Friday, September 01, 2006

Calling Michael Crichton…Jim Inhofe Stands Steadfast Against California’s Emissions Capping, Calls for More Hearings

Well it didn’t take long for global warming champ Jim Inhofe to come out against California’s landmark legislation to control greenhouse gases. Yesterday’s Congressional Quarterly reports that Inhofe has labeled the bill a “job-killer” that would cost the state more than it’s worth.

“The impact of this ‘symbolic’ legislation is a steep price to pay for the thousands who will lose their jobs and for the disadvantaged communities which will suffer because of this bill.” (CQ Today, 8/31/06)

This statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. The legislation, in fact, is anything but “symbolic.” The new law is expected to cut carbon dioxide pollution by 25 percent by 2020, bringing the levels back down to what they were in 1990. The bill is also expected to attract new and better technologies to the area. "California is positioning itself to become the hub of a new clean energy economy based on solar energy, ethanol and other renewable fuels," says Bernadette del Chiaro of Environment California, a Sacramento-based group. "These will be the next Silicon Valley industries for California to export to the rest of the world." (Time, 8/31/06)

In addition, the emissions legislation is expected to create new jobs in California, not cost them. According to a recent study conducted by University of California, Berkeley economists, the law could boost the state’s economy by more than $60 billion and create as many as 89,000 new jobs by the year 2020. Even the state’s largest electric utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, endorsed the law, saying that it "strikes the right balance between improving the environment and protecting the economy."

Other industry leaders have also increasingly come out in favor of greenhouse gas capping legislation. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle had the head of the American Public Power Association acknowledging that inaction on global warming “is not a viable strategy.” According to the story, several industry leaders, including Shell and Exelon have even testified in front of the Senate on their support for mandatory limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

Despite the emerging public and industry consensus on the dangers of ignoring catastrophic global warming, Jim Inhofe has refused to budge. The newly enacted California legislation has led him to call for more hearings on climate change, according to the CQ article. Remember, last time the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee held such a hearing, his star witness was novelist Michael Crichton, whose novel on the subject, State of Fear, has been widely dismissed by the nation’s leading climate scientists as misleading and distorting. (Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 1/28/05)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is expected to introduce her own national version of the California bill when the Senate returns from recess. With the likes of James Inhofe at the helm of the Environment committee, don’t expect too much more progress on the issue. As California has shown, it is up to states to take matters into their own hands.


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