Wednesday, August 30, 2006

James Inhofe Ignores the Needs of Oklahomans…

Yesterday the US Census Bureau report revealed a grim picture for Oklahomans – a jump in the poverty rate, and one of the highest percentages of uninsured people in the nation. According to the Tulsa World, roughly 50,000 people in Oklahoma have fallen into poverty just in the last two years and one fifth of the population has no health insurance. Despite this bleak outlook, Jim Inhofe, the senior senator from Oklahoma, continues to work for his corporate donors rather than his constituents, passing tax cuts for the wealthy while refusing to fund economic and health programs that benefit the average worker.

Even as 457,000 Oklahomans live in poverty, Inhofe repeatedly refuses to raise the minimum wage, further exacerbating the problem. (Senate Roll Call Vote 179, 6/21/06; Senate Roll Call Vote 257, 10/19/05; Senate Roll Call Vote 26, 3/7/05) In the past year alone, Inhofe has consistently voted against increasing or maintaining funding for the Community Development Block Grant Program, including one vote that would have eliminated certain tax breaks for top earners in America. (Senate Roll Call Vote 43, 3/15/06; Senate Roll Call Vote 348, 11/18/05; Senate Roll Call Vote 246, 9/30/05) This federal program provides money to states for community development programs such as expanding economic opportunities for low income earners and providing decent housing. (US Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Jim Inhofe seems unaffected by the fact that the Oklahoma poverty rate has now surpassed the national rate, or that as the national median income rose, the Oklahoma median fell. No, he’s more interested in helping out his rich friends that keep him in office. Inhofe voted to permanently repeal the estate tax, which only benefits a small number of the nation’s top earners. (Senate Roll Call Vote 164, 6/8/06) He also supported an extension of the dividends and capital gains tax cuts for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. (Senate Roll Call Vote 17, 2/14/06)

The Census report also showed that Oklahoma has the 4th highest number of residents without health insurance, behind only Florida, Texas, and New Mexico. In Oklahoma, one in five are uninsured. Yet Jim Inhofe has done nothing to ease this situation, on the contrary, he has made it worse. Inhofe voted to extend the dividends and capital gains tax cuts for the rich over funding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. (Senate Roll Call Vote 337, 11/17/05) He also voted against increased funding for the military health care program, TRICARE, spending that would have been offset by eliminating certain tax breaks for the wealthy. (Senate Roll Call Vote 67, 3/17/06)

Perhaps worst of all, - Inhofe was one of only two senators to oppose the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, which among other things, provides funding for certain Medicaid and Medicare programs, and for Social Security. (Senate Roll Call Vote 281, 10/27/05)

This isn’t what Oklahomans deserve, a Senator who’s too busy calling environmental activists Nazis, holding up important security bills, and grossly mischaracterizing the situation in Iraq to respond to the needs of those he is most responsible for. Inhofe’s record speaks for itself. If you can cough up the money, he’ll do whatever you ask. If not, you’re on your own…

Monday, August 28, 2006

Jim Inhofe’s Back to School Lesson: Don’t Listen to Jim Inhofe

As students were returning to school today around the country, Sen. James Inhofe did a little teaching of his own. On Friday, Inhofe conducted class during a breakfast meeting with Enid, OK community leaders. We should all be glad we weren’t in that classroom…

As usual, Sen. Exxon began his tirade by railing on all things pro-environment. According to the Enid News, he said that signing the Kyoto Protocol “would shut down agriculture, military, and oil production in Oklahoma.” The Protocol is an international agreement that sets mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Actually, catastrophic global warming is expected to have extremely adverse effects on the United States agriculture industry. According to a report done by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, agriculture regions, particularly those in the south, will face significantly lower grain yields and livestock production. The report notes that if the proper precautions are taken, the industry may be able to overcome the effects. This would obviously require an acknowledgement of the existence of global warming, which it seems Inhofe is miraculously unable to do.

Inhofe also somehow came to the conclusion that the US should withdraw from the United Nations. “I’ve been a critic of the United Nations since 1998. I have a resolution that says we will withhold our dues. We will withdraw from the United Nations.” Wow, Senator, way to fight the good fight. So much for the global war on terror, not to mention the crisis in the Middle East or the millions of Americans without healthcare. No, the UN is definitely the nation’s biggest problem.

Never mind that this “lesson” came from a man who doesn’t exactly have the best educational record. Inhofe actually lied about when he graduated from college, by about 14 years. Senator Senile confirmed in 1994 that he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa a full 14 years after he had originally claimed, in 1973, when he had already been elected to public office. Inhofe’s defense? He didn’t know anything about it until it was uncovered by the media. (Daily Oklahoman, 11/17/94)

Inhofe’s stop in Enid was part of a 30-county swing through his state. It’ll be interesting to see if he actually touches on the needs of his constituents, like the 20% of Oklahoma residents that are uninsured, or the environmental crisis that the state is facing, or if Inhofe will keep hammering on the issues most important to his corporate donors. After all, who has Inhofe ever really worked for? Oklahoma or oil?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Cheese Stands Alone: Jim Inhofe's Donors Turn on Him; Oil Execs Agree to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

It’s a good day for believers of catastrophic global warming, or those with any logic whatsoever, and a bad day for Sen. Jim Inhofe…

After years of fighting off any and all efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, energy companies are finally starting to come around, according to today’s San Francisco Chronicle. As the article notes, “with growing public anxiety about climate change, major corporations are increasingly preparing for – and, in some cases, lobbying for – Congress to regulate emissions of heat-trapping gases.”

"The scientific evidence is real," said Betsy Moler, vice president for government and environmental affairs at Exelon Corp. of Chicago, an energy firm that supports a mandatory cap on carbon dioxide emissions. "When you have the likes of Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, a conservative Republican, and he says he has seen the changes in his lifetime in the Arctic, there is just no doubt that something has to happen."

This is a huge turn-around from an industry that traditionally supported the Bush administration and other allies (Jim Inhofe) in their staunch opposition to limits on carbon dioxide. You know it’s serious when the nation’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases join the effort to reduce their presence in the atmosphere.

The Boston Globe also noted this morning that “the movement to tackle climate change is finally growing large in this country, and at least part of it is beginning to get a little more outspoken.” And just a few days ago, as mentioned in the previous post, a new Zogby poll showed that nearly three out of four Americans are more convinced that global warming is in fact a reality than they were two years ago.

Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence that Americans want at least some progress on this issue, it has had no effect whatsoever on our favorite environment-hater Sen. James Inhofe. Yesterday, in a speech to Norman, OK businesses and government leaders, Inhofe hated on, well, everyone, but saved his best, as always, for global warming. Inhofe began with an assault on the Kyoto Treaty, a UN agreement that mandates cutbacks in emissions of greenhouse gases, arguing that it would lead to worldwide governance. He also added this gem: “Since 1999, science has refuted the concept” that greenhouse gases are causing global warming.

Really Senator? That’s probably why the leading industries that actually benefit from releasing these gases are agreeing to cap them, in an effort to reduce the effects of global warming. In fact, one of Inhofe’s top campaign contributors, BP, has been the industry leader in this effort, cutting its carbon emissions by 10 percent, according to the Chronicle article.

Will Inhofe call them Nazi propagandists too or is their money more important to him than that?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Irresponsible Rhetoric on Global Warming from Jim Inhofe

Today’s San Antonio Current outlines the lessons that should be learned from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The article follows the current scientific logic that the weather disaster was symptomatic of the larger problem of catastrophic global warming, and argues that the federal government needs to do something to deal with this problem.

“Katrina was a billboard for global warming. For years, emissions from fossil fuels used by industry and automobiles sent carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that allowed in sunlight but kept heat from escaping, creating what’s come to be called a “greenhouse effect.” As a scientific consensus emerged, Al Gore, then a U.S. senator, made the ozone layer a political issue.

“Because New Orleans unwittingly became the vanguard in this 21st-century battle, our government’s response to its crisis is crucial, laying not only the groundwork for the city’s survival, but a template for addressing the effects of global warming nationwide.” (San Antonio Current, 8/23/06)

Yet, Sen. Jim Inhofe, head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, tasked with addressing this issue, remains unconvinced and continues to wage a personal war against the belief in global warming. As the article notes, “Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma calls global warming ‘greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people’…With no hint of irony Inhofe calls global warming ‘the big lie,’ comparing the science behind it to Nazi propaganda leading up to World War II.”

Inhofe’s position is not only incorrect, it is completely unrepresentative of the American people. According to a Zogby poll released yesterday, an overwhelming majority of Americans believes that global warming does exist and that it is connected to recent disastrous weather events, such as Katrina and heat waves.

What is even more alarming is that this is not the first time Inhofe has used a Nazi reference in his musings on global warming:

In 2004, Inhofe said the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement that provided for mandatory reductions of harmful greenhouse gases, “would deal a powerful blow on the whole [of] humanity similar to the one humanity experienced when Nazism and Communism flourished.” (Washington Post, 6/22/05)

Inhofe has also compared the Environmental Protection Agency to a “Gestapo bureaucracy.” (Austin American-Statesman, 7/27/97)

If people like Sen. Inhofe are kept in power, American will never be able to be adequately prepared for future natural disasters.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Inhofe: Situation in Iraq "Nothing Short of a Miracle"

He’s at it again. Today’s Tulsa World is reporting that the situation in Iraq, according to Oklahoma’s own Senator James Inhofe, is “nothing short of a miracle.” (LINK) Inhofe claimed in a Tulsa speech yesterday that contrary to most reports, Iraqis were pleased about the US intervention and that the country was on its way to handling its own security.

Trust us Senator, its far short of a miracle. Lets review:
  • As many as 45,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed because of this war. (LINK)
  • GOP Senator Chuck Hagel, on FOX News, said, “We, in fact, are in probably a low grade, maybe a very defined, civil war. You’ve got corruption everywhere, as bad as it’s ever been. You’ve got uncontrollables that we can’t control, we can’t deal with. Iran probably has more influence in Iraq than we do at this point.” (see transcript)
  • Even President Bush did not know when the Iraqi’s could handle their own security. In a speech yesterday, Bush said, “I can't tell you exactly when it's (US military presence) going to be done.” (LINK)
The Senator didn’t stop there. Inhofe then went on to actually defend the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” Most Americans remember the bridge as the boondoggle of all pork barrel projects. The bridge, sponsored by Alaska GOP Senator Ted Stevens, would have cost taxpayers $320 million to connect the town of Ketchikan, population 8,900, with the Island of Gravina, population 50. (LINK) Inhofe claimed the bridge was an example of “one of the few things in Washington that works.”

No Inhofe speech would be complete without a rant against the science supporting man-made global warming. The Senator reiterated his belief that global warming was largely a front for “international economic movements.” Since we in our collective wisdom are unsure what international economic movements actually are, we put it to our readers to call the senator to seek an explanation.

Not only do Oklahomans deserve better, they need to start demanding it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Senator Inhofe at Odds With Oklahoma Sportsmen

Global warming, the great hoax on the American public? So says Oklahoma’s most obtuse of public servants, Senator James Inhofe. However, according to folks who actually spend time outdoors, global warming is real and they can feel it. According to a recent poll that surveyed active sportsmen, 76 percent said they have observed climate change where they lived, 73 percent said they have seen global warming affect their own hunting and fishing and over half said believed climate change was related to global warming. Not surprising, an overwhelming majority (78 percent) said developing fuel efficient vehicles and expanding the use of renewable sources are the best way to address America's energy needs, rather than drilling for more oil and gas within the United States. (LINK)

Interestingly, almost two-thirds of these same sportsmen identified themselves as politically conservative, while half said they were evangelical Christians. (Lewiston Morning tribune, 8/16/06)

So the next time the Senator purports to stand up for Oklahoma’s hunters and fishermen, the hoax is on them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mr. Pollution Strikes Again: Inhofe Pushes for Unqualified EPA Nominee

Senator James Inhofe, ever the protector of the power industry (a.k.a major air polluters) recently attacked Democrats for holding up the confirmation of William Wehrum, Bush’s nominee to head the EPA Office of Air and Radiation. In a release issued by his Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe called Senate Democrat’s “obstructionist tactics of Mr. Wehrum’s nomination” “simply despicable.” “It is outrageous that Democrats used a little used procedural move to further delay a highly qualified EPA nominee in Bill Wehrum.” (Release, 8/4/06)

Democrats have opposed Wehrum’s nomination for a number of reasons, the least of which is he played a major role in relaxing air emission standards, namely easing pollution rules for electric power plants. (Austin American-Statesman, 4/27/06)

In April of this year, a number of representatives of environmental organizations wrote a letter to a number of senators expressing their opposition to the nomination. The letter highlighted the many policies Wehrum crafted that have weakened public health and environmental protections. Especially noteworthy are key changes to the Clean Air Act’s new source review (NSR) protections, which were subsequently struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

William Wehrum previously worked as a lobbyist for Latham & Watkins, where he specialized in clean air matters and represented some of the biggest polluters in the country, according to a report done by Public Citizen. The man he has been nominated to replace, Jeffrey Holmstead, is also a Latham & Watkins alum.

Wehrum came under fire by lawmakers in 2004 for authoring a new EPA that took language, sometimes verbatim, from position papers supplied by his former employer, then representing the utility industry. “A side-by-side comparison of one of the three proposed rules and the memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins -- one of Washington's premier corporate environmental law firms -- shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions.” (Washington Post, 1/31/04)

This revelation prompted Democratic Congressmen Thomas Allen and Henry Waxman to send EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt a letter requesting further investigation into this matter. (States News Service, 2/12/04)

Despite all this evidence suggesting Wehrum is not exactly a “clean air” candidate, Inhofe still claims “his qualifications are unchallenged and he has a proven record of accomplishment on clean air.” (Environment and Public Works Release, 4/26/06) Spoken like a true industry warrior…

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Inhofe Fights Against Quality Air

Looks like James Inhofe is back on his crusade against clean air. Recently it was reported that EPA investigators took a tour of oil and gas facilities near Denver, CO, armed with infrared cameras in order to detect pollution leaking from the sites.

Well Mr. Environment was none too happy with that. Better methods of collecting data on harmful air emissions? Not under his watch! Inhofe promptly sent a letter to the EPA administrator in Denver, saying the agency’s actions “give rise to concern” and threaten the “trust” between regulators and industry. Right, wouldn’t want to upset the industry. As Grist put it, “Yes, if the regulators go, you know, investigating and regulating and whatnot, how will the industry ever trust them again?”

Essentially, James Inhofe doesn’t want the EPA to do its job, which includes detecting these dangerous emissions and figuring out ways to limit their presence in the atmosphere. But, of course, that wouldn’t make his oil and gas donors very happy, now would it? After all, since 2001, Inhofe has received $311,208 from oil and gas companies.

None of this should come as a surprise, however. This is far from the first time Inhofe has bad-mouthed the EPA. In 2000, he called the agency’s bid to enact new pollution rules a “vulgar abuse of power and blatant disregard for the legislative branch of government.” (Tulsa World, 7/15/00) Then, in 2003, he it an agency of “bureaucrats inflicting terror” on small business-owners and he saw the agency as nothing more as “environmental extremists.” (USA Today, 2/17/03)

Fortunately for the planet, the EPA is pushing back on Inhofe’s craziness this time around. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Denver officials are standing by their decision to use the cameras and that they were needed to determine the extent and source of the emissions. Not to mention that Denver is in danger of violating air quality standards.

But none of this matters to James Inhofe. After all, its just emissions, right?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Crazy James Inhofe Holds Security Bill Hostage

Since 2003, lawmakers in the House and Senate have been trying to enhance the security around America’s chemical facilities. And for those three years, the American people have been waiting for the GOP majority to do something about the approximately 700 sites around the country containing stockpiles of toxic chemicals that terrorist could turn into weapons.

Finally, in June, the Senate Homeland Security Committee approved a bill that would allow the Homeland Security Department to regulate security standards at these chemical sites. However, just days later, Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee placed a hold on the bill, “for the twin purposes of helping corporate friends and skewering environmental foes.” (Star Tribune, 7/24/06)

Inhofe initially blocked the bill because he was afraid it would allow DHS to mandate safer technology – commonly referred to as inherently safer technology, or IST. (Environment and Energy Daily, 7/24/06) That’s right, Inhofe is afraid of mandating safer technology. Turns out, no IST requirements are actually contained in the bill. An IST proposal was actually rejected in the Homeland Security Committee. (Grist, 7/13/06)

Now, left with no IST argument, the ever environment-loving Inhofe has turned his attention to the water provisions in the bill. Inhofe is now attempting block the bill because it would allow DHS to regulate drinking water and wastewater facilities that use chemicals. (GovExec, 8/1/06) One more time: Inhofe does not want to regulate your drinking water. Better stock up on those Britas!

This is just the latest in a string of incidents involving James Inhofe’s assault on environmental regulations. Inhofe is one of the staunchest opponents of global warming science. In fact, he thinks it is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” (Environment and Energy Daily, 4/4/06) When his committee held hearings on the existence of global warming, Inhofe invited as star witness science fiction writer Michael Crichton, whose credibility is apparently proven by his book on the nonexistence of global warming, State of Fear. The book has actually been accused of distorting research and bending scientific facts by a majority of top climate scientists. (Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 1/28/05)

As a tribute to James Inhofe’s ever-amusing senility, we’ve compiled a top five list of the craziest things Inhofe has ever said or done:

Crazy Inhofe Top Five

  1. Inhofe outraged federal employees on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building by stating on CNN that there probably weren't very many casualties because federal employees were probably “playing hooky”. FYI, he’s the senior senator from Oklahoma (Hotline, 10/5/95)
  2. Inhofe has referred to the Environmental Protection Agency as a “Gestapo Bureaucracy.” (US Newswire, 11/13/02)
  3. During the Vieques bombing debate, Inhofe called Puerto Rican protesters “ungrateful, myopic, and misinformed,” and later characterized the protesters as “Hollywood publicity-seekers or frustrated New York City activists.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/3/01)
  4. Inhofe once compared a gay business executive who had been nominated to an ambassadorship by President Bill Clinton to David Duke, a onetime Ku Klux Klan leader. (New York Times, 4/23/03)
  5. Inhofe also lied about the year he graduated from the University of Tulsa. For 35 years in political biographies, announcements, and the like, Inhofe claimed he had graduated in 1959. However, in 1994, a University Registrar revealed that he had actually attained his degree 14 years later, in 1973. (Daily Oklahoman, 11/17/94)