The Dernogalizer

April 24, 2010

Update: Graham Withdraws Support for Climate Legislation

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 9:55 pm
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Following up on the earlier news on Graham’s threat, he has officially withdrawn his support for climate legislation.  This after the Democrats indicated they would prioritize immigration reform over climate legislation.

“The move forced the other two authors of the bill,Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman(I-Conn.), to cancel a news conference planned for Monday that would have unveiled the climate and energy plan they negotiated with Graham, the only Republican who had been participating in the discussions.

In an interview Saturday, Graham said he did not see how the Senate could pass any climate and energy bill this year if Senate Democratic leaders and President Obama pushed for immigration reform, as they suggested they would last week.

“The political environment that we needed to have a chance [to pass the bill] has been completely destroyed” by the push for immigration, Graham said. “What was hard has become impossible. I don’t mind doing hard things. I just don’t want to do impossible and stupid things.”

If Obama doesn’t take control of this fast and force the Senate Dems to back down on immigration reform, this will have been one of the most idiotic moves I’ve ever seen out of Washington DC.   Dave Roberts at Grist sums it up well:

“I can’t imagine Kerry is happy about this. And I can’t believe Obama (or Rahm) will stand by and let Reid do it. The administration has reaffirmed multiple time in past weeks that they want a comprehensive climate/energy bill this year. Obama himself called it a “foundational priority.” Is he willing to let it get lost in the shuffle in a futile bid to save Reid’s ass? If he does he’ll either look powerless over his own party or insincere about his own professed values and priorities. This is test of leadership.

Ironically, the highest ethnic group in support of climate action is Hispanics, according to recent Gallup polling:

“A recent Gallup poll shows 48 percent of Americans think the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated, up from 41 percent in 2009 and 31 percent in 1997, when Gallup first began asking about the issue. But as the Obama administration gears up for this debate, public opinion on the issue shows Hispanics bucking the national skepticism, according to the latest poll, coommissioned by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC). Conducted by Yale and George Mason universities, the poll found that 81 percent of Hispanics believe global warming is happening compared to only 69 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Some 62 percent of Hispanics said they thought climate change was “very bad,” while only 41 percent of non-Hispanic whites thought so. Hispanics were also more convinced about the scientific evidence of global warming, while many whites believed the science remains controversial.

When it comes to the government taking action, 66 percent of Hispanics said tackling climate change should be a “high” or “very high” priority, compared to only 48 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Some 41 percent of Hispanics said a “large scale effort” is required even if it has a big economic cost attached. An impressive 48 percent of Hispanics support the regulation of carbon emissions, compared to 28 percent of non-Hispanic whites. And an overwhelming 70 percent of Hispanics favor cap-and-trade legislation that places a limit on carbon emissions. Only 50 percent of non-Hispanic whites back the idea.

By contrast, only 17 percent of Hispanics support drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, compared to 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
“The Hispanic community has a deep tradition of environmental protection and haa approached the issue with less cynicism than other segments of the population,” says Adrianna Quintero, director of La Onda Verde, a Hispanic outreach arm of NRDC, one of the nations’ largest environmental groups.”

And the impacts of climate change on the Hispanic community will be disproportionate:

“The percentage of Hispanics living in areas where air pollution levels exceed federal air quality standards is consistently higher than it is for any other population,” NCLLL points out. A study by the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations, found that 71 percent of Latinos live in areas with high concentrations of ozone. Their children develop asthma at a rate 2.5 times more than non-Hispanic white children.

Twenty-two percent of Hispanics live below the poverty line and 13.9 million do not have health insurance. As a result, they could suffer more than other segments of the population in the event that floods, heat waves, and severe storms become more frequent as a result of global warming.

Hispanics are also more likely to be directly affected by the consequences of climate change on agriculture, where they comprise a majority of the labor force in states such as California, Florida, and Texas.”

Smart politics would be to take up clean energy and climate legislation first, as its politically popular, further along in the legislative process, and can pass.  Immigration reform legislation is in its early stages, and the word out of DC is it will likely fail.


Senator Lindsay Graham Threatens to Halt work on Climate Bill because of Immigration Bill

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 4:03 pm
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There have been reports that the President and Congress have decided to tackle immigration reform before climate legislation, which will likely doom the ability to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year if its true.  It’s also completely idiotic since Senators Lindsay Graham, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman have been working on clean energy legislation since last fall.  Their bill is ready to go next week.  Climate legislation has already passed the House.  Immigration reform is nowhere as far as I know.  So now Lindsay Graham is threatening to halt his work on the climate legislation if President Obama and Senate leaders move immigration to the front of the line.

I hate to say it, but I can see Graham’s point.  I’m pissed just at the idea that Washington could be this stupid, and Graham/Kerry/Lieberman have been working on this for a long time.  Excerpts are below, along with the letter Graham sent.

“Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) threatened to abandon his effort to push a climate and energy bill Saturday, saying he will only continue if Democratic leaders promise to relinquish plans to bring up immigration legislation first.”

“In a letter to leaders of the effort to enact climate and energy legislation, Graham wrote, “I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success.”

“A source familiar with the negotiations said key players in the climate effort had made “flurries of phone calls over the past twenty-four hours” to ask Senate leaders if they could say they would place the energy bill ahead of immigration. “That was never answered in a satisfactory manner,” the source said.”

“Graham told reporters Thursday he was outraged at the idea that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had raised the idea of bringing up immigration before an energy bill, especially since he and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had spent weeks working on a bipartisan immigration measure and had not been alerted to the change in plans.

“Am I supposed to write every bill for the whole country?” Graham asked. “This comes out of left field.”


Dear XXX,

I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success.

Recent press reports indicating that immigration — not energy — is their priority have not been repudiated. This has destroyed my confidence that there will be a serious commitment and focus to move energy legislation this year. All of the key players, particularly the Senate leadership, have to want this debate as much as we do. This is clearly not the case.

I am very disappointed with this turn of events and believe their decision flies in the face of commitments made weeks ago to Senators Kerry, Lieberman and me. I deeply regret that election year politics will impede, if not derail, our efforts to make our nation energy independent.

I truly appreciate Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and their staff for the long hours of work. They have been tremendous partners who have negotiated in good faith and stood ready to make the tough choices necessary to bring forward a comprehensive energy bill.

I continue to believe our nation’s reliance on ever-increasing amounts of foreign oil poses a direct threat to our national security and economic well-being. I know we can create thousands of jobs by pushing for a renaissance in nuclear power, expanded offshore drilling, and unleashing America’s innovative spirit. One only needs to look to China and Europe, where 21st Century clean energy jobs are currently being created while we fail to act.

Like you, I share the belief that becoming energy independent and better stewards of our environment are complementary — not competing — standards. I was greatly looking forward to the opportunity to address these issues on the floor of the U.S. Senate as we pushed energy independence legislation forward into law. But it appears President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership have other more partisan, political objectives in mind.

Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy. I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress.

In 2007, we spent hundreds of hours over many months with President Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and nearly every member of the U.S. Senate searching for a way to address our nation’s immigration problems. Unlike this current “effort,” it was a good-faith attempt to address a very difficult national issue.

Some of the major provisions we embraced in 2007 — such as creation of a Virtual Fence using cameras, motion detectors and other technological devices to protect our borders — have been scrapped for the time. Other issues we found agreement on at the time, such as a temporary guest worker program, have unraveled over the past three years.

Expecting these major issues to be addressed in three weeks — which appears to be their current plan based upon media reports — is ridiculous. It also demonstrates the raw political calculations at work here.

Let’s be clear, a phony, political effort on immigration today accomplishes nothing but making it exponentially more difficult to address in a serious, comprehensive manner in the future.

Again, I truly appreciate the tremendous amount of time you have committed to the effort to make our nation more energy independent. I look forward to continuing to work with you so that when the U.S. Senate finally decides to address this issue we will be prepared for battle and confident of a successful outcome in the effort to make our nation energy independent once and for all.

Lindsey O. Graham
United States Senator

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