Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Lisa Murkowski Is Determined To Make Cheney's Chernobyl Even Worse


Yesterday we talked about the very profitable investment Big Oil made when they banded together with other avaricious multinational special-interest corporations to purchase another U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana. Chipping in a mere $783,835 to David Vitter's checkered political career paid off very, very nicely for them, even if it has caused the devastation of the southern part of his state and ruined the lives of a few thousand-- or a few hundred thousand-- families. After all, like Rand Paul, announced, quoting Elvis, when someone asked him about the Gulf disaster, "Accidents happen."

What conservatives have never gotten is that that's why we band together and have something called "government." And part of what government does is to protect society at large from selfish predators out for themselves. Let me quote a couple of lines from Tom Hartmann's Threshold:
One of the prime directives of the corporate form has always been to "internalize profits and externalize costs," and one of the main ways this has been done over the past two centuries since the advent of the Industrial Revolution is to use the resources of nature to generate a profit and to dump the "costs"-- the waste-- produced in the industrial processes back into nature at "no cost" to the corporation.

So who pays the costs? Society, the taxpayers... It's a conservative form of welfare, privatizing profits and socializing losses, and it's something government should protect us against. Except conservatives and the vested interests for whom they dance do what they can-- and they have the resources to do quite a lot-- delegitimize government in general and fight against the regulatory functions of government particularly. At this time in history, all Republicans and conservative Democrats (Blue Dogs and "New Dems") are dedicated to this approach, an approach that coincidentally has made them personally extremely wealthy; who'da thunk?

And that brings us to Frank Murkowski and his girl Lisa (photo right). Frank has been retired from public life-- the one positive thing Sarah Palin has ever done-- but he was considered so outrageously corrupt, in a Senate built on corruption, that his own caucus asked him to get out of Dodge. After serving from 1981 until 2002, he ran for governor of Alaska-- and then appointed his own daughter (yes, Lisa) to take care of the family business back in D.C. As chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Frank was able to break all kinds of records for bribery from the extraction industry. His life's dream was to open up ANWAR (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) for his Big Oil patrons. He was widely considered the most embarrassing crook to have served in the U.S. Senate since the Roaring Twenties.

And his short tenure as Alaska's governor was even worse. After one term he was defeated in the GOP primary, coming in third behind two incompetent imbeciles, the aforementioned Palin and John Binkley. Murkowski got 19% of the votes, which was identical to his approval rating, the lowest of any governor anywhere... ever (although it did fall another 5 points before he finally left office).

This year the three top-grossing Big Oil members of Congress are three shameless conservative hacks:
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR- $286,400)
David Vitter (R-LA- $242,600)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK- $209,826)

Not even beloved Big Oil handmaidens like Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK, $139,700), Roy Blunt (R-MO, $133,100) and John Cornyn (R-TX, $130,525) have gotten that kind of money. And when it comes to B.P.... well, guess who the apple of their eye is! 70% of B.P.'s political "contributions" have gone to Republicans, and pretty much all of the rest to conservative Democrats like Blanche Lincoln. But the Senator they love the most is Lisa Murkowski, of course. And she works hard for the money.

So while 65% of Americans have been more or less moved from their political ennui-- if not lethargy-- to tell pollsters they favor the filing of criminal charges against B.P., Halliburton and TransOcean, daughter-of-Frank somehow sees the tragedy in the Gulf as a way of further eroding government responsibility towards regulating Big Oil! That's right, this shameless daughter of privilege and corruption has offered a resolution in the Senate aimed at prohibiting the EPA from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, and rolling back four decades of bipartisan protections for the health of Americans and accountability on polluters.

Yesterday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson explained at HuffPo why Murkowski's bought-and-paid-for resolution would be so disastrous for America. She writes that Thursday "the Senate will vote on legislation that would take us back to the same old failed policies and increase America's oil dependence by billions of barrels. Senator Lisa Murkowski, with strong support from big oil companies and their lobbyists, has proposed a resolution that would drastically weaken our nation's historic effort to increase fuel savings, save consumers money and cut oil consumption from American cars and trucks."
Senator Murkowski's resolution would take away EPA's ability to protect the health and welfare of Americans from greenhouse gas pollution. The resolution would ignore and override scientific findings and allow big oil companies, big refineries and others to continue to pollute without any oversight or consequence. It would also gut EPA's authority in the clean cars program, a program that would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut down on air pollution.

This resolution would take us back to the old energy policies by allowing the polluters to simply pay modest penalties to avoid full compliance with the standards. As a result, the resolution would increase our dependence on oil by 455 million barrels. That dependence rises to billions of barrels when you factor in the Murkowski resolution's effect on a follow-on program that expands fuel efficiency to heavy-duty vehicles and extends beyond the 2016 model year.

Undermining a program supported by our automakers and autoworkers, environmentalists and governors from across the country seems questionable at any time. But going back to a failed approach and deepening our oil addiction at the very moment a massive spill-- the largest environmental disaster in American history-- is devastating families and businesses and destroying precious wetlands runs contrary to our national interests. It abdicates the responsibility we have to move the country forward in a way that creates jobs, increases our security by breaking our dependence on foreign oil, and protects the air and water we rely on.

The Murkowski resolution also undermines EPA's common sense strategy for cutting greenhouse gases. Our carefully constructed approach exempts small businesses, homes, farms, and other small sources from regulation. We know that the local coffee shop or the backyard grill is no place to look for meaningful CO2 reductions. We're tackling our largest polluters and calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive energy and climate law-- one that would extend the protection of small businesses.

At no point in our history has any problem been solved by waiting another year to act or burying our heads in the sand. Our oil addiction is not going to go away unless we act. A broad coalition of industry, government and environmental advocates believe that it can be done-- and we have a plan in motion. There is no need for a resolution that would weaken this important program. Now is not the time to go back. Rather than increasing our addiction, we need to keep moving America forward into a clean energy future.

Jackson is hardly the only astute observer who has recognized the perfidy in Murkowski's planned attack on federal regulatory functions that protect society from its enemies. In an article entitled "With friends like Lisa Murkowski, the climate doesn't need enemies," Ezra Klein eviscerated Murkowski in yesterday's Washington Post.
If you were to zoom out on the BP oil spill and try to draw some lessons about prevention, you'd probably come up with these: Continued reliance on fossil fuels carries costs that travel far beyond what we pay at the pump. Things that will eventually go wrong do go wrong, and lack of planning makes the eventual catastrophe much harder to solve. When regulators can't, or don't, do their jobs, bad things happen. And finally, prevention is better, safer and cheaper than cleanup.

But that's not what Sen. Lisa Murkowski has taken away.

Murkowski plans to offer a resolution barring the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions. In other words, Murkowski plans to offer a resolution making it less likely we move away from fossil fuels, making it less likely we act to prevent a foreseeable catastrophe (in this case, global warming) from occurring, blocking regulators from doing their jobs, and disrupting one of our best opportunities to prevent climate change rather than scramble to respond after its incalculable effects rip through our atmosphere.

Ironically, Alaska's August 24th Republican primary pits Murkowski against a crackpot teabagger, Joe Miller, who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin because he is an even more anti-environment, pro-corporate shill for Big Oil than Murkowski! Republican support for Big Oil-- and corporations in general-- is an essential ingredient of the Nature of Conservatism. After all, none of this would ever have happened without the active intervention of Texas oil whores George Bush, Dick Cheney, Joe Barton and Tom DeLay. And, as if on cue, as many as a dozen people may be dead in a massive Texas gas pipeline explosion southwest of Dallas.

UPDATE: Obama Says He'll Veto Murkowski's Big Oil Bill If The Senate Passes It

This morning Obama put his foot down and issued a veto threat if Murkowski's toxic amendment somehow passes, something that seems pretty unlikely.
The Administration strongly opposes Senate passage of S.J. Res. 26, which would undermine the Clean Air Act and hinder EPA’s ability to comply with a Supreme Court ruling on greenhouse gasses (GHGs). The Administration believes that comprehensive energy and climate legislation is the most effective way to transition to a clean energy economy that will create jobs, protect the environment, and increase national security. S.J. Res. 26 would do just the opposite; it would increase the Nation’s dependence on oil and other fossil fuels and block efforts to cut pollution that threatens our health and well-being.

Specifically, passage of S.J. Res. 26 would block implementation of an historic, multi-agency Federal program set in motion by the Administration to promote fuel economy standards that will reduce oil consumption, save American consumers more than $3,000 in fuel costs over the lifetime of a model year 2016 vehicle, and limit pollution from tailpipe emissions. S.J. Res. 26 also would undermine the Administration’s efforts to reduce the negative impacts of pollution and the risks associated with environmental catastrophes, like the ongoing BP oil spill. As seen in the Gulf of Mexico, environmental disasters harm families, destroy jobs, and pollute the Nation’s air, land and water. Further, S.J. Res. 26 is contrary to the widely-accepted scientific consensus that GHGs are at increasingly dangerous concentrations and are contributing to the threat of climate change. S.J. Res. 26 would strip EPA of its authority to protect the public from GHG pollution, and thus prevent it from following its statutory obligations as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

Finally, S.J. Res. 26 would undo EPA’s carefully constructed approach to reducing pollution generated by the largest oil companies, oil refineries, and other large-scale polluters. EPA’s reasoned approach will provide industry certainty, which is essential to jumpstarting private -sector investments and innovation in clean, renewable energy. S.J. Res. 26 would block the United States from taking action to control environmentally damaging GHGs while other nations take the lead in transitioning to clean energy economies that create the jobs of the future.

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At 12:05 PM, Anonymous mediabob said...

Hold on, I think I saw this on an episode of Lost. Or, maybe we should see this on some summer blockbuster. Howie, you need to start preparing your posts in a form more conducive to a screenplay.

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

THIS is an official "reality blog" mediabob...Howie and Keni imagine it, we comment and then Keni adds Muzak...and repeat...

In other Alaska newz, more proof bad apples don't fall far from teh tree...



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