collin petersonPeterson, right, with combine rep: With climate change and big diesel-guzzling combines, we can grow lots of corn!After researching my story last week about the ag lobby’s attempt to turn Waxman-Markey into a cash cow for the agrichem and ethanol industries, I assumed that Waxman would quietly make some unspeakable deal with House ag chief Collin Peterson (D.-Corn) and call it a day. After all, Peterson has been quite credibily threatening to rally farm-state democrats to vote against the bill–unless it turns into a cash cow for the agrichem and ethanol industries (and a thus disaster for everyone else). And without the support of those very farm-state dems, the bill will likely die in the house. So the political landscape looks like: appease Peterson or the climate bill dies. And Waxman really wants a climate bill.

But Waxman has held out admirably, even as the deadline set by House speaker Pelosi looms ever closer. Waxman told The New York Times that he hopes to have a deal by today; we’ll see what happens.

Meantime, let’s check in with Peterson to gauge how he balances the perils of a warming planet vs. the interests of the ag lobby. Here he is, in today’s Wall Street Journal:

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“We’ve just had the biggest floods and coldest winters we’ve ever had,” he said. “They’re saying to us [that climate change is] going to be a big problem because it’s going to be warmer than it usually is; my farmers are going to say that’s a good thing since they’ll be able to grow more corn.”

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In other words: Hey, last winter was cold. Are you sure about this climate change thing? And anyway, even if the planet does warm, WE CAN GROW MORE CORN. Because, you know, growing more corn is all that matters.

And I suppose that’s true, to a point–if you’re an agrichemical company selling farmers the inputs to grow that corn; or a grain-processing firm that profits from buying it cheap and selling it at a profit as corn syrup or beef.

But for the rest of us, it really sucks if this man has the power to dictate climate policy.


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