Friday, May 22, 2009

Go Speed Reader Go!

For those monitoring markup of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, this week was educational in many ways. In addition to learning all you would ever want to know about woody biomass, we witnessed Congressional parliamentary procedure in all its glory.

One such parliamentary right that both the majority and minority enjoy is that, when an amendment is introduced, the author can demand that the entirety of the amendment is read. While the right is generally waived, in some instances, often when a party would like to stall continuing action on a piece of legislation, it is invoked. We saw this happen during last year's Senate debate of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, bringing debate to a halt for many hours.

In anticipation of a potential repeat, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (CA) hired a speed-reader to pinch hit for the clerk. Graciously, Ranking Member Joe Barton (TX) (eventually) waived his right to see his substitute amendment read, which many observers thought the most likely opportunity for said speed-reader.

However, Mr. Barton didn't want to send the speed-reader home without being able to showcase his talents on a national stage. Watch below for the exchange (via Talking Points Memo):


Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Rare Sincere Note On Final Passage

And now a quick break from our usual over the top snarkiness. Many thanks to every member that voted for passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act out of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. This is a historic step forward in the fight to create new clean energy jobs, better our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and protect our planet for future generations.

Find a full rundown of the committee votes on the LCV Special Edition Scorecard.

A Dark Day for the Yellow Jackets' Department of Science

As debate picked up again this morning on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, an amendment was offered by Rep. Fred Upton (MI) to designate nuclear power as a renewable energy source. There's no doubt nuclear energy is a complex science. We should be lucky then, that Rep. Phil Gingrey's (GA) day job keeps him far away from nuclear reactors. That's because Mr. Gingrey - a graduate of Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry - suggested that uranium, the source of nuclear power, is renewable because it is almost inexhaustible, stating that “uranium may be the most abundant on the periodic table.”

If that seems wrong, that's because it is. Really, really wrong.

According to a basic science textbook (or a precocious middle school student) hydrogen, helium and oxygen not only round out the top three most abundant elements on Earth, they, along with the next 7 elements, account for 98% of all matter! Uranium, which is rare, is listed as a 45th most abundant element by the Department of Energy.

Given the length of the last few days' proceedings, it's always possible, that Mr. Gingrey confused the words "abundant" and "rare." Or perhaps "uranium" and "hydrogen." Or "may be" and "isn't."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shimkus Simpatico With "Corporate Titans" Too!

After awkwardly shapeshifting into a populist fighting for the "little guy" in an oft-repeated refrain yesterday, Rep. John Shimkus (IL) made the equally awkward reversal to his regular role of corporate crony during today's proceedings. After all, where would he be without the help of his "corporate titan" friends? (Via Think Progress):

Think Progress's take, along with a transcript of Shimkus's quote:
In a confused monologue, Shimkus attempts to follow new Republican talking points and portray himself as a defender of the little guy against corporate greed. But he can’t stop himself from also praising the corporations as his friends:

[MR. SHIMKUS]: We’re fighting for the ratepayer. This debate is: “Who protects the ratepayer?” The corporate titans are my friends! I’m a Caterpillar supporter. I’m an Exelon supporter. I’m an Ameren supporter. A lot of these companies that have negotiated deals, they support me. But I know that they’re in the room to protect shareholder wealth, the wealth of the bond holders, the wealth of the stockholders. And that’s okay.
We'll give Mr. Shimkus this much: he's a riddle wrapped an enigma. And that's okay.

Blackburn: Won't Someone Please Think of the Boy Scouts?

One of the primary goals of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (besides creating a clean energy economy that spurs job growth) is to protect our planet for future generations by curbing the worst effects of global warming.

No one can accuse Rep. (Den Mom?) Marsha Blackburn (TN) of not thinking about the children. Her concern, however, may be misplaced. During debate on the issue of carbon offsets, which often involve planting new trees to offset carbon emitted by other sources, Ms. Blackburn brought up an interesting point: local offset programs may involve gardening opportunities for groups like Boy Scouts, which, in turn, may unduly burden community organizations.

Uh-oh. I think it's finally happening. We're having a...

PUNCHLINE OVERLOAD!

We like the Boy Scouts. We were the Boy Scouts. We know that our government must not strain our nation's precious Boy Scout resources...

So there you have it. Ms. Blackburn wants to deny an entire generation of Boy Scouts their much deserved Planet Saving, Economy Growing, and National Security Improving merit badges. How could she be so heartless...

We look forward to her introduction of the Strategic Girl Scout Cookie Reserve bill next week...

Ms. Blackburn clearly cares about the Boy Scouts. Her consistent support of destroying our wilderness demonstrates her commitment to keeping Scouts safe and sound in the Great Indoors...

Okay, have to save some of these cutting witticisms for the remainder of the marathon that is markup.

Even Spanish Government Rejects Exxon Funded Author's Green Jobs "Study"

Over the course of the debate on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, we've seen multiple references from opposition to a dubious study on green jobs in Spain. The Wall Street Journal and many others have questioned the validity of the study, and have taken note of Mr. Calzada's ties to petroleum giant (and notable funder of global warming deniers) ExxonMobil.

Well, as of today, NRDC's Pete Altman reports that the government of Spain has joined the chorus of voices rejecting the "study."
Now a Spanish Government official has outlined the Spanish government's rejection of the conclusions found in Gabriel Calzada's "spanish jobs study" in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. As Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Spain's Secretary of State for Climate and Minister of the Environment for Rural and Marine Affairs, says:

"We are surprised by the echoes that a paper signed by Gabriel Calzada on the effects of employment due to the promotion of renewable energy is having in the House of Representatives and the US Media...Although there are several studies of different sources that have analyzed the positive impact of renewable energy policies in terms of employment, and that would serve as answer, the Spanish Government would like to express its views."

Of the Calzada paper, Rodriguez says "data used in [the] analysis are totally out of keeping with the current reality of the sector," and that the analysis is "simplistic" and uses a "non-rigorous methodology."
Even as more and more organizations, media outlets, and countries pile on their skepticism of the Calzada study, it is oft-cited by members opposing the clean energy bill, as we saw as late as yesterday. And we're pretty sure we haven't heard the last of it.

After all, when real scientists don't support your position, there's always an ExxonMobil-funded author's study you can cherry-pick...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shimkus: And By "Little", I Mean Big

In early going, it looks like Rep. John Shimkus (IL) has taken on the mantle of fighting for the "little guy". An admirable goal if it was at all credible. Which, of course, it is not.

As anti-clean energy members have offered numerous poison pill amendments to undermine the bill, Mr. Shimkus has cited the plight of the "little guy," repeatedly tying the authors of the American Clean Energy and Security Act to "corporate interests" and accusing them of "backroom deals." As he plays his self-appointed role of populist, Mr. Shimkus pays no heed to high unemployment numbers that would be eased with an American commitment to clean energy, or even acknowledges the threat of man-made global warming.

Mr. Shimkus goes on to make his case by citing the completely debunked Spanish study on how clean energy investments led to high unemployment.
MR. SHIMKUS: Gabriel Calzada Alvarez from Spain came and asked "America, are you crazy? We've lost 22,000 jobs! You want to model your (unintelligable) after us?"
Mr. Calzada's ties to ExxonMobil have been covered ad nauseum (his "think tank" has received $170,000 from the oil and gas giant). It would seem his interests are the furthest from the "little guy" as possible.

Then again, Mr. Shimkus puts Mr. Calzada's haul to shame. Through his Congressional career, Mr. Shimkus has accepted over $205,000 from oil and gas.

With those kinds of ties to corporate interests, it would be worth asking how exactly Mr. Shimkus is defining the "little guy" he loves so much...

Barton Defense: You Can't Regulate God

Great work from Think Progress, who compiled Rep. Joe Barton's most incredible soundbites from his appearance from Washington Journal this morning.

In an interview that rivaled his best performances acting as Ranking Member for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Barton spoke on his opinions ranging from carbonated drinks to how smaller vehicles are less efficient. And then there was this gem:
“And something that the Democrat sponsors do not point out, a lot of the CO2 that is created in the United States is naturally created. You can’t regulate God. Not even the Democratic majority in the US Congress can regulate God.”
Watch the full clip below:

Day 2: Markup Begins While Hilarity Continues

Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce convened this morning to begin markup on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

The historic nature of this legislation continues to be eclipsed only by the sheer outrageous nature of comments the opposition has made. And today was no exception.

Rep. Fred Upton (MI) was particularly cantankerous while supporting his colleague Rep. Mike Rogers's (MI) amendment to tie the validity of the bill to China's action on limiting future greenhouse gas emissions. While we agree  that it is important to encourage China to be partners with America in dealing with global warming, we think we'd be at odds with Mr. Upton regarding his strategy to do so.
MR. UPTON: We need to put a gun to China's head and say comply! [...] They can't even find one hundred miles of the Great Wall.
As this blog doesn't deal with foreign policy, analysis of Mr. Upton's assertions will cease here, but we can safely say that we don't condone holding anyone hostage over anything.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Mr. Rogers had perhaps the line of the day, although we're unsure what his point actually was.
MR. ROGERS: This legislation looks like a camel which was a horse designed by a Congressional committee.
We can be pretty sure what Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN) meant as she won the R?S? Tagline Recitation Award for almost verbatim repeating the entirety of our tagline to describe her goals, while adding a bit of her own flair.
MS. BLACKBURN: You all are pursuing climate change like it is the Holy Grail. Someone needs to put some roadblocks into this legislation.
Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without a Rep. John Shimkus (IL) tantrum. Today, Mr. Shimkus resorted to theatrics to voice his displeasure with Congressional Democrats. While we respect his right to do so, one would think there may be a more appropriate venue for his high-decibel mimicry, which included Mr. Shimkus slamming his hand on his desk while shouting "We're fighting for the big guys! We're fighting for the big guys!" (Seriously - as soon as we find video we'll post it.)

Members continue marking up the bill as we speak, and you can be sure to find more coverage right here in the coming hours and days.

Shimkus Also Dreads Real Words

As an update to yesterday's committee roundup, Progress Illinois has posted video of (and tore apart) Rep. John Shimkus's opening statement.

While we highlighted Mr. Shimkus's epic fear of yesterday's hearing (which he hid quite well), Progress Illinois made a great catch:
SHIMKUS: When we breathe in, we breathe oxygen. When we breathe out, we breathe out carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a toxic emittant [sic].
So besides exhibiting a vague understanding of climate science, Mr. Shimkus has taken to inventing new words to describe his imaginary concerns. In other words, there does seem to be a certain misguided logic to his methods.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let the Gaffes Begin!

With the Energy and Commerce Committee having convened today for opening statements on the American Clean Energy Security Act, there were sure to be gems abound from folks who'd rather not see a commitment to a clean energy future, or a bill that protects our atmosphere, or are beholden to views espoused only by the most myopic (and/or greedy) oil executives.

Either way, here's a smattering of what should be a barrel full of incredible statements over the course of this week.

Everyone's favorite ranking member, Rep. Joe Barton (TX), alleged that the environmental benefit of the bill is "practically nonexistent" while alleging that his "Drill Now, Cap Never" approach would net us no further environmental harm. I mean, I guess the consensus of scientists as well as the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could be wrong, what with their fancy carbon caps and environmental impacts. But, then again, it's not often that the National Academy of Sciences calls Congressmen out for their misguided attempts to undermine climate science.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY) cited his favorite nugget, the blatantly dubious Spanish study that asserted that investment in clean tech in Spain has cost the country jobs. Of course, Gabriel Calzada, the author of the study, is closely tied with ExxonMobil. His study has been debunked. See here. Oh, and here.

And then there's Rep. John Shimkus (IL), who has, in his zeal to defend American freedom from clean energy, sometimes been prone to slight exaggeration. Today was actually a light day for him. Opening his remarks with a casual "The day I have dreaded has arrived" (I hear he used to use that on dates), he pivoted nicely to the old "we all produce carbon dioxide" routine. Then again, if he had bothered to read the bill or pay attention at all these past few years, it would difficult for him to prove how this bill would impact any humans emitting less than 25,000 metric tons per year.

With the beloved Andre the Giant having passed on, it may be difficult to find someone who could prove Mr. Shimkus's fears of human CO2 regulation.

Keep following the latest in hilarity here through the week. For live updates, check out LCV's Twitter feed.