Senate GOP embrace Inhofe’s boycott of Clean Energy Jobs Act in effort to thwart Copenhagen
The GOP’s approach to climate and clean energy policy has remained the same for decades – obstruction and obfuscation (see “Senate GOP propose 25% ‘Do-Nothing’ energy tax on Americans“). Now, led by James “the last flat-earther” Inhofe, they are trying to stall climate legislation as long as possible, on the flimsiest of excuses, presumably because they want to make sure that there is no Senate vote on the bill before Copenhagen.
The excuse this time is that EPA supposedly hasn’t issued a full analysis of the bill – even though EPA has issued an analysis of the bill (see “EPA releases economic analysis finding cost to U.S. households of under $10 a month, bill consistent with global effort to stabilize at 2°C warming“) pointing out that it has only moderate differences from the heavily-analyzed House bill (Waxman-Markey), none of which would significantly affect the economic conclusions.
The best evidence this excuse is just a pretense is that the GOP never accepted the conclusions of the EPA’s detailed analysis of the House bill (see “New EPA analysis of Waxman-Markey: Consumer electric bills 7% lower in 2020 thanks to efficiency“).
TP reports on the GOP delaying tactics:
Senate Republicans have endorsed Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) plan to boycott the legislative markup of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733), scheduled to begin tomorrow. Inhofe’s GOP compatriots on the environment committee hope to block action by refusing to participate in the markup on the pretext that the Enviromental Protection Agency’s economic analysis of the bill is not “complete.” In a letter sent to committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), ranking member Inhofe and his counterparts on five other committees said any attempt to begin the markup before acceding to his demands “would severely damage” its chances for passage:
“We understand that there may be an attempt to report S. 1733 from the Committee not only without a satisfactory analysis, but also without sufficient opportunity to address the bipartisan concerns raised over the course of legislative hearings on the measure. As we are sure you will understand, from our viewpoint, such an approach would severely damage, rather than help, the chances of enacting changes to our nation’s climate and energy policies
The signatories are the top Republicans on the six Senate committees that will consider this legislation – environment, energy, agriculture, commerce, foreign relations, and finance. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX, ), like Inhofe, flatly deny the reality of climate change. However, several of the signatories have claimed concern about the threat of global warming – Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Dick Lugar (R-IN), who in 2006 warned of the “significant long-term risks to the economy and the environment of the United States from the temperature increases and climatic disruptions that are projected to result from increased greenhouse gas concentrations.” Evidently their commitment to partisan obstruction is greater than their concern for the future of the nation.
Download the letter here.
The Sierra Club has posted the “Top Ten Excuses for not showing up for work on the Clean Energy Jobs bill.” Boxer has extended the amendment deadline to Tuesday night, according to a Washington Times newsletter, and will hold off on the markup of the legislation, saying:
We’re going to be very patient. We’re going to wait for them to come. We’re going to sit there every day and ask them to please come back to the table. We’re not going to rush this through because we don’t think that would be the right thing to do.
E&E News (subs. req’d) reports this morning that Boxer is going the extra mile to accommodate the GOP obstructionist delayers:
Hoping to avert a partisan meltdown, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) yesterday offered an olive branch to Republicans who are planning to boycott today’s markup of a sweeping global warming bill.
Boxer still plans to begin the markup at 9 a.m. with opening statements. But she agreed to suspend the markup at 2 p.m. for an open-door meeting with U.S. EPA officials to answer committee members’ questions about the economic modeling of the legislation, she noted in a letter late yesterday.
EPW Republicans, who ignored yesterday deadline for filing amendments, also now have until 5 p.m. today to submit any suggested changes to the bill.
“We think this is going the extra mile for our friends on the other side, and we really hope they’ll return to the table,” Boxer told reporters. “They have every reason to do that.”
Boxer added that she still retained the right to advance the 959-page bill without Republicans, though she would not say how long she would wait before ending the markup. “I never put a finishing date on any markup,” Boxer said. “I never have.”
She added, “I will tell you this, we’re going to be very, very patient.”
But the GOP delayers don’t want answers to questions – they want delay:
Committee Republicans huddled last night to discuss Boxer’s offer on the question-and-answer s
ession with EPA. Matthew Dempsey, the panel’s GOP spokesman, said he expected Republicans to respond shortly before the start of today’s markup.
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) first made the information request to EPA in July on the economic implications on the climate bill, placing a “hold” on Robert Perciasepe’s confirmation to be EPA deputy administrator until he got answers. Voinovich declined to say whether he would attend the question-and-answer session, which he had heard about only moments earlier when Boxer approached him on the Senate floor.
But Voinovich did say he had no plans to back down on the boycott until he gets a more complete assessment of the climate bill from EPA.
“I think we’ve made it pretty clear that we want a complete analysis of the bill,” he said. “It’s been made clear to her that’s what we want. I think it’s a sensible approach because of the fact this is probably the most important piece of legislation this committee has undertaken since the Clean Air Act itself, maybe even more important.”
Again, from an economic perspective, the bill isn’t much different from the House bill, which has been analyzed to death, not just by EPA, but CBO and EIA:
- Despite its many flaws, EIA analysis of climate bill finds 23 cents a day cost to families, massive retirement of dirty coal plants and 119 GW of new renewables by 2030 – plus a million barrels a day oil savings
- CBO stunner: Waxman-Markey cuts U.S. GHGs sharply but costs only a postage stamp a day – without counting the efficiency savings
And as Boxer herself wrote yesterday:
I want to make sure you are aware that EPA has confirmed that the extensive analysis and supporting materials provided to the Committee are totally sufficient and appropriate for our legislative process. In fact, EPA reports that the analysis provided on the Kerry-Boxer bill and Chairman’s Mark exceeds the analysis typically conducted prior to a markup. EPA has also indicated that this economic analysis reflects hundreds of thousands of pages of backup documentation. It is far more analysis than the 10,000 pages of documentation on the Clear Skies bill that this Committee received in a prior Congress before markup of that legislation.
Even so, one key swing GOP Senator is siding with this delay:
Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) later said that his signature should be seen as a warning signal to Democrats should they expect to get his help in winning over other GOP moderates.
“It would not be constructive as far as progress on the bill is concerned,” Lugar said. “I suspect that there’d be no particular reason for many members to support it.”
My recommendation is to give in to GOP delaying tactics, while continuing to point out how absurd they are.
I see no upside in offending Senate moderates, since this bill will have to be bipartisan to succeed, and we need time over the next couple of weeks for Graham and Kerry and the White House “to discuss a possible compromise.”
Boxer should have the EPA do a “complete analysis” before the mark up – and then watch as the GOP hypocritically denounce the conclusions of it anyway.