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You all know James Inhofe, the Republican Senator from Exxon Mobil Oklahoma who famously declared the Global warming is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" on more than one occasion.  Yet this fierce opponent of Al Gore and anyone who would curb carbon emissions from the burning of gasoline in your car or coal by your local electrical utility, has suddenly decided to join two of the greenest members of the Senate, Democrats Barbara Boxer of California and John Kerry of Massachusetts in a bill to (sort of) fight global warming.

Not by curbing all the CO2 that comes out of someone's Hummer.  That would be heresy.  Instead, he will sponsor with Kerry and Boxer a bill seeking to study "black carbon" deemed to be one of the principle accelerants of global warming in the Arctic.  What is "Black Carbon?" you ask.  Well ...

(cont.)

The target of the bill is black carbon, commonly known as soot.

Black carbon warms the atmosphere by absorbing sunlight. When it falls in the Arctic it causes ice and snow to melt faster. In the United States and Europe, soot comes from diesel engines and agricultural crop burning; in the developing world the major sources are home heating and cooking fires. In just the last two years, scientists have found that soot may be responsible for up to half of the rapid melting of Arctic ice and snow. (For a two-minute black carbon primer, visit www.stopsoot.org.

Why is he sponsoring this bill?  Why did he and his Republican colleagues agree to pass this out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by unanimous consent?  Well obviously, this bill attacks a carbon emissions that will have less effect of his major clients campaign contributors, Big Oil, than on other sources of carbon in the atmosphere.  And I'm sure it will make his Republican colleagues look a little bit better when they come up for re-election in 2 or 4 years to tout their support for this bill.

However, perhaps because the real reason why is that there is a better bill being promoted in the House of Representatives to fight the production of soot or black carbon.

A House bill, by Jay Inslee of Washington, Mike Honda of California and Peter Welch of Vermont, calls on the EPA to take "immediate action" to control black carbon emissions. In a speech last month, Nobel Prize laureate and former vice president Al Gore called on the world to curb black carbon by burning less diesel and wood. And the eight nations of the Arctic Council, including the United States, have just adopted a declaration urging "early action" on black carbon and other "short-lived climate forcers" such as methane.

See, all Inhofe and his colleagues really hope to do is weaken the House bill.  A bill to study "black carbon" is next to meaningless.  A bill to actually do something about it by requiring the EPA to write and enforce new regulations on black carbon might cost his "friends" in the oil business a few bucks.  In other words its a delaying tactic.  And there is little reason for delay:

Carbon dioxide, from automobile exhaust and other sources, stays in the atmosphere for decades, so cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions could take a relatively long time to reverse warming trends. Black carbon, on the other hand, stays in the atmosphere for only days or weeks, so reducing emissions will have an immediate cooling effect. Deep and immediate cuts in carbon dioxide are still urgently necessary, but quick action on black carbon will buy valuable time for the Arctic, forestalling global warming tipping points like the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

There are plenty of technologies around today that could limit black carbon emissions immediately, such as retrofitting older diesel burning trucks to burn cleaner diesel fuels, requiring ships to use cleaner fuels that produce less soot, cleaner burning stoves that burn wood, etc. It is much needed:

For the developing world, cleaner-burning stoves that cut black-carbon emissions are also key. Charitable projects to supply stoves are under way, but the United States and Europe can speed progress by increasing aid. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should direct the State Department and Agency for International Development to ramp up financing and technology transfer to reduce black carbon emissions in the developing world. Even in the current recession, there can be no greater priority for sustainable development, the Arctic and the global community.

And cutting black carbon will not only buy time for the Arctic, but will also improve health dramatically at home and abroad. From the smoggy suburbs of Los Angeles to rural villages in India and China, soot is a major cause of respiratory and heart disease, estimated to be responsible for 1.6 million deaths a year worldwide.

But that would require government action worldwide, including a major effort by the US government to provide domestic and foreign aid to subsidize the use of cleaner burning technologies.  And that, you can rest assured, the Republicans in Congress would oppose.

So why are Kerry and Boxer getting into bed with Inhofe?  Do they think that when these two competing bills come up for reconciliation in the joint House and Senate committee that they can still get the tougher regulation from the EPA through in the final bill?  Maybe they don't want to have a fight over regulation of balck carbon now, but later in the year.  Who knows.  But Inhofe is a snake.  He may appear to be shedding his skin on this issue, but the underlying venomous reptile is still there even if he looks all new and shiny and harmless.  I assume that he's betting he can defeat any final bill regarding black carbon if it calls for anything more than "studying" the problem, or at the very least weaken EPA's mandate to take action.  I don't trust him and his fellow Republicans sudden cooperation on this particular bit of "green legislation" and neither should you.

Also available at Booman Tribune

Update [2009-6-4 15:16:13 by Steven D]: The article quoted from above was written by Erika Rosenthal of Earthjustice. Their two-minute primer on black carbon can be found at
www.stopsoot.org.

Originally posted to Steven D on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for Inslee, etc. (12+ / 0-)

    Flames for Inhofe and the other Republican global warming deniers.

    "I just had the basic view of the American public -- it can't be that bad out there." Marine Travis Williams after 11 members of his squad were killed.

    by Steven D on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:31:00 AM PDT

    •  Black carbon has been studied for, what, 30 (5+ / 0-)

      some years now?  And the conclusions have been unequivocable for almost that long.  But by all means, let's study black carbon for another 30 years.  We don't really need all those islands in the Pacific and it will be so nice in the Arctic and Antarctic when it is warmer and there is no ice.  For those of us in the heartland:  we just love a good tornado, massive flooding, etc.!  

    •  Maybe we need to find a way to mobilise this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eeff, Steven D, Crashing Vor, whiteclover

      attitude in adults to counter Inhofe.

      "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

      by Unenergy on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:45:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  what to do about Inhofe. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whiteclover

      This guy has got to be our #1 target for defeat in 2010 or whenver he next comes up for election.  

      Unless he promises to sign on to do whatever possible to shut down coal.  And does it.  (And if he does, expect an increase in UFO reports that turn out to be pigs flying.)

      I wonder about this:  Many of us who are ferocious about sustainability believe that nuclear fission, particularly the new-generation reactors, is a vital element in a climate-clean energy policy.  OK, so how'bout trying to get the nuclear industry to start applying torque to Inhofe to at least wean him away from the coal industry?

      Coal is the #1 climate-killer; oil and gas pale into insignificance behind coal.  So whatever we can do to convert from coal to anything else, is a huge plus.  Coal to nuclear and coal to wind are the obvious ones in terms of getting large generating capacity online quickly (and the costs of nuclear & wind are about the same).  

      So the strategy is to pry people away from coal, and if they can't bring themselves to touch renewables, at least get them supporting nuclear.   (Conversely, those on our side who aren't up to date on nuclear, can at least be encouraged to work on geothermal as a possible alternative for firm power; and of course there's no controversy on our side about solar & wind.)

      And if Inhofe resists supporting nuclear, and sticks with coal, then that leaves him with no possible explanation other than being an outright shill with no place to hide; in which case it can be used against im ferociously in the next campaign.  

  •  It is amazing to me (5+ / 0-)

    Inhofe is the perfect evidence for the death of journalism in the media. This man should have been gutted for some much of what he said, done, and pocketed over his tenure in the Senate. And yet there he still sits. Of course one could also ask what is the matter with the people of OK for returning this neanderthal to Washington. Something stinks in OK and it ain't just cow shit.

    An end to the Bush nightmare is only the first step in rebuilding America.

    by DWG on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:42:51 AM PDT

    •  it's all about booty. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG, whiteclover

      He brings in the booty (pork) for Oklahoma, enough to keep himself employed doing so.  

      That's the only explanation I can think of.  

      One possible solution to which, is for progressive Ds in the Senate to simply cut off his access to pork.  No more pork for Inhofe.  No more bringing home the booty.  This should encourage some challengers in the R primary, which gives us an opening to get another D in.  

      •  Something about booty and Inhofe (0+ / 0-)

        in the same sentence caused my circuits to overload. Too many associations.

        Cutting pork might hurt, but he is the best friend to the energy industries in the state who keep him rolling in campaign cash.

        An end to the Bush nightmare is only the first step in rebuilding America.

        by DWG on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 09:47:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read the title (5+ / 0-)

    GOP Hypocrisy Watch

    and thought "damn, that must be a full-time job."

    Well thanks for the diary, I have tipped and will recommend.

  •  Inhofe may be playing the "delay to death" card, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eeff, whiteclover

    on regulating soot, and it's understandable considering he represents an oil state.  At least he's not making an unmitigated fool of himself by denying that there are any environmental problems associated with it.

    But I'm dumbfounded that, as a senator from OK, he hasn't endorsed T. Boone Pickens' idea of retrofitting large trucks to use natural gas.  It would clear up a lot of "black carbon" (why can't we just call it soot, which everybody understands?) and be a windfall for Oklahoma.  Oklahoma has at least as much natural gas as oil - an abundance of the stuff.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:05:58 AM PDT

  •  Inhofe always makes me ask (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eeff, kayfromsouth, whiteclover

    Can you skip a hypocrisy charge by simply being batsh*t crazy? (I gave up years ago thinking he was just crazy-like-a-fox. And too bad he's not the only Senator for that question.) Here's hoping Kerry and Boxer have some kind of major pushback planned.

  •  My first thought is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eeff, whiteclover

    What does Sarah Palin think?  Of course, I know the answer.  These ignorant deniers are harder and harder to take.  I suppose when the coast is in Kansas they will find a way to show how liberals did this.

    Boxer and Kerry??? WTF are they thinking!

    "Intolerance betrays want in one's faith." Ghandi

    by winter outhouse on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:25:19 AM PDT

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