Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner
California State Senator and environmental booster Byron Sher (D) sent out invitations to a fundraiser recently and listed State Sen. Ray Haynes (R) among his supporters. Trouble is that Haynes is what you might call a movement conservative, given to labeling people like Sher “clean-air Nazis” and “environmental wackos.” Sher’s office explained the incident to the Riverside Press-Enterprise as a “typographical error.” A typo? That sounds a bit like Handgun Control typing up an invite to a fundraiser and accidentally getting an itchy finger and OOPS! whaddya know? Charleton Heston is listed as a sponsor! How could THAT have happened?
So, always eager to bring you the back-story, we reached Sher’s staff to get the skinny.
Turns out it was a printer error. Sher Chief of Staff Kip Lipper (now an honorary member of Muckraker greatest-names-of-all-time club) says that when the print shop lays out an invite, it typically puts the names of all 40 state senators on the original and then edits out unwanted names later. This time it missed one. Haynes has not, in fact, decided to join Sher on his environmental crusade, but Lipper assures us that while the pair rarely agree on policy, they have a warm personal relationship.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, following on the heels of a similar Sierra Club campaign earlier this year, just finished running a series of radio ads aimed at a handful of lawmakers who voted against the Defense of the Environment Act, Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) bill that would eliminate the use of anti-environmental “riders” on larger pieces of legislation. Among those targeted by NRDC: Reps. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), John Hostettler (R-Ind.), Steve Kuykendall (R-Calif.), Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), Anne Northup (R-Ky.), James Rogan (R-Calif.), Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and John Sununu (R-N.H.).
Some of these folks seem like obvious choices for political pressure, coming from swing districts crucial to control of the House. But why McCollum and Mollohan?
McCollum doesn’t generally break a sweat campaigning in his solidly GOP district, but he happens to be gearing up for a Senate bid next year in Florida, a major swing state with huge presidential importance. McCollum could certainly run into trouble over the environment, abortion, and other issues.
As for Mollohan, there hasn’t been a competitive House race in West Virginia since … well, since this columnist can remember. NRDC Director of Programs Greg Wetstone points out that Mollohan is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls funding for the EPA (who knew?) and so has a lot of pull. He is also the only West Virginia Democrat to oppose the Waxman bill and buying radio time in the Mountaineer State doesn’t exactly break the bank. Conscientious green groups also can’t very well run ads targeting only Republicans, so Mollohan got the nod.
Wetstone says the NRDC’s limited ad buy has had a nice impact, particularly with the free media these mini-buys tend to generate (like this item). “This is an issue that’s huge for us. There’s not a lot else this Congress is likely to do beyond the budget,” he says. “These riders are really the game.”
Those lucky enough to be hanging around the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee last week got to witness an increasingly rare Washington moment: a Republican agreeing with a Democrat. Don’t stop reading, thinking your humble columnist has cracked under pressure. You read right. A bevy of bipartisanship broke out. Of course, it was between two folks testifying before the committee and not actual members of Congress, but hey, we take what we can get.
New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) came to Washington to talk about a congressional effort to use revenue from offshore drilling to help fund land preservation programs. Both govs embraced the effort and, as governors are wont to do, encouraged Congress to let the states decide what to do with the not insubstantial windfall. For good measure, former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta jetted in from California to put his stamp of approval on the proposal.
The wrangling now is over how to avoid encouraging more offshore drilling and whether or not to require that states spend revenues on specific environmental programs. So relax, there is still a chance that the partisanship we know and love could reemerge and dunk this popular effort.
The industrial plant emissions issue that this column latched onto weeks ago continues to dog Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R). Now enviros are accusing Bush of encouraging polluters to contribute to his presidential exploratory committee (companies cannot by law contribute to state-level candidates) in exchange for Bush’s support of legislation that would keep standards on older plants voluntary. The story has picked up steam recently with reports in the Houston Chronicle and the Associated Press as well as in Molly Ivins’s column. Muckraker will continue to keep you ahead of curve.
Kyoto Haiku Winner
OK, the moment you have all been waiting for. Admit it, you know you have. We unveil the winner of the vexing Kyoto haiku challenge that asked you, dear reader, to distill the meaning of the global warming accord into lilting, lyrical verse. And the winner is … Ian Burke, who slyly penned these timeless words in the proper 5-7-5 syllable format:
me right!” cries planet. Warm tears,
seas rise on deaf ears.
Congratulations, Ian. We think you should polish your resume in anticipation of the next opening for U.S. poet laureate. More contests will appear in the future.