Fossil Fuel CEOs On Their Heels

Bill Scher

Today’s edition of Environment & Energy Daily (sub. req’d) reports on a conference featuring the chief lobbyists for the fossil fuel industries.

And they’re in panic mode.

While David Parker, president and CEO of the American Gas Association, noted “general disagreement the energy industries have with the climate bill sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.),” he then expressed concern that “future legislation could be even harder on the industry.”

“Warner is retiring this year, and then the question is, ‘Who comes into play?'” Parker said. Potentially, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — who both favor greater emission limits than those in the Lieberman-Warner bill — could lead the next attempt to pass climate change legislation under a Democratic president, he said.

“Who would you rather have writing a bill in the Senate? I might guess it may set a tone for business to fully work with the Senate this year,” he said.

Parker said he was worried that “the polar bear habitat is going to really drive this [climate change] debate….”

Yes, we wouldn’t want the disappearing polar ice caps to drive the debate. Scientists only describe the melting Arctic as “the canary in the coal mine for climate warming.” If only fossil fuel lobbyists like Parker could drive the debate — that always works out great!

As I’ve said before, the Lieberman-Warner bill, while a positive advancement in the debate, still falls short of what’s needed to resolve the climate crisis.

Lieberman-Warner does embrace a cap on carbon emissions. But it fails to properly put a price on carbon pollution, by making companies fully pay for pollution permits.

That’s critical to create a disincentive for private companies to pollute public sky, provide money for consumers to mitigate any short-term price increases, and raise revenue to invest in renewable energy — so in the long-term we’ll have millions of good-paying green-collar jobs, and affordable clean power accessible for everyone.

Fossil fuel lobbyists now see working with the conservative-leaning Lieberman and Warner as the best they can do. They lack confidence in their ability to drive the debate in the near-future, and they realize that Lieberman can’t keep up his illusion of occupying the political center for much longer.

They know their position is weak, because they are simply losing the argument on the merits.

This is no time to settle for a plan that doesn’t get the job done.

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