Will a climate bill emerge from the closed-door discussions being held by senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)? What will it look like? Does it have any chance of being passed this year? Does it have any chance of being effective, i.e., reducing carbon?
But first, inquiring minds want to know: why on earth are these arguably well intentioned leaders pushing a clean energy bill to people who laugh at them behind their backs and call them hydrocarbon deniers?
First, a confession to this community. It's taken me many long and agonizing nanoseconds to get to the point where I can admit it, but I am a hydrocarbon denier. According to the chair of ConocoPhillips, James Mulva:
"We must overcome the opposition of the 'hydrocarbon deniers,'" Mulva said, playing off the term "climate deniers," used to describe skeptics about climate science. Hydrocarbon deniers, he said, are those who "believe that renewable energy will quickly and easily replace hydrocarbons and cure all that ails us."
Yep, that's me. I firmly believe that renewable energy can quickly and easily replace fossil fools -- if we make it happen. I'm joined by wild-eyed hippies in the state of Texas, which got nineteen percent of its electricity from wind last week for one brief shining moment. I know that the world can shift to 100% clean energy by 2030, once planning and political obstacles are overcome. I'm boldly taking that first step in admitting that I am a hydrocarbon denier.
Lindsey Graham looks like a hydrocarbon denier to me. He knows that the green economy is coming. He also knows that energy independence can only be achieved by cleaning up the air:
"I've come to conclude the energy-only approach will lead to mediocrity," Graham said. "There's not 60 votes doing energy only for offshore drilling. There's not 60 votes for nuclear power the way I'd like doing energy only. Only when you marry up climate change, cleaning up the air, with energy independence, do you get the transformational aspects of energy independence I'm hoping for."
So why are he, Kerry, and Lieberman meeting with hydrocarbon enablers like the American Petroleum Institute? Yesterday, the K-G-L trio met with major polluters including the API along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, major electric utility groups, the National Assn. of Manufacturers, the cement industry, and mining interests. The LA Times reports: "The senators’ message to the industry groups: Tell us what you need to support this bill. Be specific."
Here's a hint. Maybe the bill shouldn't need anything at all from hydrocarbon enablers like ConocoPhillips, which recently quit the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. Maybe the senators should instead break their dependence, then admit to being hydrocarbon deniers. Maybe the bill they're crafting should contain less giveaways to the fossil foolish industry, and more toward clean renewable energy.