The Red Coats are Winning the Climate War in Washington, D.C.
Once again, politics as usual is about to kill us all:
Bill Becker, the head of the Presidential Climate Action Project (which is sadly shutting down operations this month) has stepped up like a modern day Paul Revere and sounded the alarm: The Red Coats are marching on Washington! In fact they are already occupying the city:
Although we now have a President publicly committed to large scale alternative energy development, the political facts of life are that in Washington D.C. the green-energy lobbyists are badly outnumbered. There are more than 2,300 lobbyists working the climate issue in Congress -- a 300 percent increase over the past five years -- but only one in eight of them represents the clean energy side of the climate issue.
That's only 287 lobbyists (mostly volunteers) standing against over 2014 highly-paid professional lobbying organizations who are pushing hard to pressure congress into subverting the President's alternative energy proposals into simply drilling for more oil (offshore and in the Alaskan Wilderness), crushing a few drops of oil out of tons of shale (strip-mining the American west), and building more natural gas pipelines (natural gas still puts out tons of climate-warming CO2 when it is burned).
In his statement, Mr Becker makes it clear that the Red Coats are winning the war:
"The Center for Public Integrity estimates that lobbyists spent $90 million on climate issues last year – and the evidence suggests that the forces of stasis had the bigger budgets. What evidence? Look at how energy, economic and climate issues are being framed in congressional debate and, by extension, the media and the public arena:
- The energy debate keeps regressing to arguments over more domestic oil drilling, or gas drilling, or oil shale and tar sands development for “energy independence”. But the real issue, as I have written in the past, is not how much carbon we can take out of the ground; it’s how much we can put into the sky. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon, not proven or potential reserves of fossil fuels, are the correct frame for the energy debate.
- The economic debate in Congress dwells on how investments in a green economy are placing a horrible debt on our children. But as I’ve written before, the more important issue is carbon debt – the irreversible, catastrophic, costly damage to public health and safety that we are imposing on future generations with every ton of new greenhouse gas emissions.
- Opponents of carbon pricing dwell on the impact of higher fossil energy prices. But those costs can be mitigated through tax relief and other financial mechanisms. The correct frame for the carbon pricing debate is not the cost of fossil fuels; it’s the much higher cost of doing nothing. To put it simply, a future filled with flooding, drought, wildfires, coastal inundation, new disease vectors, heat waves, resource wars, national security threats and other climate-induced maladies is much more expensive than a future in which we have mitigated those impacts and adapted to those that already are inevitable.
- A key part of federal economic recovery strategy has been to bail out corporations that are “too big to fail”. Let’s hope that in the upcoming debate over climate bills in Congress, we hear the argument that if we want to restore prosperity and security, it’s the biosphere that’s truly too big to fail. The CEOs in charge of its health right now are the world’s leaders, including the members of the United States Congress.
If the green lobby were winning the battle on Capitol Hill, they rather than the lobbyists for the old energy economy, would be framing the national discussion over climate and energy policy with the right questions. So far, that hasn’t happened."
-- Bill Becker
So is it hopeless? Is the battle of Capitol Hill already lost? It is only human nature that leads too many people to think, "Hey, we've done our job, we elected Barrack Obama didn't we?" But that's like sending just one solider to fight a war.
Those who want the President to win the battle for clean energy in America needs to actively e-mail not only their own Congress person, but those from other states as well. Concentrate on those representatives who seem to be "on the fence" who can hopefully be persuaded to back the President and resist the Big Energy status quo. Only the email pressure from millions of voting Americans, constantly applied on this issue, can effectively counter the influence of the lobbyists.
Bill Becker's full statement can be found at:
For the 100-day plan developed by the Presidential Climate Action Project (get it before they shut down!):