Today is the first hearing on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill in the full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Now that we’re out of subcommittee, the expert witnesses aren’t all cleverly selected special guests of the bill’s authors. So we’re hearing, right now, from people like Anne E. Smith, vice president of CRA International, which represents some, shall we say, unsavory anti-environmental companies.
This is not a mark-up hearing, so the bill won’t be changing shape today. Events like this are in large part Kabuki theater — events with the patina of a fact-finding mission, meant to provide members who already plan to vote “yes” or “no” on the legislation with the expert cover they think they need to do so. But there is, I suppose, the off chance that people like Smith and Dr. Margo Thorning of the American Council for Capital Formation will knock an on-the-fence senator away from supporting this or other, stronger bills.
More likely, though, it will just create an opportunity for Boxer to smack Smith around for not disclosing the fact that her company works on behalf of Arco, Haliburton, Exxon Mobil, and on and on, and for Jonathan Pershing of the World Resources Institute to make people like Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) look like idiots.