At the United Nations, President Obama tried desperately to convince the international community we have entered a “new era,” one in which the United States was serious about tackling global warming. His allies in the U.S. Senate do not appear eager to address the issue, as they used parliamentary procedures to dodge tough climate-related votes on the Interior-Environment Appropriations bill.
Dodge Number One
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) attempted to offer several climate-related amendments, including one that would have forced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct an investigation into alleged suppression Dr. George Carlin’s research. President Obama has been a ferocious critic of the politicizing scientific research “to advance predetermined ideological agendas.” Such an investigation would seem to be a non-partisan, non-ideological issue.
However, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) blocked Barrasso’s amendment, claiming her objection “has nothing to do with the distinguished Senator, whom I respect enormously. It does have something to do with putting climate change in this bill.” Putting “climate change” in the bill? The committee report, which she submitted, uses the word “climate” 34 separate times.
Dodge Number Two
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) attempted to offer an amendment that would have prevented the unelected bureaucrats at EPA from implementing a de facto cap-and-trade program. Even though Murkowski has expressed concern over global warming, she believes the EPA’s approach is “is one of our worst options to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.” She is in not alone in that sentiment. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN), Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), and even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have all expressed similar concern. Again, this would appear to be a non-partisan, non-ideological issue.
However, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) blocker her amendment without explanation. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was “pleased that the rules of the United States Senate did not allow this very dangerous amendment to be brought before the body.” Dangerous amendment? EPA regulations could capture more than 1 million buildings – including hospitals, schools and churches – in a complex and costly regulatory web.
Public Outcry Reaches the Senate
The Senate was designed to insulate legislators from the whim and passions of the citizenry. It is quite clear, however, that Senators are responding to the increased public skepticism in government and in global warming science. Senator Thune succinctly described the situation facing the Senate:
“From what I hear about the whole debate on climate change and cap-and-trade legislation that has passed in the House, it won’t be voted on in the Senate this year and the reason it won’t be voted on is because there are a lot of people in this chamber who don’t want to have a vote because they know it is a bad vote for them to make.”
By avoiding tough climate-related votes, the Senate is signaling that global warming is quickly becoming a political third rail.