Why Aren't Climate Change Leaders Doing Everything Possible to Pass Waxman-Markey?

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:00


Last year, Blue Dog Leonard Boswell received a left-wing primary challenge from former state Representative Ed Fallon. Boswell's central, and perhaps only, message to left-wing and new media-focused Democrats was his endorsement by Al Gore. Desmoinesdem explained at the time:

Accompanying these messages, Boswell's campaign has made sure to remind Iowa Democrats that Al Gore supports Boswell, whereas Fallon supported Ralph Nader for president in 2000. A photo of Al and Tipper Gore, along with a letter from Gore endorsing Boswell, are prominently displayed on the front page of the Boswell campaign's website.(...)

Last Thursday another glossy mailer from the Boswell campaign arrived in my mailbox. This one focused on Gore's endorsement of Boswell, with a large photo and a letter from the former vice-president. Here is an excerpt from that piece (all bolded passages were bold in the original):

Leonard Boswell, a remarkable congressman and my friend, is facing a serious primary challenge.

Whether the issue is global warming or increasing the minimum wage, making college more affordable or expanding health care to every American, Leonard Boswell is on the front lines of these issues, working hard for Iowans every day.

Leonard Boswell won the campaign, in no small part because of Gore's endorsement. Now, here is Leonard Boswell, on the front lines of climate change legislation, just last week:

Democrats and Republicans on the committee took turns criticizing the legislation. Their chief complaint is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, rather than the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would be in a charge of the credit program through which farmers could get paid for practices that store crop residue in the soil or otherwise reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

"As this bill stands today, I can't vote for it," Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., told Vilsack. "I don't know of anyone else in the committee who can."

Al Gore is arguing that the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation has "the moral significance equivalent to that of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and the Marshall Plan of the late 1940s." Now, Leonard Boswell, along with seemingly all other Democrats on the Agriculture Committee, is hijacking climate change legislation unless it removes the EPA's authority to determine carbon offsets. Note that this is already on top of the bill's provision to eliminate the EPA's ability to regulate carbon itself, which is actually a step backward for climate change regulation in the Unites states.

The reason I bring is up is that, whenever groups like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace criticize Waxman-Markey for not going far enough, they are immediately smacked down by bloggers like Joe Romm at Climate Progress for failing to offer up "politically realistic" alternatives. However, if this is all about political realism, then why are we seeing the following from Al Gore and Climate Progress in response to the Agriculture Committee's actions:

  1. Al Gore has not made a single public statement about either Leonard Boswell or the Agriculture Committee, despite what they are currently doing to Waxman-Markey.. This is even though Boswell largely owes his position in Congress to Al Gore. One might think that political realists would use this past support to try and influence Boswell in some manner.

  2. Climate Progress have never even mentioned Leonard Boswell once for the more than three years of their existence
    according to Google. In fact, Climate Progress has never directly attacked the actions of the Agriculture Committee in the same way that it has repeatedly, and sometimes viciously, attacked environmental groups that criticize of the bill from the left. All Climate Progress is doing about the Agriculture Committee's actions is putting up articles declaring that the House will pass the bill, and a guest post very politely telling farmers why it would be super swell if they supported global warming legislation.
As such, here is my message for the self-proclaimed political realists who are supporters of Waxman-Markey:

The Democrats on the Agriculture Committee are probably, as a group, the most electorally vulnerable Democrats on any House committee. Some of the Democratic members of this committee, like Leonard Boswell, owe their continuing presence in Congress to people like Al Gore, and certainly to hundreds of progressive donors who would be upset about what Agriculture Committee Democrats are currently doing to climate change legislation. As such, either start directly attacking these vulnerable Democrats in progressive media and Democratic fundraising circles for what they are doing to Waxman-Markey, or stop priding yourself on your political realism.

If Waxman-Markey really is so unbelievably awesome, as both Al Gore and Climate Progress keep arguing, then we should be doing everything possible to pass it. Instead, Al Gore and Climate Progress seem to be giving the Democrats on the Agriculture Committee a free pass on significantly watering down the bill. I have no idea this is happening, but it certainly isn't because they are using all available, politically realistic means to pass Waxman-Markey.

Start playing some hardball, or stop telling us that we are about to get the best climate change bill politically possible.

Chris Bowers :: Why Aren't Climate Change Leaders Doing Everything Possible to Pass Waxman-Markey?

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. (0.00 / 0)
Even if they don't pass anything, we still have the EPA. But I'm a bit annoyed at the shortsightedness of congress. There should be more then enough incentive to get this passed. The special interests should be looking for a compromise in congress rather then heavy handed regulation they have no say in from the EPA. But I guess greed beats out rationality.

Unfortunately, this bill ends the EPA authority (4.00 / 4)
to act on this issue.  That's supposed to be an incentive to get Blue Dog types on board, but they keep demanding more.  There's a much stronger, more organized progressive left on the health care issue than there is on climate/energy right now, unfortunately.

[ Parent ]
Why? ... (0.00 / 0)
the cynical side of me says that they see they'll never get the votes of the Bayh Dogs  ... which means it won't get the 60 votes necessary(yeah, I know it shouldn't ... but .. Thanks Harry!!) .. so they've basically said .. F-ck it!!

Well said (4.00 / 1)
I hope someone at Climate Progress sees this post.  

You got your wish. (0.00 / 0)
Here's my post, and Joe Romm's response:

"Over at Open Left, a challenge to Joe Romm:

In fact, Climate Progress has never directly attacked the actions of the Agriculture Committee in the same way that it has repeatedly, and sometimes viciously, attacked environmental groups that criticize of the bill from the left.

"Well?

[JR [Joe Romm]: Zzzzz. The piece is utterly incoherent. In any case, the Ag folks haven't done anything for me to "attack" yet. I have not attacked any enviro groups "viciously." Please back that statement up with links. Note: BTI ain't an enviro group, as I've shown.]


[ Parent ]
great post (4.00 / 2)
I've been wondering the same thing.

Would you consider cross-posting this at Bleeding Heartland so I can front-page it there?

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


I hope (0.00 / 0)
Fallon primaries him again if he votes against W-M or even says he's considering it over Boswell's comments. At the very least it could put pressure on him.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

[ Parent ]
no, Fallon has other plans (0.00 / 0)
for next spring, which have a better chance of success than another primary against Boswell.

In general, Boswell's voting record has improved since last year's primary. His position on Waxman/Markey is quite unfortunate, though.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


[ Parent ]
They're not supporting the bill because it's horrendously bad. (0.00 / 0)
A bad bill is worse than none at all.  What cap-and-trade does is allow polluters to go on polluting while making money from trading carbon credits.  In Europe, such policies have been implemented with disastrous results.  I wrote about this a few  weeks ago, right here on this very web site.  While we dither on passing genuinely good legislation, such as stiff tax penalties on polluters and tighter regulations, the problems we've created grow exponentially worse.  A bill like this does absolutely nothing to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions.



Wanted to add more. (0.00 / 0)
I've got a better idea than passing a weak, ultimately destructive piece of legislation that will undoubtedly be used as an excuse to say we've done all that can be "realistically" done to combat climate change.  I see three main steps for addressing climate change.

1.) Strengthen existing regulations and pass new ones that exact heavy penalties on polluters, and eliminate loopholes that allow corporate executives to worm out of paying fines by laying off workers, raising prices unreasonably, and changing to offshore tax havens.  One way to close the offshore avoidance method might be to levy stiff tariffs on the goods of polluting companies that equal or surpass whatever amount they would have paid had they stayed in-country and cleaned up their act.

2.) Invest heavily in alternative energy, including research into glucose-based plastics wherein the glucose is derived from agricultural waste and sawdust as opposed to corn needed for food crops.  At the same time, fuel efficiency standards must be raised to 45 miles per gallon within three years.  Invest in public transportation, building buses and high speed rail systems instead of personal cars.  Finally, promote carpooling and other energy-saving methods via ad campaigns.  Remember the phrase, "when you ride alone, you ride with Hitler?"  That's as true today with Global Warming.

3.) This is probably the most important.  We must radically alter our entire agricultural industry.  More greenhouse gases come from the massive livestock industry than from cars.  Simply put, corporate mega-farms need to go, and methods for proper waste disposal must be put in place.  Those lagoons of feces littering the nation's farm landscape put more methane and carbon into the atmosphere than one might think.  Converting it to fertilizer instead of simply storing it in big lakes dug into the ground would go a long way toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Forests must be replanted to help protect eroding topsoil, and efforts to recycle everything that can be recycled (including water and paper) ramped up.

None of this will be at all easy, but they're steps in the right direction.  We're getting dangerously close to a population of seven billion human beings, all demanding adequate food and water.  We can't meet the demands, and this will ultimately lead to nations collapsing all over the world - including ours.  It's only practical to start making necessary changes now, when they're less painful, than to wait until catastrophe has struck when necessary changes will be that much more difficult.  If recalcitrant Democrats won't play ball, and insist on blocking efforts to save the human race from its own excesses, then they need to be removed from office.



[ Parent ]
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