June 15, 2007

Support the Earth

Congress has started debating the energy bill and despite the fact that most people realize that we have a genuine crisis on our hands, those that would trade off the earth for their bars of gold are working madly to mush up the bill so that nothing gets done. Thus we have Bush saying he will veto anything that has a hard numerical goal for CAFE standards. And we have Democratic Congressmen Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) giving their loyalty to their paymasters just as was predicted last year. (Fortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has come out strongly against their poison pills.)

And yes, we do have Democrats stepping up boldly to do their part in supporting the earth. Senator John Kerry, guest blogging at Grist, makes it clear this issue is one he wants unambiguous and strong action. (emphasis mine)

The energy bill, as it stands, is not nearly strong enough, so there are a number of amendments that must be adopted to give us a bill that actually gets us started on that path of dealing with our energy crisis and our climate crisis.

But when we tried to bring up the Bingaman amendment that requires the use of alternative energy sources, the Republicans in the Senate simply refused to vote up or down on it, essentially demanding that these amendments get 60 votes to even be considered. The procedural details of what they're doing and our responses get pretty arcane pretty quickly, but as I type this in the midmorning we're currently locked in a battle to move all of this forward.

It's amazing to me that some people still refuse to see the gravity of the situation staring us in the face, with the best science telling us we may only have a decade to act before the climate crisis reaches a dangerous tipping point. But there are the same interests throwing up the same roadblocks. Take CAFE standards -- I and many others are demanding that the standards be raised to 35 mpg by the end of the next decade, with light trucks and SUVs included in that and other mandatory requirements for medium and heavy trucks. And we want to close the loopholes that allow automakers to miss even those targets. But the Bush administration has written to Congress that they are opposed to any numerical requirement in the statute.

Think about that for a moment. They say they want fuel economy to get better, but they don't want to put any numeric requirements about what that means. And they want medium and heavy trucks exempted from even that!

Another area where I'm pushing is to require that at least 20 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. This has been a part of my energy plan since 2002, and I mentioned this over and over (and over) during the campaign in 2004. There has been significant support for this change now in Congress, but there are still powerful interests arrayed against it.

Dogmatic refusal to consider new approaches to this crisis can have such enormous consequences, it boggles the mind how people can do it.

John Kerry is absolutely right. We need a strong bill now to address this crisis. If we are to get any handle on this issue, we must begin with a strong step forward this year. After all, this is only the first step as we begin to deal with our changing world.

Contact your representative and senators to make sure they know you expect action.

Posted by Mary at June 15, 2007 12:38 AM | Environment | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Senator Kerry is heading in the right direction, but his dates are just slightly off. I do some work with the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers and we are supporting the Pryor-Bond-Levin-Voinovich Amenment which raises fuel economy by more than 30 percent. Fuel economy standards for passenger cars would increase to at least 36 miles per gallon average by 2022, and light trucks would increase to at least 30 mpg by 2025. You can read more about us and the amendment at http://www.drivecongress.com.

Posted by: Driver at June 15, 2007 09:02 AM

Thanks for passing the word along on the Bingaman amendment! The Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard would:

  • Reduce global warming pollution from electric power plants;
  • Create brand new manufacturing industries with thousands of new jobs;
  • Revitalize rural communities through the increased tax base and payments to landowners that wind and other renewable energy projects bring;
  • Help meet America's steadily growing electricity demand;
  • Save consumers more than $100 billion through 2026.
  • Readers can also register their support at powerofwind.com

    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association

    Posted by: Tom Gray at June 15, 2007 07:10 PM

    But the science of global warming isn't settled. There is still quite a debate on it in the scientific community. A simple search on Google shows this.

    CAFE standards are meaningless when consumers are demanding higher MPG vehicles. Many of the car companies are already converting most of their fleets to hybrid vehicles. The CAFE numbers are meaningless at this point.

    Nuclear energy is the alternative energy of choice by the other leading nations of the world. That's the direction we should move in.

    Posted by: muckdog at June 16, 2007 02:40 PM

    muckdog - Yes, there's still quite the debate in the scientific community: They can't figure out whether we should be nervous, scared, or terrified about the end of the climatic conditions on which our global civilization depends. Particularly deep are the rifts between the 'we should be scared rigid' and the 'we should be yelling about this at the top of our lungs from morning till night' camps. When those people get into it, watch out.

    CAFE standards are a necessary incentive to make the car companies actually do something, as opposed to claiming that they're on the verge of a really big switch for another decade. We should be done talking at this point, it's time for action. Any person or group that wants to stand in the way of preserving life as we know it should expect to lose say daily in how we should do things going forward.

    I'm provisionally open to arguments about nuclear energy, but your other statements are so lacking in credibility that I don't think you're a very good representative for that viewpoint.

    Posted by: natasha at June 16, 2007 08:30 PM