The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee is holding its first legislative hearing today on the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act. With a star-studded witness list from Steven Chu to Lisa Jackson and Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) going head-to-head with Minority Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK), it's sure to be an interesting day.
I'm your host, Miles Grant (personal DK handle TheGreenMiles) and I'm here with NWF intern extraordinaire, Max Greenberg (personal DK handle MellishZeligSinger). As always, we're live from the National Wildlife Federation kitchen (because the biggest TV is in here). You can follow the hearings live on CSPAN3 or at CSPAN.org and additional snark is always welcomed in comments.
UPDATE 1:01pm - Sen. Boxer gavels the hearing to a close. We'll be back for tomorrow's morning hearing to continue live-blogging!
1:01pm - Sen. Boxer gavels the hearing to a close. We'll be back for tomorrow's morning hearing to continue live-blogging!
12:54pm - Sen. Whitehouse says polluting, coal-fired power plants "have dodged around the law for too long ... and I, for one, am fed up with it."
12:43pm - Sen. Whitehouse points out not one of Senate EPW Committee Republicans stuck around in the hearing to question the cabinet members -- just delivered their talking points and left.
12:34pm - Twitter's JenRennicks: Sen. Sanders "the most expensive new electricity generation is nuclear and coal and all I hear on this committee is nuclear and coal"
12:31pm - If I didn't speak English, I would think Bernie Sanders and Ray LaHood were having a bitter argument -- they're practically yelling at each other. But they're just both equally frustrated that America hasn't picked the low-hanging fruit of clean energy, efficiency, and transit.
12:23pm - Re: Inhofe's Hansen bribe intimation, an NWF colleague points out, "And then Inhofe turned around and cited James Hansen's critique of cap and trade as a reason not to support the bill -- i.e., 'he's a corrupted source, but at least he agrees with me.'"
12:19pm - Via Grist's Dave Roberts on Twitter: Oh, Voinovich wants more pork for "clean coal" too. But he doesn't want to "pick winners"! Just that winner.
12:16pm - When Sen. Voinovich demands analysis after analysis, keep in mind he's the one who held up a key EPA appointment, demanding EPA fudge its numbers to his liking.
12:08pm - Ha, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asks deny & delay crowd to crawl out of the "Temple of Gloom."
12:04pm - Sen. Inhofe accuses James Hansen of taking bribes from John Kerry. No, really. He just said Hansen had received $250,000 in research grants from the Heinz Foundation and implied that's why Kerry & Hansen were on the same page.
11:57am - Wait, did Sen. Inhofe say health insurance reform is the largest tax increase in history? Or clean energy reform is the largest tax increase in history? Can't tell the pander without a scorecard.
11:57am - Sen. Boxer asks EPA Administrator Jackson about the costs of the cap & trade system that curbed acid rain. "It was predicted it would cost a lot of money and be ineffective," says Jackson. Instead, it cost a fraction of what was predicted and proved more effective than predicted. Will the same happen with carbon cap & trade?
11:53am - Now delivering opening statement: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff.
11:48am - Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson says "Americans want reform."
11:41am - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar now delivering opening remarks.
Via Twitter's @watamelon: "Sen Whitehouse: America can and should lead the way to a clean energy economy. It is America's DNA to innovate #climatebill"
11:39am - Via my NWF colleague Drew Tappan, Sen. Lautenberg's closing lines of his opening statement: "America, wake up! Your kids are in danger! Your families are in danger!"
11:37am - Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood delivering his opening remarks. LaHood is a former Republican member of Congress from Illinois. Will be interesting to see how he interacts with some of the more skeptical Republicans on the EPW Committee.
11:29am - Energy Secretary Steven Chu is delivering his opening remarks. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club is hosting a live feed of tweets with the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act tag (#cejapa).
11:24am - Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) pushes back hard against Sen. Barrasso, pointing out Congressional Budget Office analysis of Clean Energy Jobs Act doesn't look at the enormous cost of inaction.
11:22am - Via Twitter's @BenWessel: Sen. Bernie Sanders "if we dont seize this moment 2 do the right thing, our children + our children's children will say "where were you!?"
11:16am - OK, so this isn't really an official NWF position, but ... Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is my boy. If there was a Climate Champion Fantasy Draft, I'd probably take Sen. Boxer first, then you'd have to think Kerry & Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be long gone by my second pick, but if Whitehouse was still there in the second round, it would be a huge sleeper pick.
11:09am - Sen. David Vitter calls for new energy investment but explicity excludes solar and wind. Really curious that certain members of Congress exclude solar and wind for no apparent reason other than "environmentalists like it."
11:05am - Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) calls oil & coal "red, white and blue energy." Shades of Sarah Palin's "real" America? Solar energy from Arizona isn't "real" energy?
11:03am - Sen. Jeff Merkley frames the bill as, "A choice between clean air and dirty air ... between creating jobs for Americans, or sending those jobs overseas."
10:54am - Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) slams Republicans for obsessing about exactly how many pages are in the bill. "I didn't know there was such an interest in protecting the trees here!" OH SNAP!
10:51am - Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) says we don't understand enough about global warming or how this legislation will work. We've been talking about climate change for 20 years now. Exactly how much time does Sen. Voinovich need? Says "the most important" thing we can do is demand more analysis. Points to President George W. Bush's Clear Skies Initiative as a shining example of legislative excellence. Really? That's the high water mark?
10:44am - Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) opens his remarks saying the Clean Energy Jobs Act is "based on a fundamental principle: the polluter pays."
10:41am - Listening to some of these senators talk, you'd think we had some sort of a national ban on nuclear power, and if only it was lifted, nuclear would be a magic pill to solve all our problems. But it's not regulation that's the issue -- it's cost. As TIME reported, "It turns out that new plants would be not just extremely expensive but spectacularly expensive." Somehow I don't think that will be the nuclear industry's new slogan: Nuclear Power: When Extremely Expensive Just Isn't Enough!
10:39am - Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) says we're far too dependent on oil ... but immediately says hey, that doesn't mean we shouldn't drill! Glad you caught yourself, there, Mike! Wouldn't want to lose your head by going against Big Oil's interests!
10:35am - Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) delivers his opening remarks. Talks about coal, steel, refineries ... anything about the major fish kills seen in Pennsylvania's streams due to warming? Threats to Pennsylvania's family farms? Hoping Sen. Specter gets on board with clean energy & climate legislation, but his opening statement was pretty one-sided.
10:32am - From Max: Sen. Bond's supporting signs were like a 4th graders night-before-the-due-date science project on earthquakes ...
TECTONIC PLATES: shift
CAUSING: shaking of earth
10:30am - Sen. Bond calls for developing "environmentally-friendly" ... nuclear, coal and oil. I am not making this up.
10:28am - Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) opens his remarks by saying the bill is too long and he hasn't had enough time to read it. This is a classic strategy if you don't have anything substantive to say about the bill. The bill is too long/too short! We've been talking about it too long/not long enough!
10:24am - In comments, IndySteve warns some senators "will say they are for addressing [climate change] while favoring their financial contributors." OpenSecrets.org and ExxonSecrets.org are great sites for drawing direct lines from Big Oil money to members of Congress.
10:20am - Sen. Alexander says the "affordable" solution is ... to build 100 new nuclear power plants. Let's say each nuclear plant costs $20 billion. The price tag for Sen. Alexander's plan would be a staggering $2 trillion. Let's look at that number: $2,000,000,000,000. That's "affordable"? I'm not buying that fire insurance!
10:16am - Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) opens with double-barrelled ham-handed analogies. Here's the second one: "If your home was threatened by fire, you'd by fire insurance. But you wouldn't buy fire insurance that was so expensive you couldn't afford to pay your mortgage or health insurance!" Umm, right. So would you just not buy insurance at all? Take your chances on the fire? Or what?
10:14am - Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) makes his opening remarks. Says Montana "cannot afford unmitigated impacts of climate change." Emphasizes passing climate legislation. Excellent to hear Sen. Baucus wants action.
10:11am - Sen. Inhofe has been very kind to grant Sen. Kerry time for extended remarks on an issue about which he's passionate. (Note: This may be the only nice thing I have to say about Sen. Inhofe today.)
10:10am - On Twitter, @ColoradoRight asks: "how many of you could afford to continue to pay your mortgage if your electricity bill doubled? and your heat? #capandtax" I live in Virginia, where our electric bills have already shot up by about 25%. And haven't gas prices already shot up? The status quo is the real danger to consumers.
10:02am - Sen. Kerry points out the Clean Energy Jobs Act will directly impact only 2% of American businesses -- but those businesses produce an incredible 75% of America's global warming pollution. Opponents of action need to explain why those businesses should keep their license to pollute for free.
9:57am - As you listen to Sen. Inhofe today, remember that he received an incredible $662,506 from oil companies between 2000 and 2008 -- and hundreds of thousands more from coal companies.
9:50am - Sen. Kerry: "The science is screaming at us." Points to faster-than-expected Arctic Sea ice melting.
9:49am - Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is the first witness. He goes hard after Sen. Inhofe. Are there costs? Sure. But what's the impact of inaction? None of the Congressional Budget Office scorings reflect that.
9:44am - How appropriate for Halloween! Sen. Inhofe's opening statement can be summed up with one word: "BOO!" Just blatant fear-mongering. Jobs destroyed! People forced to leave their hometowns! Billions in record profit for Big Oil slowed! Oh, wait ... he may not have said that last part.
9:40am - Sen. Boxer reminds the committee that the bill has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office to be deficit-neutral and may even help pay down the deficit.
9:37am - Sen. Boxer gavels the hearing to order and reads her opening statement, saying, "[Hurricane] Katrina provides a window into the kind of world we can expect if we fail to act."