Monday, February 21, 2011

One Party, Two Very Different Views

Can someone please tell me how someone like Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) becomes Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee? In a recent conversation with Ronald Brownstein, Group Editorial Director at National Journal, Upton confirmed, after some beating around the bush and prodding by Brownstein, that while he accepts that Earth's climate is changing he doesn't believe that humans are the cause.

Upton has also been in the news recently for introducing a bill in the House that would block the EPA from regulating carbon pollution, even though 62 percent of people from his own district want him to leave the EPA alone. With these efforts Upton joins former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee Joe "Government Shakedown" Barton (R-TX) as environmental skeptic extraordinaire. You remember Rep. Barton, don't you? He was the outspoken BP sympathizer during the gulf oil spill last summer:

Thankfully one of Upton and Barton's colleagues on the committee thinks differently about the climate crisis. Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) just plain gets it. He understands what's at stake. Listen carefully to what he has to say:

Inglis touches on several important points in this address to a House subcommittee meeting on climate change. First and foremost, he makes a thinly veiled threat to climate deniers about saying their comments "on the record." The save-the-environment-for-our-children's-sake argument has long been used to inspire action on these issues, but never quite like this. Inglis says that future generations will not look kindly on those who sat idly by and failed to act on climate change. In doing so he reinforces the sense that his argument is the accurate one. Why else would he be so resolute? He also includes a startling, common-sense statistic to make his point. 98 percent of scientists say that the climate is changing and that we are the cause. Wouldn't you think that means we should heed their advice? And finally, Inglis makes an argument that his "free enterprise colleagues" can relate to more directly: economic opportunity.
"[The Chinese] plan on eating our lunch in this next century. They plan on innovating around these problems, and selling to us, and the rest of the world, the technology that'll lead the 21st century. So we may just press the pause button here for several years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button."
It is perhaps important to point out that at the time of this speech Inglis knew he wouldn't be serving another term in Congress. A Tea Party primary challenger made sure of that. Regardless of his impending exit from national politics, it took courage to say what he said and defy his party. This is something that other Republicans like Lindsay Graham (R-SC) have toyed with but rarely committed to on the topic of climate change. Oftentimes when I think of Washington these days I'm frustrated that our political system has collapsed into the stubbornness and pettiness that we observe today. It's refreshing though, when someone like Bob Inglis surprises you and says something that actually makes quite a bit of sense.

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