would support that isn't just some vague theory?