Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climate action?

The climate talks in Copenhagen are underway and after months of buildup, what I'm sure will be hundreds of speeches from scientists presenting information and begging action, and consensus that something needs to be done, I'm sure the elected betters of the world will agree....then walk away with no concrete goals or action before returning home to give some speech to their country about buying better lightbulbs.

But with the conference happening, scientists and research organizations have taken the time to release finding after finding in the hopes that facts and figures can spur our world leaders to action the way seemingly only war and bailouts to billion dollar corporations can. Like the report from the World Meteorological Organization that confirmed, yup, that climate change is still a problem. To that end, our own EPA announced that they were going to take the initiative to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases. This decision to meet a universally recognized problem with clear action from a regulatory agency with the power to do something was, of course, met with bitching and complaining from our elected betters.
"The stick approach isn't going to work. In fact, Congress may retaliate," said Mark Helmke, a senior adviser to Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.). "They could stop the funding, and they could change the law."
Some senators who environmental groups hope might vote for a climate bill also said they were unhappy. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) called the move "regrettable." And Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement that she is concerned that the move "will create burdens on American industry without providing any significant environmental benefits."

"I strongly urge EPA to wait for Congress to find a solution," Lincoln said.
Which is to say, Blanche Lincoln wants the EPA to wait until the sun burns out, or perhaps until our great grandchildren are treading water in our new global ocean, wondering how it was all those people in the movie Waterworld were able to build atolls to live on.

Of course the announcement was riddled with statements from the EPA saying how this was a measure of last resort and how they really preferred Congressional action over doing it themselves. I'm not so sure about that one, EPA. The House is the best chance for good legislation and even their bill, Waxman-Markey, is littered with loopholes and bad compromises. Just imagine what the Senate will do. No, their hearts lie with the Chamber of Commerce, who is shrieking about "top down command and control regimes", and the American Petroleum Institute, who declared this action a threat to every American family and business.

But thank you EPA for taking a necessary step to actually do something. I know it'll end up with the Senate attempting to pass some terrible, industry beholden half-measure, but hopefully this will allow for progressive Demcorats to negotiate with the position that "Hey, we don't care what you want, we'll block this bullshit and let the EPA take care of it". Of course they probably won't do that and this whole process will be driven by the whims of Ben Nelson and coal state Democrats, but it's nice that I can dream about a scenario where some good might occur. That possibility is usually ruled out before things ever start.

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