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Sen. Rockefeller: Abandon climate legislation

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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.