Newly elected Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), in his first speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, spoke on the urgency of fighting climate change pollution with new clean energy.
“We need to create an end of the era of climate denial. Climate change is irrefutable. It is raising sea levels. It is giving storms more power. The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets. We must put in place the preventative care of unleashing a renewable energy revolution in wind, in solar, in biomass, in geothermal, in energy efficiency that avoids the worst, most catastrophic impacts of climate change on this planet. We are seeing it on an ongoing basis, not just here, but across the planet.Video:
Our moral duty to future generations calls on us to address climate change. But it also is an economic opportunity to create new jobs here in our country. I will soon introduce new legislation that will call on American to reach a 25 percent target for clean energy and energy efficiency improvements. This bill will create jobs as it cuts pollution. And I will continue to work to pass climate legislation as I did in the House of Representatives.”
As a member of the House of Representatives, Markey was a co-sponsor of climate legislation that passed the House in 2009 but died in the U.S. Senate.
The U.S. House of Representatives, after nearly three months of delay, is finally voting to provide emergency federal aid for the survivors of Superstorm Sandy. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) prevented a vote in the previous Congress, leaving millions of Americans in the cold and outraging Northeast Republicans such as Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY).
Responding to the public outrage, the House voted to approve $9 billion in flood insurance funding in the first week of January, overcoming the nay votes of 67 Republicans called “jackasses” by former Senator Al D’Amato (R-NY).
Yesterday afternoon, the House Rules Committee took up H.R. 152, the $50.7 billion Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, critical for the rebuilding of the regions affected by the freakish storm. In the meeting, Republicans argued against the emergency support, attacked labor protections for workers, and praised the “logic” of cutting services for the American people to pay for emergency relief from a fossil-fueled disaster. In the meeting, the committee laid out a progression of votes at the behest of Tea Party groups like Club for Growth and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, which have taken a hard line against disaster relief. Debate on the bill and amendments is limited to three hours, making it possible that all votes will take place today.
Below is a summary of the vote sequence:
: GOOD: Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) amendment. After an hour of debate, the House will consider $17 billion in emergency funding. This legislation is expected to pass, with only extreme conservatives voting against.
: BAD: Mulvaney (R-SC), McClintock (R-CA), Duncan (R-SC), Lummis (R-WY) amendment. Then the House will consider an amendment that demands $17 billion in mandatory cuts in services for the poor, young, and elderly. This amendment may garner significant Republican support and would set a dire precedent for Congressional disaster relief.
: GOOD: Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) amendment. After 20 minutes of further debate, the House will vote on the rest of the Sandy relief and rebuilding package, $33.7 billion “to cover current and anticipated needs in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Sandy.” This language is the other key vote. Only about 50 Republicans are expected to support this key legislation.
Following these three major votes, an additional 11 amendments will be considered in turn, with 10 minutes of debate for each. There are multiple “jackass” amendments that cut disaster preparedness and relief funding from extremist Republicans Reps. Paul Broun (R-GA), John Fleming (R-LA), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Bill Flores (R-TX), and Rob Bishop (R-UT). Broun’s amendment deserves particular attention for its special degree of jackassery:
: Broun (R-GA) amendment: “Amendment to FRELINGHUYSEN: Strikes $13,000,000 in funding to ‘accelerate the National Weather Service ground readiness project.’”
There are two good amendments from Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) that provide much-needed funding for community development and veterans’ cemeteries damaged by Sandy. Other amendments, including a submission from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) to consider man-made sea level rise, were ruled out of order.
Important provisions to help the many climate disaster victims of 2012 prepare for our dangerous future are being attacked as “pork.” The opposite is true. The Frelinghuysen bill already eliminates much-needed support for many climate disaster survivors around the nation. Tea Party activists are pushing for even further cuts.
Republicans have held up this emergency spending for nearly three months because they say the U.S. can’t afford to help victims of climate disasters – but they refuse to make Big Oil pay even a share for the damage their pollution has caused. These same legislators were willing to shut down the government to protect tax breaks for billionaires.
Of the 67 Republicans who voted against the initial disaster relief, only one, Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS), has publicly changed his vote after a visit to Long Island and New Jersey. The remaining “jackasses” include 18 freshmen and at least 36 Republicans who have previously demanded emergency disaster relief for their constituents, but are now obeying the heartless commands of carbon billionaire David Koch, the wealthiest man in New York City.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is an outspoken denier of climate science, with a voting record to match. A favorite of the Koch brothers, Ryan has accused scientists of engaging in conspiracy to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” He has implied that snow invalidates global warming. He has voted to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting greenhouse pollution, to eliminate White House climate advisers, to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from preparing for climate disasters like the drought devastating his home state, and to eliminate the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E):
Paul Ryan Promoted Unfounded Conspiracy Theories About Climate Scientists. In a December 2009 op-ed during international climate talks, Ryan made reference to the hacked University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit emails. He accused climatologists of a “perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion,” in order to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” Because of spurious claims of conspiracy like these, several governmental and academic inquiries were launched, all of which found the accusations to be without merit. [Paul Ryan, 2/11/09]
Paul Ryan Argued Snow Invalidates Global Warming Policy. In the same December 2009 op-ed, Ryan argued, “Unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow.” [Paul Ryan, 2/11/09]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate EPA Limits On Greenhouse Pollution. Ryan voted in favor of H.R. 910, introduced in 2011 by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution. [Roll Call 249, 4/7/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Block The USDA From Preparing For Climate Change. In 2011, Ryan voted in favor of the Scalise (R-LA) Amendment to the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations bill, to bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture from implementing its Climate Protection Plan. [Roll Call 448, 6/16/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate White House Climate Advisers. Ryan voted in favor of Scalise (R-LA) Amendment 204 to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, to eliminate the assistant to the president for energy and climate change, the special envoy for climate change (Todd Stern), and the special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. [Roll Call 87, 2/17/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate ARPA-E. Ryan voted in favor of Biggert (R-IL) Amendment 192 to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, to eliminate the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E). [Roll Call 55, 2/17/11]
Paul Ryan Voted To Eliminate Light Bulb Efficiency Standards. In 2011, Ryan voted to roll back light-bulb efficiency standards that had reinvigorated the domestic lighting industry and that significantly reduce energy waste and carbon pollution. [Roll Call 563, 7/12/11]
Paul Ryan Voted For Keystone XL. In 2011, Ryan voted to expedite the consideration and approval of the construction and operation of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. [Roll Call 650, 7/26/11]
Paul Ryan Budget Kept Big Oil Subsidies And Slashed Clean Energy Investment. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed FY 2013 budget resolution retained a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while slashing funding for investments in clean energy research, development, deployment, and commercialization, along with other energy programs. The plan called for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone. [CAP, 3/20/12]
Paul Ryan’s record of support for the fossil fuel industry is one of denial of the scientific consensus that climate change is a fundamental risk to human civilization.
Lugar Defeated In Primary By Richard Mourdock, Who Attacked 'Junk Science Associated with Global Climate Change Alarmism'
Clearly, Lugar is out of touch with Hoosier conservatives if he thinks that serving on the board of groups that advocate ‘cap and trade’ carbon tax schemes and the junk science associated with global climate change alarmism is prudent when he represents a state that meets the majority of its electrical needs with coal-fired generators.Following his defeat, Lugar bemoaned the extremism of the Republican Party. “Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change,” Lugar said.
Lugar did not actually have a record of supporting climate legislation. In 2008, he joined the filibuster of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.
Senate Republicans have introduced legislation to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), would merge the EPA, which enforces environmental laws, with the Department of Energy, which manages nuclear energy and energy research, into one department.In January, Newt Gingrich proposed abolishing the EPA, and several House Republicans have supported that goal. Burr’s statement announcing his bill to eliminate the EPA argues that “duplicative functions” can be eliminated:
U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) introduced a bill that would consolidate the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency into a single, new agency called the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). The bill would provide cost savings by combining duplicative functions while improving the administration of energy and environmental policies by ensuring a coordinated approach.
Burr’s bill has fifteen co-sponsors, all of them deniers of the threat of global warming pollution, a top EPA priority: Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), David Vitter (R-La.), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Mike Lee (R-Utah).
After a contentious House Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday, the full chamber will take up H.R. 910, the Upton-Inhofe Energy Tax Prevention Act, on Wednesday. In the upper chamber, the Senate is scheduled to begin votes at 4 pm on the climate amendments to S. 493, including Baucus amendment no. 236, Stabenow-Brown no. 277, Rockefeller no. 215, and McConnell no. 183, which is the Upton-Inhofe bill.
At the rules hearing on H.R. 910, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) submitted several amendments to change the title of bill, including the “Koch Brothers Appreciation Act” and “Protecting Americans from Polar Bears Act.”
The small business legislation SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 493), introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), is being used as a vehicle for senators who wish to prevent regulation of greenhouse pollution from oil refineries, coal-fired power plants, heavy industry, and other major emitters. Four amendments, varying from the Upton-Inhofe legislation to prevent any and all action by the Environmental Protection Agency against climate change, to a two-year suspension of climate rules from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), have been introduced. Votes on some combination of the amendments are expected to take place as early as Thursday afternoon.Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has introduced amendment 183, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, first introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). The amendment is cosponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). The amendment calls for:
- The permanent prohibition on Clean Air Act regulation of greenhouse gases, other than the existing motor vehicle rules
- Repeal of the greenhouse gas endangerment finding and reporting requirements
- Preventing any future California waiver for tailpipe greenhouse emissions
- A two-year suspension of stationary source regulations of carbon dioxide and methane
- Forbidding regulation of greenhouse gases from a emitter that doesn’t also produce other regulated air pollution
- Codification of the EPA tailoring rule that establishes a 75,000 ton CO2e/year threshold for regulation
- Excluding regulation of biofuel emissions related to land-use changes, or any other agricultural activities whatsover
- A two-year suspension of stationary source greenhouse gas regulations
- Preventing any future California waiver for tailpipe greenhouse emissions
- Excluding regulation of biofuel emissions related to land-use changes, or any other agricultural activities whatsover
- Allocating $5 billion to the Advanced Energy Project tax credit
Of the 403 amendments offered on the House budget measure, the 2011 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1), many are focused on climate change, energy policy, and environmental protection. Republican amendments, if fully enacted, would eliminate the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Special Envoy for Climate Change, the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the NOAA Climate Service, and would block rules for cement plant pollution, coal ash, industrial boiler pollution, water quality, climate change, climate change adaptation, energy-efficient lighting, mountaintop removal, atrazine, and water conservation.
The following list was compiled by E&E News and by Hill Heat.
Administration environment programs
- Amendment No. 202 from Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) to defund the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which advises the president on environmental issues.
- Amendment No. 203 from Labrador to stop the administration from using its funding to designate new monuments under the Antiquities Act. The administration downplayed that authority last summer after Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee released a leaked Interior Department memo listing 14 possible sites for future monuments.
- Amendment No. 344 from Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) to stop the federal government from reimbursing attorneys’ fees that were incurred while seeking enforcement of the National Environmental Policy Act.
- Amendment No. 204 from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) to stop the White House from using its funds to pay for an assistant to the president for energy and climate change, a special envoy for climate change or a special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. The first of those posts is held by departing climate czar Carol Browner.
- Amendment No. 257 from Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), also to stop the White House from paying for an assistant to the president for energy and climate change, the position held by Carol Browner.
- Amendment No. 165 from Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) to stop EPA from using its funding to implement new air pollution rules for cement kilns. Carter has recently drawn fire from environmentalists for introducing a resolution to block the standards, which would set limits on mercury and other types of toxic air pollution.
- Amendment No. 201 from Labrador to stop EPA from issuing or enforcing final standards for air pollution from industrial boilers. EPA sought an extension after industry groups and many lawmakers in Congress slammed the rule that was proposed last summer, but a court ordered the agency to issue a final rule by Feb. 21. The agency sent its draft to the White House for review last month, saying it would open up a reconsideration proceeding after issuing a final rule.
- Amendments No. 65 and 66 from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) to allow EPA to limit greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act if it is deemed “necessary to protect the public health or prevent severe environmental degradation.”
- Amendment No. 198 from Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) to stop EPA from creating a cap-and-trade program or enforcing any other regulations for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Poe introduced a similar bill last month, as well as during the previous Congress.
- Amendment No. 348 from Pearce to stop Interior from putting funding toward climate change adaptation.
- Amendment No. 29 from Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to reduce funding for the International Fund for Agricultural Development by $2.599 million. Also reduces funding for Contributions to International Organizations account by $44 million, Global Environmental Facility by $4.6 million, International Development Association by $136 million, Enterprise for American Multilateral Investment by $2.9 million, and African Development Fund by $19.5 million.
- Amendment No. 149 from Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-Mo.) to prohibit funding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
- Amendment No. 378 from Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) to prohibit the establishment of the NOAA Climate Service (NCS).
- Amendment No. 94 from Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) to stop EPA from using its funding to implement its decision to allow the ethanol content of gasoline to be increased from 10 percent to 15 percent. EPA issued a rule in October that said E-15 could be used in vehicles made after 2007, and in January, the agency followed up with another rule allowing cars made between 2001 and 2006 to use the fuel.
- Amendment No. 241 from Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) to stop the Department of Energy from using its funding for the Oil and Gas Research and Development Program.
- Amendment No. 181 from Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) to bar the use of federal funds to implement the section of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that phases out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient alternatives. Republicans have gone after the provision, citing it as an example of an overreaching federal government.
- Amendment No. 251 from Scalise to stop Interior from using any funding to delay the approval of a plan or permit for energy exploration on the outer continental shelf. The agency has been rebuked twice by a federal court for slowing new oil and gas drilling as part of its response to last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Amendments No. 300 through 320 from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) to make a variety of changes to the appropriations given to DOE for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, including eliminating solar energy, water power, building technologies, vehicle technologies, fuel cells, geothermal energy, and biomass technologies.
- Amendment No. 329 from Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) to bar additional funding for the operations and maintenance of the Southeastern Power Administration, which operates hydroelectric power projects in the southeastern United States.
- Amendment No. 27 from Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to stop Interior from issuing new oil or natural gas leases on the outer continental shelf if they do not include limitations on royalty relief based on market price.
- Amendment No. 228 from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to prevent the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center refurbishment, and to reduce the DOE nuclear budget by $20 million.
- Amendment No. 13 from Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) would stop EPA from using its funding to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards for Florida’s lakes and flowing waters, which were issued in November. They have been challenged by the state of Florida (E&ENews PM, Dec. 7, 2010).
- Amendment No. 109 from Griffith to stop EPA from using its funding to implement or enforce new guidance for the review of possible water pollution from proposed coal-mining projects. The guidance was challenged last summer by the National Mining Association, which claims EPA has enforced the guidance as if it were a final rule without going through the usual notice-and-comment process (Greenwire, July 20, 2010).
- Amendment No. 216 from Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) to stop EPA from administering or enforcing the sections of the Clean Water Act that govern dredge-and-fill permits. Those are the permits needed by mountaintop-removal operations such as the Spruce No. 1 coal mine, a West Virginia project that had its water quality permit revoked by EPA last month.
- Amendment No. 218 from Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) to stop EPA from issuing new rules for the circumstances under which mining may be conducted near streams or from conducting an environmental impact statement on the impact of the rules.
- Amendment No. 289 from McClintock to stop Interior from issuing grants under the WaterSMART program. The conservation initiative, which was created by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last year, is intended to find solutions for the water shortages in many areas of the West.
Chemicals and toxics
- Amendment No. 10 from Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) to stop EPA from developing or issuing standards that list coal ash as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. After issuing a proposal last year, the agency has not signaled when it might make a final decision on coal ash, which was thrust into the public eye after a massive spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant in late 2008.
- Amendment No. 217 from McKinley, also to stop the coal ash rules.
- Amendment No. 279 from Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) to stop EPA from using its funding to re-evaluate the possible health effects of the approved herbicide atrazine. In late 2009, the agency started a new review of atrazine, which is widely used by corn and sugar cane growers, to investigate whether the herbicide can have effects on the human endocrine system.
The hearing will discuss draft legislation, authored by Chairman Upton and Subcommittee Chairman Whitfield, that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing a “cap-and-trade national energy tax” through regulations under the Clean Air Act.Witnesses
- Lisa Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
- Greg Abbott, Attorney General, State of Texas
- Harry C. Alford, President & CEO, National Black Chamber of Commerce
- Lonnie N. Carter, President and CEO, Santee Cooper
- Steve Cousins, Vice President, Lions Oil Company
- Peter S. Glaser, Partner, Troutman Sanders LLP
- Fred T. Harnack, General Manager, Environmental Affairs, US Steel Corporation
- Philip Nelson, President, Illinois Farm Bureau
- James Pearce, Director of Manufacturing, FMC Corporation
- Steve Rowlan, General Manager, Environmental Affairs, Nucor Corporation
- Dr. Margo Thorning, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, American Council for Capital Formation
From the Wonk Room.
Democrats recently elected to the U.S. Senate have pressed their colleagues to ambitiously address climate and energy reform, and are frustrated by the lack of action. In a series of interviews with the Wonk Room at Netroots Nation, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) described the challenges of confronting climate pollution in the sclerotic legislative body, brought to a practical standstill by minority obstruction. They each discussed how the “new class” of 22 Democratic senators elected in the 2006 and 2008 waves (with independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont) have pressed for greater “political clarity” on climate by “rattling all the cages” in the Senate, alongside senior leaders such as Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).
Questioned by the Wonk Room why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) shied away from introducing a comprehensive climate bill for full Senate consideration as energy crises pile up during the hottest summer ever recorded, the senators noted the ability of Republicans to thwart the will of the majority through the abuse of parliamentary procedures. They recognized Reid’s decision to try for quick action with a limited package in what little time is left during this Congress. However, they relished the chance to debate the promise of a green economy before the November elections, seeing the issue as a political winner:
CARDIN: I think we need political clarity. I wasn’t so concerned about having a vote before August. But we needed the clarity of the bill.
FRANKEN: If you want to rev up people, and say Democrats believe in this – one of the gaps they’re talking about is the enthusiasm gap. So maybe, politically, that is the right way to go. I think that Harry tends to want to get half a loaf or a third of a loaf rather than no loaf at all. This bill could be considered a first step. A lot of that is strategic, in terms of positioning yourself for the election. I was sort of of the school that we should go for pricing carbon, and if we lose, we lose. But that’s not what we did.
UDALL: Our two classes – the class of 2006 and the class of 2008 – I think have a real passion for all of the things you talked about and a desire to do something. We’re rattling all the cages in the committees we’re on, doing the things that we can do. But there is kind of an institutional thing going on there that slows everything down. There’s no doubt about that.
MERKLEY: This generational factor is why, if we can create a course that at least puts us on the right track for the next six to eight years, we will have with each subsequent election more and more folks coming in—based on what I hear at the university level, and graduate school level, and based on the difference between our class and the several classes ahead of us – there is just a growing commitment and passion to fighting this fight on climate and energy.
Watch Udall, Merkley, and Franken discuss their efforts to bring new passion to the climate and energy fight:
The Democrats described by Sen. Cardin as the “new class” overwhelmingly support strong green economy legislation, unlike the older generation peppered with climate peacocks. In fact, according to Politico, every one of the 12 Democrats elected in 2008 would vote for cloture on comprehensive climate and energy reform. Of the ten Democrats elected in 2006, only Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) make polluter-friendly arguments against clean energy reform.
“This is going to be a generational battle,” Merkley explained. “We’re going to have keep working and pushing because even our most optimistic bill has fairly weak goals for 2020. We’re going to have to be a lot more aggressive between 2020 and 2050 if we’re going to address carbon dioxide.”
“We can’t give up,” Cardin said during his interview, “because the stakes are too high for our country.”