March 26, 2010
New Mexico Senator Tom Udall
Now that passage of health care legislation proved that Congress is still capable of acting on big ideas, Washington this week was aflutter with action on the climate and energy bill. Good thing, too, since NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies posted findings early in the week that global temperatures “continued to rise rapidly,” and the World Meteorological Organization closed the week with its conclusion that the last decade was the warmest on record.
White House Legislative Affairs Director Phil Schiliro, and the president’s energy and climate adviser, Carol Browner, met mid-week with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the chairmen of several Senate committees with jurisdiction over climate and energy. Topic: developing a winning strategy to gain 60 votes for passage. A day earlier Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman spent time briefing Democratic members on the proposal the three senior lawmakers are hoping to introduce in April.
Letters in support of comprehensive action on climate and clean energy also are flying around Washington. One of those senators, Tom Udall of New Mexico, drafted and sent to Reid a letter signed by 21 other Democrats that urged a vote before the end of the year.
“Our lack of a comprehensive clean energy policy hurts job creation and increases regulatory uncertainty throughout our economy,” wrote Senator Udall. “Businesses are waiting on Congress before investing billions in energy, transportation, manufacturing, building and other sectors.” The letter came just a few days after the senator’s father, Stewart L. Udall, the Interior secretary for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and one of the 20th century’s greatest environmental leaders, died at age 90.
Another letter, signed by 23 climate action groups, many of them USCAN members, was sent to the White House, the EPA, and five cabinet secretaries urging the administration to make good on the commitments it made in Copenhagen. “As leaders in the Senate finalize a new approach to comprehensive climate and energy legislation,” said the letter, “we urge you to work to ensure that the Senate bill includes significant and predictable investments in international action to combat climate change and its consequences.”
Best Buy this week became the latest prominent company to break with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over climate policy and action. That step came as new light focused on the dangerous campaign by the fossil fuel industry and its allies to discredit climate science and clean energy.
Greenpeace published “Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science,” that reports on the 20-year effort to block progress with specious attacks on the science, and accuses ExxonMobil of being the ringleader.
And six months after NRDC blogger Pete Altman reported that a Danish study critical of Danish wind energy was financed by an American activist think tank with financial ties to oil-rich Koch Industries, that revealing connection generated headlines in Europe.
All and all a good week. Until next week take care, Keith Schneider