Following up on the earlier news on Graham’s threat, he has officially withdrawn his support for climate legislation.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.