It’s got to be tough being Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid these days. His approval rating is 36% and he is trailing Republicans by 8 points for his re-election bid. He is getting absolutely shelled in the media, the right, and some of the left for his bonehead remarks about Barack Obama’s viability as an African American candidate for president. Joe Lieberman is likely the only Senator the progressive left is more frustrated with for the final state of the Senate health care bill next to Reid. Reid has to negotiate with the likes of Senators Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu for every piece of progressive legislation. He’s in danger of losing his Democratic super majority to a Republican in Massachusetts!? You know the dysfunctional Senate that progressives and climate activists have been railing against? Reid is in charge of that mess! Next to Obama, Reid has to bear the brunt of everyone’s frustrations and outbursts over the fact that the Senate screws everything up.
So why in the world should the environmental and climate community have this guy’s back right now? Because with all the crap Reid has on his plate, he has held his ground on two of our most important issues to this point.
#1. Conservative coal state Democrats have been whining for a long time now that the Senate shouldn’t touch climate legislation this year, and instead pass a lousy renewable energy bill that passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year. More than ever, the mainstream media has been drinking the kool-aide and recycling the same complaints from the same Senators that climate legislation is dead. As is no secret by now, the Democrats prospects in the 2010 midterm elections look in the toilet. I don’t know about you, but I want us to pass clean energy and climate legislation that puts a price on carbon, and lives up to our weak yet important international obligations for emissions reductions, fighting international deforestation, and providing adaptation and mitigation aid. With the Senate looking to take on a major jobs bill, financial reform, and finish health care, it would be very easy in an election year for Reid to give in and kick the can down the road. At times, it’s seemed that’s what was going to happen.
But Thursday in a speech to the Geothermal Energy Association’s Finance Forum, Reid made numerous assertions that passing clean energy and climate legislation was very important to him, and that he was looking to get it done this spring.
“Finally – and perhaps most importantly – Congress needs to send the market a clear signal on the costs of global warming pollution to drive far greater investments into geothermal and every other form of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
“As you know, the House has passed a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that does many of these things. I support addressing each of these issues in the Senate’s version, and I expect that to happen this spring.”
Reid also said towards the end “taking on the clean-energy challenge also may be the most important policy we will ever pass. And we cannot afford to wait any longer to act.”
Now some of you might be saying,” alright, well I think the current climate legislation on the table is a load of garbage, I’d just as soon see nothing pass.” Fair enough. I disagree with you, but fair enough. But this is where we come to number two.
#2. The Clean Air Act is under attack by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is trying to stage a floor flight to add an amendment aimed at halting EPA regulations to address climate change. An amendment written for Murkowski by a coal lobbyist whose employers gave Murkowski 35 grand. Yikes! Environmental groups have been gearing up for a fight, and rightfully waging a war to make Lisa Murkowski look bad for trying to destroy her state and corrupt for not asking where that bag of cash came from. I agree, lets go after her, but at the same time that we’re all jumping on Murkowski, we need to all take a minute to thank Senator Reid. Here’s more from his remarks Thursday.
“For example, next week Senator Murkowski of Alaska may offer an amendment – to a completely unrelated bill, it should be noted – that would stop the EPA from protecting Americans from global warming pollution. It’s a highly political move, and a highly hazardous one to our health and the environment. If this Senator succeeds, it could keep Congress from working constructively in a bipartisan manner to pass clean energy legislation this year. That’s why I will work hard to defeat this misguided amendment. I hope that doesn’t come to that. It would be an embarrassment for the United States to fall any further behind other countries, competitors of ours in the global economy whose governments strongly support their own renewable energy companies.”
Score two for Senator Reid!(or one if you want the climate bill to implode). We will need to be pressuring all our Senators to do a much better job of fighting climate change and passing strong clean energy and environmental legislation. That includes Reid.
But we also need to recognize something I don’t think has been said enough. This guy is on our side! He gets it. He has a tough job, and most of the time, we’re going to rightfully make it tougher with our advocacy so he chooses us over Ben Nelson. But at a time where everyone is doing a great job of making Harry Reid’s life more difficult, we need to thank him for his leadership in standing up and taking our side on two of the most important battles we face this year. It will pay off for the climate movement and Reid in the long run.
Reid’s Office # is: 202-224-3542
I think a lot of us forgot this video…