Kyoto-Style Bill Rushing Quietly Through Senate

Just last week conservatives cheered obvious progress in derailing the bipartisan push to quietly adopt the sovereignty-eroding Law of the Sea Treaty or “LOST” that would collectivize the world’s seabed resources (covering 70% of the earth’s surface), among other undesirable things.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined a rump group of pro-sovereignty Senators led by Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to tell the White House that this is one “legacy” item that they should give up on.  Their message was echoed by Republican presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney.

Given that LOST would also impose a version of the Kyoto Protocol on the U.S. it is unsurprising that its backers immediately signaled an effort to quickly advance legislation, again without scrutiny, imposing Kyoto-style energy emission rationing.

On Monday, Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) — long a leading proponent of Kyoto-style legislation — and retiring Republican John Warner asserted their intention to ram a bill through Lieberman’s subcommittee on the Environment and Public Works panel this week, despite the bill having just been released to the public and still with zero debate or legislative scrutiny.  Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) chairs the full Committee and has indicated she may grant it two hearings before the preordained move to approve the bill on the Senate floor.

A quick review of the recent politics of “global warming” reveals such a development, in which the issue suddenly popped up as a top Democrat priority, as par for the course.  Even though former President Bill Clinton calls “Man-made global warming” “the greatest threat facing Mankind”, it was not among the issues on which either party ran in the election campaign of 2006 (or ever).  Indeed, on the rare occasion when a candidate was asked about this longstanding priority of environmentalist pressure groups — which provide substantial funding of and volunteers for (almost unanimously) Democrat candidates — challengers dismissed prospects for acting.

For example, on the eve of the election the trade publication Greenwire succinctly described the non-campaign for such restrictions, in an October 31, 2006 article:

“While Democratic leaders have spelled out some of their top-tier legislative plans should they win control of Congress, the discussion has mostly stayed clear of specifics on energy and environmental policy.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in line to be House speaker if her party wins, is a cosponsor of legislation that sets strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions for industry. But she has not included the climate bill on her legislative short list.”

Indeed, the Democrats’ “First 100 Hours” agenda addressed such matters as raising the minimum wage and dictating the interest rates for student loans, but not “the greatest threat facing Mankind”.  Apparently, imposing such mandates is an issue that neither compels voter support nor is well-served by scrutiny. 

Further, after six years of shrill insistence that fact-finding hearings are an irresponsible delaying tactic and waste of time, the new Democratic majority had literally dozens of hearings on global warming, yet not one on an actual piece of legislation.  After all, actual legislation carries a price tag, and the cost of such bills, which under no scenario or set of assumptions would have a detectable impact on the world’s climate, are something its proponents aggressively seek to mask.  Instead, the focus seemed to be how mean Republicans are for not agreeing with global warming alarmism.

Such a bill’s only vocal supporters are the usual suspects in the anti-growth, anti-population environmental movement, and various business interests picking up on Enron’s cue, buying windmill and solar panel companies and otherwise designing schemes to profit off of what has proven in Europe to be guaranteed “windfall profits” from the ratepayer, running into the billions of dollars annually.

For example, one cost estimate by the federal Energy Information Administration placed the direct cost to the economy of such legislation, which limits one’s ability to use coal, our most abundant domestic energy resource, at half a trillion dollars over just two decades.  Europe’s experience indicates the cost will be much higher with jobs fleeing overseas, ironically including to the U.S., making that a short-lived import from the EU.

As reported today by Greenwire, “Even so, Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and John Barrosso (Wyo.), both subcommittee members, have signaled an interest” in passing such a bill.  They are the sole additional Republicans on that panel seeking to rush a bill through, though full-Committee members Kit Bond (R-Mo) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) have signaled their firm opposition.  Firm though it is, it is not sufficient to block such a measure if their colleagues futilely rush to show their interest in “doing something”, as is typically if inexplicably asserted as a rationale to join such all-pain-no-gain regimes.

It is not for nothing that in a November interview with the Financial Times, former Vice President Al Gore cautioned Congress against taking the direct approach, such as the infamous “Btu tax” — charging consumers a premium for their energy use on top of existing tax schemes — which doomed the first Clinton-Gore budget in 1993.  Gore cited the Btu vote as a major factor in the Democrats losing Congress the next year.  Hence the clever “cap-and-trade” rationing approach. 

Congress seems locked into the mode of quietly imposing an agenda on Americans upon which no one has run an election campaign.  This is particularly true as regards the EU- and UN-style “global warming” schemes crafted to disguise their actual costs to the consumer, which are still too facially suspect to be granted open hearings and debate for risk of exposure.  Public outcry seems to have blocked the LOST gambit, leaving them with the Kyoto implementation-without-ratification effort announced today.