Senate Finance Committee

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) knows that his state’s trees are being ravaged by warming-driven pests now and that Montana faces 175% to 400% increase in wildfire burn area if we don’t reverse course sharply and soon on greenhouse gas emissions.  That’s why he supports strong climate action and said last week, “There’s no doubt that this Congress is going to pass climate change legislation.”

Bizarrely, though, his Finance Committee will hold an utterly missable hearing today on the “future of jobs” under clean energy legislation that has a witness list stacked with fossil-fuel-industry-funded polluters and deniers.  Wonk Room has the story, excerpted below:

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Appearing before the committee are four industry or conservative lobbyists and one coal-industry union lobbyist, Abraham Breehey. The only economist to testify will be Margo Thorning, a lobbyist for the anti-tax American Council on Capital Formation. Also testifying is Carol Berrigan, a nuclear industry representative, Van Ton-Quinlivan of Pacific Gas & Electric, and American Enterprise Institute fellow Kenneth Green.

Green regularly spouts anti-scientific nonsense like, “We’re back to the average temperatures that prevailed in 1978….  No matter what you’ve been told, the technology to significantly reduce emissions is decades away and extremely costly” — from a 2008 speech AEI later removed from their website (excerpts here).  Last month, Green weirdly compared EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to Clint Eastwood and carbon polluters to criminals.

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One could point out that Berrigan’s organization, the Nuclear Energy Institute, is not satisfied that clean energy legislation will spur nuclear energy through free-market competition, but is demanding massive subsidies and tax breaks as well.

One could point out that ACCF and AEI have received millions of dollars in funding from Exxon Mobil alone, or that Thorning refuses to reveal her methodology and Green has tried to buy climate scientists for $10,000 a pop.

Instead, let’s just note that tomorrow’s testimony will likely rehash the talking points that these witnesses have delivered time and again for the past ten years. Other than Ton-Quinlivan, who is appearing for the first time before Congress, the witnesses are regulars on the Hill, testifying a combined 20 times on climate and energy policy since 2002. Thorning has been the most frequent guest over the years, and this will be Green’s fifth time testifying since June.

Margo Thorning:

Kenneth P. Green

Carol Berrigan:

Abraham Breehey

If the Finance Committee is really trying to learn something new about whether reforming our pollution-based energy infrastructure would create new jobs, one would think they could have put a little more effort in witness selection.


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