Getting Nowhere On Global Warming
Although I don’t expect Nancy Pelosi to do the right thing and remove John Dingell from his spot as Chief Obstructionist on global warming legislation, she should. As chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Tailpipe John” has been allowed to strangle any meaningful attempt at comprehensive global warming legislation, while he continues to pocket campaign contributions from Detroit automakers. Dingell has worked to remove increased fuel economy standards from the draft bipartisan energy legislation because he allegedly wants a broader energy bill. In reality, he is killing any real chance at getting an energy bill out of this congress by insisting on a carbon tax that has no chance of passage, and by rejecting increased fuel economy standards or a bipartisan cap-and-trade approach, rendering the Democrats’ promises of action after the last election as another broken promise. It is a situation that plays right into the hands of the Bush Administration, which talks a good game but doesn’t want to actually pass and implement anything that would curb greenhouse gas emissions, and would rather pass that problem like Iraq onto its successor.
Bill Clinton and the NYT editorial page today correctly observed that the Bush Administration hides behind China and India as an excuse to do nothing on curbing emissions. But why should either of them move first when we haven’t moved at all, or set the example by committing to a significant reduction ourselves? By blaming China and India, Bush gets to blame someone else while he has done nothing in seven and soon to be eight years. Until this country moves first and then pressures China and India to adopt similar reduction measures as a condition for continued trade benefits from this country, nothing will be done to curb global warming, even as the UN waits for us to lead. And John Dingell knows it, as does George W. Bush.
The Democratic candidates need to make the case, as Bill Clinton does, that pursuing an agenda to curb and eventually reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be an economic plus for the United States, as well as a global necessity. There is an opportunity to turn the global warming discussion into a debate about our values, by tying trade to environmental progress. Is your next trip to WalMart to buy another cheap, lead-contaminated toy or tainted pet food from China worth it, when your money is buying the destruction of this planet and America's job base?