The Dernogalizer

March 3, 2010

Get in the Game Senator Mikulski

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

I recently made a post on the Chesapeake Climate Action Network(CCAN)’s blog on Senator Barbara Mikulski’s lack of concern when it comes to the Clean Air Act.  Check it out below

Here’s a question: If you’re a legislator and you voted to strengthen a particular piece of legislation, and that piece of legislation later came under threat, wouldn’t you make an effort to protect it? The answer seems logical enough, but then again, as we all know, everyday logic doesn’t always apply to the world of politics.

How else would you explain Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski’s failure stand up to protect the Clean Air Act from the attacks that it’s recently come under from the likes of Lisa “Dirty Air” Murkowski? After all, as the Senate’s Legislation and Records site shows, Senator Mikulski voted for the 1990 amendments that strengthened the original 1970 Clean Air Act, ensuring that it had the teeth it needed to really bite into problems like acid rain. But now when opponents of climate action are trying to knock those same teeth out, Mikulski is standing on the sidelines.

And it’s not as if she hasn’t been given ample opportunity to defend the Clean Air Act against these assaults. As early as last August, Maryland climate activists started asking the Senator’s office if she would fight to make sure that the EPA’s Clean Air Act authority to regulate CO2 emissions was kept intact in the Senate Climate bill. The Senator’s staffers told us that was something she would likely support, but they’d have to get back to us with a definite answer. So naturally we kept asking the question. We asked at another constituent meeting a month later; we asked in follow up calls and emails. We asked again last October as soon as Senator Robert Menendez released his dear-colleague sign on letter to Harry Reid about the importance of preserving the EPA Clean-Air-Act authority. We asked when we put the letter in the hands of the Senator’s staffers. From October 2009 through last week, via hundreds of phone calls and emails, CCAN supporters asked again and again if the Senator would sign the Menendez letter.

Each time, the question couldn’t have been clearer. And each time the response couldn’t have been more equivocal: “We’re looking in to it.”

One would imagine that the Senator has a pretty good reason for her inaction regarding the fate of a bill that she once voted to strengthen – a bill moreover which is a cornerstone of US environmental policy, and whose integrity is crucial to our efforts to fight climate change.

But if she does we certainly can’t figure out what it is. Nothing here seems to add up. If you take into account the Senator’s voting history, her statements about the need for climate action, the solid blue color of her state, and the fact that a large percentage of her constituents identify themselves as environmental voters, you would naturally conclude that signing the Menendez letter would be a no-brainer for Senator Mikulski. It certainly was for Senator Cardin who signed on back in November. So what are we missing here? It would be wonderful if Senator Mikulski would provide some clarification.

I know that I speak for many CCAN supporters and many of the Senator’s constituents when I say that I’m very, very frustrated by this situation. We’ve entered a critical period in efforts to pass national climate legislation. Now more than ever we need our elected officials to stand up and demonstrate clear and unwavering support for strong climate action. Marylanders in particular, given their state’s unique position as the third most vulnerable state in the nation to the effects of sea level rise, need their elected officials to lead the climate policy fight every step of the way. They deserve to see real climate leadership from Senator Mikulski. They deserve an answer to the question: “Will the Senator Mikulski protect the Clean Air Act by declaring her support for the Menendez letter?”

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