With the Senate’s ineptitude on climate legislation pretty much chiseled in stone, almost all the action at the federal level has shifted to the Environmental Protection Agency. And that has Republican leaders licking their lips because it allows them to use two of their favorite cants: “Big government run amok” and “JOBS-KILLER!”
You gotta have heartland: Already pundits are speculating that if the EPA cracks down too hard on greenhouse-gas emissions or coal ash or even soot, Republicans will use it to bludgeon President Obama in 2012, particularly in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Virginia which depend heavily on coal. Politico‘s Darren Samuelsohn offers a sample from Republican Sen. John Thune, of South Dakota:
Some of the things his administration is proposing are just disastrous in the heartland. If he has any hope of winning votes in the center of the country, then he is going to have to reconsider a lot of these things the EPA and some of his agencies are trying to get done.
Then there’s this slap from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, head of the Republican Governors Association and a man who knows his buzzwords:
I hope Congress will stop the EPA. If Congress is not willing to pass legislation they think is bad policy, they certainly shouldn’t let some nameless, faceless bureaucrats impose those policies on the American people.
And in other green news:
When bad things happen to good ideas: Hate to bring up painful memories, but if you want to comprehend how things went so wrong in the Senate, take a look at Ryan Lizza’s report in the New Yorker on the backroom wheeling-dealing, the White House bumbling, and life-sucking compromises that did in the John Kerry (D-Mass.)-Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) climate bill. Lizza provides lots of behind-the-scenes tidbits, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — who ended up dropping his support — living in mortal fear that Fox News would start hammering him as a stooge of the “cap-and-tax” cabal. Here’s an excerpt:
… back in Washington, Graham warned Lieberman and Kerry that they needed to get as far as they could in negotiating the bill “before Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process,” one of the people involved in the negotiations said. “He would say, ‘The second they focus on us, it’s gonna be all cap-and-tax all the time, and it’s gonna become just a disaster for me on the airwaves. We have to move this along as quickly as possible.’ “
Take the money and run: And here’s another dose of Capitol Hill reality: already this election cycle the oil and gas industry has thrown $17 million at congressional candidates or their political committees. The three big winners so far: Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ($512,000), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) ($465,000), and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) ($221,000) [Open Secrets.org]
Oil in, garbage out: One pretty painless way to save a lot of energy is to stop wasting so damn much food. Research from the University of Texas says Americans waste about 27 percent of the food they buy. Another way of looking at it is that it takes the equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil to produce the food we buy but don’t end up eating. [e! Science News]
American idiot: Rep. Paul Broun, Jr. (R-Ga.) has a slightly different take on what we eat. He recently warned a gathering in Georgia that the Centers for Disease Control will start calling us every day to see if we’ve eaten our fruits and vegetables. Broun, who is actually a doctor, calls it “socialism of the highest order.” Watch the video.
Rare metal jacket: Ponder this: Are we at risk of trading our addiction to oil for a dependence on rare metals controlled by China? [National Geographic News]
I spit on your spin cycle: While we’re talking China, the people there are now crazy about cars and modern appliances, but there’s one gizmo they still can do without — the clothes dryer. [The Washington Post]
Another country heard from: And in Denmark, a government commission says the country could be free of oil, gas, and coal by 2050. It would have to do only two things — generate six times more wind power and ratchet up taxes on fossil fuels by 10. [Scientific American]
Must be something in the water: Scientists from Oregon State are finding high levels of a carcinogen in the Gulf. [Mother Jones]
Chicken of the sea?: Louisiana’s lieutenant governor is trying to rally officials from neighboring states to join him in pressuring BP to shell out $75 million to test Gulf seafood and assure the world that it’s safe to eat. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
Lowering the boom: Passing Prop 23 in California, the thinking goes, will pretty much put a lid on the state’s renewable energy boom. [Technology Review]
Like a shock: Who’d have thunk it? GM is going to start running ads for the Volt, its hybrid plug-in, during that fiesta of beer and pickup trucks known as the World Series. [Advertising Age]