Home Energy and Environment How Republicans (Mis)Behave: Greenhouse Gases Edition

How Republicans (Mis)Behave: Greenhouse Gases Edition


Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced “that it will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries next year in an attempt to curb global warming.” This is nothing new or surprising, given that the EPA basically has to do thisper a 2007, Bush-era Supreme Court ruling “that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Air Act by improperly declining to regulate new-vehicle emissions standards to control the pollutants that scientists say contribute to global warming.” At the time, Chief Justice John Roberts – a Republican appointee – dissented, writing that although global warming may be “the most pressing environmental problem of our time,” it was “an issue for Congress and the executive branch.

Fast forward to 2009-2010. On June 26, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives did just what John Roberts said it should do – it acted, by passing H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, by a 219-212 vote. Note that only 8 Republicans voted for this bill, also known as Waxman-Markey, even though it had been heavily watered down/larded up by the coal and power industries, pretty much with everything they wanted (see Climate Wars by Eric Pooley for  a superb account of all this). The rest mostly railed about supposed “job losses” and “cap and tax” and other nonsense of the sort. Why do I say “nonsense?” Because in reality, ” A bill with strong energy efficiency incentives would create a net of 1.9 million jobs, according to in-depth modeling built on collaborative University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California.” In addition, “The same study found that a bill would boost US GDP by as much as $111 billion and increase average annual household income by $1,175 per year. In other words, Republicans were completely wrong about this legislation. They were also wrong to demonize “cap and trade,” given the fact that this was originally a conservative, free-market idea that came out of the Reagan and first Bush administration in part. And, of course, they were wrong to block Congressional action on this issue, given what the Supreme Court said – including Republican appointee Chief Justice Roberts – about how Congress needed to deal with this “most pressing environmental issue of our time.”

Unfortunately, comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation never got through the Senate, mostly thanks to Republican filibuster threats, and the inability of Democrats to round up 60 votes to cut off said filibuster. Keep in mind that Republicans knew, the entire time they were blocking this legislation, that if Congress didn’t act, the EPA would essentially be forced to do so. Which is exactly where we’re at now.

And what are Republicans doing?  Yep, you guessed it; they’re wailing, gnashing their teeth, ranting and raving, whining — all at a situation that they, and a conservative Supreme Court, created themselves. Thus, we get intellect-challenged Republicans like Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington claiming this is some sort of “backdoor approach…intended to circumvent both the people who will be directly affected and Congress,” and whining that the announcement was “made only after Congress adjourned for the year.”

Hahahahahaha. Do these people realize how (unintentionally) hilarious they are? They block action in Congress, then complain that EPA moves forward when Congress is not in session? What a bunch of clowns. But yes, that’s how Republicans behave, and not just on this issue: 1) obstruct; 2) obstruct some more; 3) when that doesn’t work, issue dire warnings and threats; 4) demonize their own ideas; 5) complain when the system works, despite their best efforts to prevent it from owrking; 6) make up phony numbers and dire scenarios about the economy collapsing, the sky falling, etc; 7) ignore independent estimates, whether by universities or the CBO, that prove their numbers and scenarios to be phony; 8) rinse and repeat; 9) scream, rant, rave, wail, whine. In sum: Republicans, they’ve got nothing on petulant 2 year olds!

P.S. By the way, over at Grist, the ever- superb David Roberts puts the EPA announcement in context, given that “most of what I read in the mainstream press is obscure or misleading.” In general, I’d recommend reading Grist, and also supporting it with a donation. Keeping a great publication like that going doesn’t come free, so help ’em out if you can!