Turning the process of enrolling a bill into stagecraft, Congressional Republicans ceremoniously signed their bill expediting the foreign-owned Keystone XL tar sands pipeline today. President Barack Obama has promised a veto of the legislation. The Hoeven-Manchin bill, S. 1, passed the Senate 62-36 and the House 270-152, neither achieving the two-thirds majority necessary for a veto override.
Emulating the ceremony of a presidential bill signing, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) signed the enrolled legislation with large metal pens on a table decked with navy blue as other Congressional Republicans stood watching. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who received the ceremonial pen, argued that vetoing the bill would help OPEC. According to the Hill’s Laura Baron-Lopez, “Hoeven asked if the administration really wants to rely on OPEC with the current terror situation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
After careful consideration, I am vetoing this bill because (1) there are meaningful safeguards in place that render the bill unnecessary; (2) the real threat to Pax River is not an array of wind turbines on the lower Eastern Shore but rising sea levels caused by climate change; and (3) increasing renewable energy is a core strategic goal for the future security and prosperity of our State.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip, is a vigorous opponent of the wind farm, testifying in Annapolis against its potential threat to the naval base, although the project developer and U.S. Navy had come to an agreement to alleviate the Navy’s concerns about possible radar interference from the turbines. Hoyer was joined by Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in counseling delay. Cardin was one of the recent participants in the #Up4Climate all-night talkathon, during which he discussed the threat of sea level rise to Pax River and the need for investment in renewable energy.O’Malley’s letter reiterated the importance of fighting the carbon pollution which is already damaging Maryland with investment in clean energy.
Ironically, the greater inconvenient truth threatening Pax River — and the billions of dollars of economic activity generated by that facility — is climate change. To address that threat, we must encourage the development of clean renewable energy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by shifting to clean energy will not always be easy or convenient in the short run, and it will challenge all of us to find new ways to coexist, but it is critical to sustaining the economy and living environment of our State.He also noted the National Climate Assessment:
The recent release of the Third National Climate Assessment highlights the costs climate change is already imposing on Maryland and underscores the importance of doing everything we can to reduce the damage it will cause in the future. Our State in general, and Pax River in particular, are vulnerable to the very type of carbon pollution that renewable energy projects help reduce.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Maryland, and the Sierra Club mobilized thousands of activists to support the wind project.
Wind farm opponents have pledged to keep fighting against the project.
Despite Environmental Endorsements, Sen. Susan Collins Has Spotty Record on Confronting Climate Change
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), facing reelection this year in a strongly Democratic state, has garnered the support of national environmental organizations despite a conflicted record on climate policy. In September 2013, the League of Conservation Voters launched an ad campaign praising Collins’ “environmental leadership.” A new advertisement from the Environmental Defense Fund and Moms Clean Air Force praises Collins for “confronting climate change” in marked contrast to the majority of her Republican colleagues. The organizations have not formally endorsed a candidate in the rate.
The EDF ad cites Collins’ vote on “S. Amdt 359 to SCon Res 8, Roll Call #76, 3/22/13.” That day Collins broke with the Republican caucus to vote against an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) prohibiting further greenhouse gas regulations for the purposes of addressing climate change.
She cast a similar vote on April 6, 2011, when she broke the Republican ranks to vote against the McConnell amendment prohibiting EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.
On December 11, 2009, Collins and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced climate legislation (S. 2877) in competition with Kerry-Boxer (S. 1733), the Senate version of the Waxman-Markey bill. Cantwell-Collins offered a simpler cap-and-trade system and weaker emissions targets than Kerry-Boxer.
However, a broader review of her voting record finds that Collins repeatedly acted to help Republicans prevent the passage of climate legislation during the Obama presidency and to weaken executive action on climate rules:
- On April 1, 2009, Collins allied with Republicans and conservative Democrats in key votes to preserve the ability of Republicans to filibuster climate legislation during Obama’s first term. She voted against non-filibusterable budget reconciliation for green economy legislation, if “the Senate finds that public health, the economy and national security of the United States are jeopardized by inaction on global warming” (Roll Call Vote #125). She then voted to prohibit the use of reconciliation in the Senate for climate change legislation involving a cap and trade system (Roll Call #126. She voted for Sen. Kit Bond’s amendment establishing a point of order against climate change or similar legislation that would increase federal revenues (Roll Call #142).
These votes arguably made the future demise of climate legislation in the Senate inevitable, in contrast to health care legislation, which became law through the reconciliation process despite unified Republican opposition.
- On April 6, 2011, Collins voted for Rockefeller’s bill to delay greenhouse-gas regulations for two years (Roll Call #53).
- On March 21 and 22, 2013, Collins voted for Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to create a point of order against legislation that would create a federal tax or fee on carbon emissions (Roll Call #59) and against Sen. Whitehouse’s amendment that would support the creation of a carbon fee (Roll Call #58).
Moreover, Collins has been a consistent supporter of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, voting that “that no additional safety or environmental analysis of the pipeline was necessary” in 2012 (Roll Call #34) and in 2013 (Roll Call #61). Collins is also “the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation that has not called upon the State Department to do a full environmental review” of the possibility of the Portland Montreal Pipeline being used to carry tar sands crude, as the Canadian government opens the route from Alberta to Quebec for the carbon-intensive fossil fuel.
Although Collins has expressed a desire for “limiting the worst effects of climate change,” when the opportunity has come to display true climate leadership, she has supported her caucus instead more often than not.
The White House has issued a veto threat against legislation from the Republican-led House of Representatives that would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants. The Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826), introduced by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), is up for consideration on the House floor this week.
“H.R. 3826 would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants, and arbitrarily restrict the available technologies that could be considered for any new standards,” argued the White House statement. “Finally, the bill could delay indefinitely reductions in carbon pollution from existing power plants by prohibiting forthcoming rules from taking effect until Congress passes legislation setting the effective date of the rules.”
The bill has 94 co-sponsors, including seven Democrats (John Barrow, William Enyart, Jim Matheson, Collin Peterson, Nick Rahall, Terri Sewell, and Mike McIntyre).
Full text of statement:
March 4, 2014 (House Rules)
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 3826 – Electricity Security and Affordability Act
(Rep. Whitfield, R-Kentucky, and 94 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3826, which would undermine the public health protections of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and stop U.S. progress in cutting dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. In 2009, EPA determined that Greenhouse Gas (GHG) pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting climate changes that are already having a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic GHG emissions. While the United States limits emissions of arsenic, mercury, and lead pollution from power plants, there are no national limits on power plant carbon pollution. As part of his Climate Action Plan, the President directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with States, utilities, and other stakeholders to develop standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants. H.R. 3826 would block those important efforts, threatening the health and safety of Americans.
H.R. 3826 would nullify proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants, and arbitrarily restrict the available technologies that could be considered for any new standards. This requirement would stifle progress in reducing carbon pollution by discouraging the adoption of currently available and effective technology, and would limit further development of cutting-edge clean energy technologies. Finally, the bill could delay indefinitely reductions in carbon pollution from existing power plants by prohibiting forthcoming rules from taking effect until Congress passes legislation setting the effective date of the rules. This would undermine regulatory certainty and prevent timely action on standards for the power sector — the largest source of carbon pollution in the country.
Since it was enacted in 1970, and amended in 1977 and 1990, each time with strong bipartisan support, the CAA has improved the Nation’s air quality and protected public health. Over that same period of time, the economy has grown over 200 percent while emissions of key pollutants have decreased by more than 70 percent. Forty years of clean air regulation has shown that a strong economy and strong environmental and public health protection go hand-in-hand.
The Administration stands ready to work with Congress to enact comprehensive legislation to achieve meaningful reductions in carbon pollution. However, the President has made it clear that if Congress fails to act to protect future generations from the threat of climate change, his Administration will.Because H.R. 3826 threatens the health and economic welfare of future generations by blocking important standards to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector, if the President is presented with H.R. 3826, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
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.”