Friday, February 19, 2010

After His "Strong Support" Of Carbon Cap, Newt Gingrich Flops All Over The Place

Amidst the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Newt Gingrich is heaping praise on a new special interest-friendly political agenda - the Contract from America. In a recent op-ed, Gingrich endorsed the contract as "genuine voice of the American people," and encouraged supporters to vote for their top ten solutions to bring "real economic, conservative and government reform."

What Newt failed to mention is that one of the proposal's 22 points is directly contradictory to his previous stance on cap-and-trade. The document states:
REJECT CAP & TRADE: Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.
But in a 2007 interview with PBS, Newt clearly supported a cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions:

Either Gingrich didn't bother to read the "Contract from America" all the way to the end (it is a hefty 22-point document), or he has completely flip-flopped on his position in just a few years. The later appears to be true, based on comments by Newt over the past year. Media Matters put together a very telling chart on the Gingrich of 2007 vs. 2009:

GINGRICH THEN:If Bush Had Instituted A Cap-And-Trade Policy "We Would Be Much Better Off." During a 2007 interview with PBS, Newt Gingrich said: "If [President Bush] had instituted a regime that combined three things I just said -- mandatory caps, a trading system inside the caps, as we have with clean air, and a tax incentive to be able to invest in the new technology and to be able to produce the new technology -- I think we would be much better off than we are in the current situation." [PBS, 2/15/07]

GINGRICH NOW: Cap-And-Trade Is "Fundamentally Wrong." During his testimony in front of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, former Speaker Newt Gingrich said: "Imposing stunningly high taxes on an economy in the middle of a recession is fundamentally wrong, and guarantees that our economic competitors in the global marking will be in a dramatically better economic position. They recognize that artificially capping their economy is the wrong approach for developing their societies." [Gingrich Testimony, 4/24/09]

Why the sudden change of heart? It could have something to do with the $950,000 that coal and fossil fueled power companies contributed to Gingrich’s political advocacy group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, in the first half of last year. Among the top contributors were Peabody Energy - a St. Louis-based coal giant - and American Electric Power, the largest or second-largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. power industry.

So no matter how many economists and scientists come out in favor of a cap-and-trade scheme for limiting U.S. carbon emissions, you can count on Newt to keep on fighting for the interests of the country's biggest polluters.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rick "Secession" Perry Picks Fight With EPA Over Emissions

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is in a strange situation, even for politics in the Lone Star state.

Facing a nasty primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Perry thought he had locked up support from the crazy crowd after brazenly suggesting that his state could secede from the Union in response to President Obama's policies. Yet with early voting beginning today, Perry has suddenly found himself out-crazied by Tea Party activist Debra Medina.

In addition to appearing to endorse two of the Tea Partiers' favorite conspiracy theories - that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, and that 9/11 was an inside job - Medina has also gained considerable traction in far-right circles by railing against the Environmental Protection Agency's CO2 "endangerment finding." The finding - that runaway carbon dioxide emissions threaten human health by fueling global warming and its damaging effects - gives the EPA the power to regulate and limit carbon pollution. Most important, however, is the fact that the EPA's finding has sparked renewed debate and energy in Congress around the idea of pricing carbon emissions, thus harnessing the power of the free market to boost clean energy production and reduce pollution.

Mountains of evidence show that limiting carbon emissions can be a good thing for entrepreneurship, helping to create 1.7 million new jobs and generating billions in clean energy investment. Yet Medina has been railing that the EPA ruling threatens the Texas economy, and Perry is scrambling to out-crazy her: today, the Governor's office announced that the state of Texas will be suing the federal government in an attempt to overturn the finding:

The EPA’s misguided plan paints a big target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers and the hundreds of thousands of Texans they employ. This legal action is being taken to protect the Texas economy and the jobs that go with it, as well as defend Texas’ freedom to continue our successful environmental strategies free from federal overreach.”

Worse (or better, if you're a Rick Perry advisor), Perry uses the announcement as an opportunity to endorse a grab bag of phony conspiracy theories surrounding climate science:

The state’s legal action indicates EPA’s Endangerment Finding is legally unsupported because the agency outsourced its scientific assessment to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has been discredited by evidence of key scientists’ lack of objectivity, coordinated efforts to hide flaws in their research, attempts to keep contravening evidence out of IPCC reports and violation of freedom of information laws.
Translation: Debra Medina may think the U.S. government brought down the World Trade Center, but I'm convinced that 1,700 Ph.D.'s are involved in an elaborate plot to trick the world's major economies into doing something that's in everyone's best interest!

So now that Perry's a card-carrying member of the Climate "Truther" Squad, we're wondering if R?S? fave Sen. James Inhofe is considering putting in an appearance on his behalf. We sure hope so: if nothing else, it'll make great political theater!