Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 17, 2010

SCALING BACK CLIMATE EXPECTATIONS EVEN MORE.... Yesterday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) made one of the more depressing comments of the week, saying, "The climate bill isn't going to stop the oil leak. The first thing you have to do is stop the oil leak."

This, of course, was a seasoned Democratic senator practically reading the Republican talking points, word for word. The message, at its core, is absurd. Obviously, combating climate change will not stop oil gushing into the Gulf, but since senators can't plug the leak anyway, they might choose to make good use of their time by approving a comprehensive energy/climate bill that would make more drilling less necessary in the future.

All evidence now suggests actually dealing with global warming isn't going to happen. The White House is still committed to cap-and-trade, but the prospects of a grand bargain producing 60 votes have all but disappeared.

Obama went into full woo-mode Wednesday after his Tuesday night address to the nation, meeting with moderate Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and inviting a bipartisan group of Senators to the White House next week for a high-stakes powwow to jump-start the issue, which has languished in the Senate in the year since the House passed its sweeping cap-and-trade climate bill.

Moderates in both parties said that an energy bill of some sort was a real possibility, but a cap on carbon emissions or a new carbon tax probably won't be in the mix.

Brown said after the meeting with the president that he wasn't interested in backing a national energy tax or a cap-and-trade proposal, "but I am very excited about working with him in a bipartisan manner to come up with a comprehensive energy plan to address a whole host of issues -- wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, conservation, incentivizing businesses."

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) told Roll Call, "At the end of the day, my guess is [the White House] won't push [cap-and-trade] that hard. I think the president wants it. ... I just don't think there's 60 votes to do that, even with the oil spill."

"Even with the oil spill" seems like the key part of those comments. In effect, we're looking at a rare opportunity -- the last, best chance to pass a modest, reasonable package to reduce carbon emissions and finally address the climate crisis. And "even with the oil spill," the Senate just doesn't want to.

It will be years before anyone even tries to consider such a plan, and the problem will only keep getting worse.

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

This, of course, was a seasoned Democratic senator practically reading the Republican talking points, word for word.

Imagine my surprise.

Posted by: Gregory on June 17, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"The climate bill isn't going to stop the oil leak"

Gathering up about 100 useless senators, carefully stuffed into the well might be enough to do it, though.

Posted by: qwerty on June 17, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

nearly every major legislative issue our nation has had over the last 220 years has been bollocks up by the Senate. This is getting too damn ridiculous.

Here's an idea for a Constitutional Amendment: divide the legislative responsibilities. Let the House of Representatives alone deal with legislation covering budgets, regulations, health care, environment reform, business reform, education reform, etc. Let the Senate handle treaties, judicial and cabinet nominations, and oversight of military affairs/war conduct. Take the Senate - a house that can't handle the needs of a majority because of the lack of true representation by population (small-state Senators able to block large-state needs) - out of the equation on issues we need fixing NOW.

Posted by: PaulW on June 17, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing short of a massive public grassroots movement or ridiculously obvious and expensive directly attributable global warming effects will move them.

It will happen, unfortunately. Would be far better to do it now.

Posted by: Buford P. Stinkleberry on June 17, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

There is a growing susurrus across the land, and if you listen carefully you can make out the words, "drill, baby drill!"

The reasoning goes: "It was a one-time accident, can't happen again, and besides we need the jobs! (and the oil. . .)"

Posted by: DAY on June 17, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Sen. Dianne Feinstein ca. 1862:

This transcontinental railroad bill isn't going to win the Civil War. The first thing you need to do is win the war.

Posted by: scott_m on June 17, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I absolutely hate when Democrats act like complete pussies.

Posted by: mistamatic on June 17, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

EPA regulations, bitchez.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on June 17, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK
It will be years before anyone even tries to consider such a plan, and the problem will only keep getting worse.

That's too bad cuz we don't have any years remaining to fix it.

Practically every environmental headline is a tipping point for some creature or place. We're simply out of things that can be profitably destroyed.

We are even running out of Breathing Oxygen.

Posted by: cwolf on June 17, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

The Senate doesn't want to deal with energy,unemployment, the war in Afghanistan, you name it.

The Senate will deal with protecting tax breaks for campaign contributors.

Our political system is hopelessly corrupt, and an even more hopeless failure. Sooner or later, desperate people will turn to a tyrant who will show these bums the door -- preferably violently.

Posted by: JMG on June 17, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Goddamn Scott Brown's shit-filled soul to hell.

Posted by: ahoy polloi on June 17, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

I don't for one minute believe the senators give a fig about what the public wants and needs, They call something 'impossible' if wealthy people--who their policies have made more & more wealthy--object to.

I like the idea above of dividing legislative responsibilities noted above.

Posted by: jjm on June 17, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

1) Feinstein is a self-serving ass. To get her support for anything, you must put something in the bill that will benefit her family financially.

2) Everyone from Arkansas seems to be corporately owned and not give a shit about the future of our country or our planet.

3) Maybe when the oil starts reaching the east coast the amerikan sheeple will wake up to the future devastation of our planet. Even if they do, our politicians are so corporately owned that short term profits and increasing the wealth of the wealthy will continue to take precedence over saving the planet.

We are f*cked. We are totally f*cked. Maybe this planet deserves what is coming.

Posted by: SadOldVet on June 17, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Did Feinstein, seasoned senator, vote Republican for de regulation of oil industry? Does D. Feinstin understand the deficit will be decreased if jobs ( other than oil) were made available with new industries and new employment opoortunities?

Posted by: MLJohnston on June 17, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

It seems I find myself doing this several times a year, but here goes; on behalf of California Democrats, I apologize to the nation for the continued presence of Senator Useless in the United States Senate.

I've tried to get rid of her. I really have.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on June 17, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

A side note: The Roll Call piece calls him "Moderate Sen. Scott Brown," eh? It makes me sick that the media have now anointed him with this appellation, arming him with the same impenetrable defense that allows Snowe and Collins to keep getting re-elected. Damn you, mainstream media-- you're going to force me to continue my boycott of the Bay State indefinitely!!!

Posted by: The Caped Composer on June 17, 2010 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

No, the first thing is to get rid of Feinstein, Vitter, Lieberman, Ensign, Lincoln, McCain, McConnell, Cornyn, Burris, Bunning, Demented, Grassley, Hatch, Inhofe, (started going alphabetical there, did you see that?), Lugar, Asshat, Douchebag, Fuckface.. All those people are a much greater disaster than filling the Sewer of Mexico with more oil.

Posted by: Trollop on June 17, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Climate change, second only to Financial reform, shows just how utterly corrupt the political system of the United States has become.

As I have said many times in the past, when what few survivors of the human race get around writing the histories of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, front and center will be complete failure of US 'Democracy' to deal with long term complex societal problems.

Posted by: thorin-1 on June 17, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's DiFi....'nuff said.

I've voted against her almost every primary since her first Senate run. Sadly she has won all her primaries. I'm hoping she chooses to retire next time as she's getting a little long in tooth.

Posted by: kindness on June 17, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, a new high point in the war against multi-tasking. Not only can the Senate not work on two things at the same time (e.g., Health-Care Reform and anything else), they can't work on something if someone someplace is working on something that's even vaguely related. You'd think they're all on site in Louisiana personally supervising the capping and the cleanup.

What a waste of oxygen that chamber is.

Posted by: Don K on June 17, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Had this been a terrorist attack that killed 11 civilians and exploded a dirty bomb all over the Gulf Coast or something, Feinstein would have introduced sweeping legislation in literally 20 minutes to completely overhaul all of America's security priorities because when "something like this happens, we have to act immediately."

Can you imagine a senator after 9/11 opposing the Patriot Act because "our first priority should be rebuilding at Ground Zero"? Yeah. Me neither. Funny how that works.


Posted by: jonas on June 17, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

When they say history repeats itself whoever they were they were right on the money. Can you say Roman Empire.Unfortunately at this juncture in human history things are a lot more serious than one egotistical pseudo-democracy falling apart.

Posted by: Gandaqlf on June 17, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone from CA - OT - Why is Barbara Boxer in trouble? I could understand if it were Feinstein, but I hardly ever hear anything about Boxer.

Posted by: CDW on June 17, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think the CW is wrong and the GOP is making a huge mistake by not taking a deal this year. The oil spill is convincing moderates that a real energy policy overhaul is necessary.

Sadly, it takes a disaster of biblical proportions to convince Americans of the need, but I sense a real sea change (sorry) in Americans' energy outlook. Moderates and liberals agree that the status quo can not be sustained. Starting anew may actually lead to a more comprehensive, progressive policy.

Posted by: danimal on June 17, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Yesterday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) made one of the more depressing comments of the week..."

How many times have I heard that?
Man, I wish she'd retire.

Posted by: Cazart on June 17, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what I don't get. A few months ago, everyone agreed that cap and trade had by the fact that D.C. got a lot of snow this winter. Yet, somehow, this damn near apocalyptic catastrophe in the Gulf isn't enough to resurrect it?

Yes, we're that stupid now.

Posted by: Steve (Not That One) on June 17, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

CDW - I'm not sure Boxer is in trouble. Rasmussen has her at 48-43 over Fiorina and although Fiorina has blanketed the state with ads to win her primary, Boxer hasn't started campaigning yet. Fiorina went pretty far right to win the Republican nomination, to the extent that most of the positions she took are such that no Dem and few moderate independents could possibly vote for her. If Boxer does nothing more than focus on that I don't see how she can lose. Aside from that, Boxer's own record is solidly progressive and her support among registered Dems is strong.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on June 17, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Fiorina has no chance over Boxer. That woman is as shallow and self serving as a gumball machine.

Posted by: Trollop on June 17, 2010 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Now the rest of you get another demonstration from DiFi of why I haven't voted for San Francisco's leading Republican since 1969, when none of us knew what a slime she is.

Posted by: TCinLA on June 18, 2010 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK
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