Sen. Byrd: A vote for Murkowski resolution is a vote ‘to dismiss scientific facts’ about climate change

June 10, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

Here is Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s statement explaining his vote against the Murkowski greenhouse gas resolution:

“I believe that the measure that we are being asked to vote upon today is extreme. The Murkowski Resolution before us today is being presented to the Senate in a most unusual fashion. A “Disapproval Resolution” limits this great institution’s ability to conduct an open and thorough debate. This measure prohibits Senators from offering amendments. For those keeping score at home, in this political climate, it is usually the members of the minority party who are blasting the majority party for not allowing amendments on any and every measure that is brought to the Senate floor for debate. Yet, the Resolution offered by Senator Murkowski, a member of the minority party, with co-sponsors who are mostly members of the minority party, suppresses debate on this very important topic.”

“Now, I would be the first one to argue in this chamber that it is the members of the legislative branch who should be setting policy concerning the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. We should be doing that. If we are serious about addressing this issue, all of us in this body should, in a bipartisan manner, debate and move forward as soon as possible on a comprehensive energy policy, including a discussion of climate change issues.”

“The Senate owes it to the American people to do something other than hold a political vote on the Murkowski “Disapproval Resolution,” which has zero prospects for enactment. Even if it did pass the Senate, the House Leadership has indicated that it would not bring it to the floor for a vote, and the President has issued a veto threat. Even if it did pass, it would not alleviate our well-founded uncertainty about the future.”

“Many leaders in Congress and around the Nation have been hard at work for the past several years in designing federal energy legislation that will ensure a better future for America’s coal miners and other workers, while also making long-overdue investments in new, high-growth American industries.”

“The Congress should be debating a new energy policy that makes the best possible use of our abundant coal reserves while transitioning America into a position less dependent on foreign oil, less beholden to the special interests of giant multi-national corporations, and more responsive and proactive in meeting Americans’ desire for cleaner and more abundant sources of energy. I understand that the Senate Democratic Leadership is willing to move forward on an energy bill that includes a clear-cut pre-emption for action by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

“I have been working with many of my colleagues to help shape a bill that will be good for the future of coal and the coal industry in my home State of West Virginia. Having a seat at the table and being open to discussions on these matters has enabled me to add provisions relating to clean coal technologies, job creation, and transitions to new jobs to proposed legislation. And I have secured commitments to provide billions of dollars for constructing the next generation of cleaner coal-fired power plants, and am currently negotiating for billions more to support businesses and job creation in the West Virginia region, as well as to improve highways, broadband access, and other critical infrastructure and economic development services for the people, entrepreneurs, and businesses that will make West Virginia stronger in the future. These provisions are beneficial for my home state of West Virginia and for the people of the entire Appalachia region.”

“The Murkowski “Disapproval Resolution” overturns the “endangerment finding.” This in essence is like voting to assert that there is no climate change or global warming going on, and to dismiss scientific facts that already exist. As I have pointed out before, to deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia needs to stay at the table, as should all Senators who have concerns about our energy policy.”

“Finally, mark my words, the regulation of greenhouse gasses is approaching, whether done by Congress or by regulation, despite naysayers who rail about the non-existence of climate change.”

“This Resolution, I fear, would have a sweeping impact. It could preclude action to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. It could delay critical investments in clean coal technologies. That’s not a national energy strategy I can or want to support. My vote today against the Murkowski Resolution is a vote for coal’s future and my intention to continue to have a seat at the table and a voice for West Virginia in how we legislate our energy future.”

9 Responses to “Sen. Byrd: A vote for Murkowski resolution is a vote ‘to dismiss scientific facts’ about climate change”

  1. Monty says:

    I never thought I’d live to see the day we elected a black president. That happened.

    I never thought I’d live to see the day when Robert C. Byrd was saying the things he’s saying about coal, global warming and West Virginia having to either embrace change or get left behind.

    Maybe we’ll go two for two in my lifetime?

  2. Wilma Lee Steele says:

    Thanks Senator Robert Byrd,
    I am so proud to have someone in office that is never afraid to stand up for the truth! Others need to get the coal dust out of their eyes so the can see more clearly – age hasn’t even dimmed Byrd’s vision.

  3. Thomas Rodd says:

    Monty and Wilma Lee — Amen!

    Last month a I heard a great talk by a Harvard professor at the University of Charleston about how the humanities can bring a crucial dimension of intelligence and wisdom to our public life. The speaker cited Senator Byrd as a prime example.

    Byrd, of course, is an amateur historian of some note (and also he was for many years one heck of a fiddler — probably still pretty good). He understands how great empires like Rome failed to keep up with the times — and perished. Like Monty and Wilma Lee, I am proud of him today.

  4. Thomas Rodd says:

    Here’s a quote from today’s Climate Progress blog (

    “Think of the Chinese coal industry the same way you would about Massey Energy, an interest group that has strong backing in the political establishment. There are other factors at play, too- coal is mined in the more remote interior regions, where jobs are scarcer. The main coal region is important to the CCP genealogy, since it’s near the cradle of the communist movement of the 30’s and 40’s. It’s not a very efficient industry, but it employs a lot of people, and jobs are a sensitive issue right now. Countering this are NGO’s in China similar to our own, as well as the disastrous recent weather- drought in northern China, and flooding and typhoons in the south.

    “Fundamentally, though, the Chinese attitude was most on display when they sent a low level diplomat to the session that Obama chaired in Copenhagen. With the US in particular so niggardly in its concessions to the developing world, why should the Chinese make sacrifices? There is also the matter of the West’s responsibility for over 75% of the excess CO2 currently in the atmosphere. The issue of justice is real to them. This means that the West, particularly the United States, should lead in reducing emissions.”

    “China can actually move much faster than the US if circumstances so indicate.” etc., etc.

    The Massey comparison is interesting, no?

  5. Dennis Wellman says:

    The US Constitution is Dead! Unelected breaucrats making and enforcing laws which will cost Americans millions dollars through higher energy bills, not to mention the thouands of energy related jobs right here in WV. This is not just about coal. Just wait and see what happens to your electric bill, gasoline prices, natural gas prices and the price of new autos. We’ve rejected one career politician in the recent primary and a few more need to go. Thanks you, Jay Rockefeller, this is the first vote you’ve made in a loooong time that I support.
    Remember – Earth First – We’ll mine the other planets later!!

  6. berdawn says:

    Senator Byrd has courage; too bad Senator Rockefeller doesn’t. Massey must be thrilled that the other environmental disaster has taken the spot light off of UBB.

  7. […] the U.S. Senate was fiddling around this week with the Murkowski resolution (see here and here), international climate treaty talks continued in Brussels.  In the wake of the Senate […]

  8. Vernon says:

    Dennis, if every pollutant and drug needs an act of Congress to be identified and regulated as such, Congress will have no time to do anything else. The EPA is doing their job, as part of the Executive Branch of government, in enforcing the laws passed by Congress. You’re proposing to kill the Constitution by taking away their constitutional authority. The coal industry is gnashing its teeth because now the EPA is enforcing the laws, and outlaws don’t like the law enforced.

  9. For years while working for an Ohio Newspaper, I was assinged to cover coal mineing on the S.East section of Ohio. I cried while photographing many of these sites with the tops clear to get to the coal. What is happening to your mountain tops is to horrible to look at. This is Gods Earth, he loan it to us, not to tear it up like this. These kind of battles are hard to fight, but fight you must. My God I want my Great Grand son to walk these hills of beauty.

    Ted Walls, Photographer

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