Sen. Rockefeller: Abandon climate legislation

June 17, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

Following up on his vote last week with Senate Republicans to try to overturn EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions threaten public health and welfare, West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockfeller had this to say earlier today:

The Senate should be focusing on the immediate issues before us – to suspend EPA action on greenhouse gas emissions, push clean coal technologies, and tackle the Gulf oil spill. We need to set aside controversial and more far-reaching climate proposals and work right now on energy legislation that protects our economy, protects West Virginia and improves our environment.

The Hill described his statements this way:

…  The opposition of Rockefeller – who chairs the Commerce Committee – to taking up broad global warming legislation could be a blow to the climate proposals.

But the stance by Sen. Rockefeller should really come to no surprise to anyone who has been watching or listening to his increasing hostility toward anyone — Congress or EPA — doing something about climate change. See my previous posts here, here, here and here.

Here’s the rest of Sen. Rockefeller’s statement:

The Majority Leader has indicated publicly that the Senate will have a vote on my EPA bill this year, which is good news. This bill is needed as soon as possible – not only to guarantee that Congress, rather than an unelected regulatory agency, sets our national energy policy, but also to make sure that in this very fragile economic recovery, our manufacturing and energy sectors are able to grow and create jobs.

I also strongly support legislation to develop and deploy clean energy technologies. Senator Voinovich and I have often joined forces – West Virginia and Ohio – when it comes to energy, and we are putting the final touches on a bipartisan bill to advance clean coal technology through carbon capture and storage (CCS). As chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am moving forward with hearings and legislation to fix the oil spill liability laws and help coastal communities and waterways.

Our nation continues to face tough economic times, a serious need for new energy technologies, and a catastrophic oil spill. If – and only if – we keep our eye on the ball and keep the focus on the needs of the people and the economic viability of our communities, I think we can move forward with legislation that makes a real difference. But if we get sidetracked by a bitter fight over more extreme proposals that are little understood and could hurt our economy, especially in energy-intensive states like West Virginia – then we could end up with nothing.

Check out this part again:

But if we get sidetracked by a bitter fight over more extreme proposals that are little understood and could hurt our economy, especially in energy-intensive states like West Virginia – then we could end up with nothing.

A bitter fight over more extreme proposals? Perhaps like a resolution to overturn EPA findings that were little more than those agreed upon by the vast majority of the world’s expert scientists about the serious dangers our society faces if we don’t soon do something to start curbing greenhouse emissions?

So much, I guess, for what President Obama called for the other night in his speech to the nation:

For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked — not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time, but over the last year and a half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry. As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient. Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that someday will lead to entire new industries.


11 Responses to “Sen. Rockefeller: Abandon climate legislation”

  1. tallcotton says:

    Rockefeller seems to have lost touch with reality. The coal industry has held this state in its grip way too long. No doubt the tax money from the coal industry and its high paying jobs is blinding. We need to offer incentives to other industries to become established here, and we need to taper down on our dependence on coal so we aren’t dropped flat when its prosperity ends. We also need to put a firm foot down regarding outlaw mining and the ravages of mountain top removal. These things are destroying Appalachia.

  2. bo webb says:

    I have a suggestion for Rocky. Why not direct all that negative energy toward building a new WV economy? We need new jobs. It appears to me that this Senator has ridden the coat tails of the coal industry so long that either he can’t accept the reality of change or he’s just gotten so comfortable doing the bidding of the WV Coal Assc. that he knows nothing else. Time for change, time to replace Rocky.

  3. Brian says:

    “This bill is needed as soon as possible – not only to guarantee that Congress, rather than an unelected regulatory agency, sets our national energy policy, but also to make sure that in this very fragile economic recovery, our manufacturing and energy sectors are able to grow and create jobs.”

    I hope that Senator Rockefeller realizes he is making the very same argument that the bar owners made against the smoking ban yet I don’t see him decrying that. And Congress did set the policy in giving the EPA the authority in the first place. It is the EPA’s Congressional mandated job to ensure the protection of the environment. Coal is detrimental to the environment. What’s his problem with them doing their ordered job?

  4. Greenspace says:

    One thing is certain. For the time being, the spill in the gulf should be our top national priority.

  5. Jim Sconyers says:

    Rockefeller obviously hates the people of West Virginia – those not part of the dwindling coal industry. He doesn’t want your grandchildren to have a clean sustainable world they can thrive in, or well-paying productive jobs in the coming clean energy economy. None of that for you, West Virginians – my heart belongs to King Coal.

  6. Harryanderson says:

    “This bill is needed as soon as possible – not only to guarantee that Congress, rather than an unelected regulatory agency, sets our national energy policy, but also to make sure that in this very fragile economic recovery, our manufacturing and energy sectors are able to grow and create jobs.”

    Brian raised a relevant point about the preceding statement, and I would like to add to it. Senator Rockefeller seems to feel that EPA “sets our national energy policy.” May I remind the Senator that:
    1. Congress gave EPA authority to enforce environmental, not “energy,” regulation, and EPA rightly addresses the environmental aspects of the issue.
    2. A long series of Congresses and presidents have failed us by not creating a “national energy policy.” If Senator Rockefeller desires such a policy, I suggest that he persuade his squabbling, dysfunctional colleagues to create one.

  7. Don says:

    Senator Rockefeller is not alone when he places the short-term economic interests of his constituents ahead of the long-term economic security of the nation.

  8. Andrew says:

    At last count, the WVa population was 1,819,777 (July 2009). At the end of 2008, coal employment was just over 22,000. What, are the other 1.8 million West Virginians unemployed?

    Rockefeller needs to start representing West Virginia, not out-of-staters who have a financial stake in liquefying WVa’s resources.

  9. Thomas Rodd says:

    Astute observation, Don.

  10. rick abraham says:

    The president said,” for decades we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s addition to fossil fuels…….” Really. Seems it was only thirty years ago the same experts were talking about the fear of an ICE AGE. And it was only about six decades ago we were mining and burning as fast as we could to win a war. Just who has the president been talking to or better phrased, who has he been listening too.

  11. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Mr. Abraham,

    You don’t point to any links or citations about this “fear of an ICE AGE” that you mention … but there’s a common myth, promoted by climate change skeptics and the fossil fuel industry, that scientists believed in the 1970s that the world was headed for an ice age.

    For folks who have an open mind and want to understand such issues better, I’d point to this great post from Joe Romm on Climate Progress, http://climateprogress.org/2008/11/10/killing-the-myth-of-the-1970s-global-cooling-scientific-consensus/ which explains exactly why this is a myth.

    Citing an article in the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (available here http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2008BAMS2370.1), Romm writes:

    “There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age. Indeed, the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.”

    Among other things, the journal article reviews scientific papers from the 1970s and concludes:

    “The survey identified only 7 articles indicating cooling compared to 44 indicating warming. Those seven cooling articles garnered just 12% of the citations.”

    If you have some scientific evidence that says something contrary to this, Mr. Abraham, please share it with Coal Tattoo readers.

    Ken.

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