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Bipolar Bipartisanship Kills Climate Panel

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday December 6th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Heads in the sand, or more properly, in the ozone.

Choking off the House climate change committee is not a big surprise but depressing in its implications nonetheless. The panel’s valuable work would be marginalized and ignored, or worse turned into a Glenn Beck-style circus in the Republican-controlled Congress next year. At least we’ll be spared that.

Killing the committee makes a kind of silly sense, from the conservative climate-change-denier point of view: skewing and spinning the conversation about vital issues is after all what Republicans do best.

Maybe if they don’t talk about it, research it, show it, we’ll all forget, or maybe energy issues and climate change will simply fix themselves. We’re just talking about the weather right?

Anyway the extinction of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming by the incoming Republican leadership is neither a cause for celebration nor a sign that the issue is resolved or will somehow disappear. Nor is it some sort of cost-cutting action.

The panel’s most recent hearing on Wednesday focused on energy security, jobs and climate – its title, presciently enough, was “Not Going Away.” It was the committee’s final hearing.

A statement from the select committee said that while “politics continue to evolve here in America, the challenges presented by our dependence on oil and fossil fuels, and the increasing destabilization of the climate continues to persist.” General Wesley Clark, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others discussed these challenges from national, economic and planetary security perspectives.

The next day the axe came down on the committee from House Republican Leader John Boehner, who becomes Speaker of the House in January.

“While I was initially skeptical of the select committee’s mission, it ultimately provided a forum for bipartisan debate, and an opportunity for House Republicans to share a different view on the pressing energy and environment issues that we currently face,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the ranking GOP member on the committee. He argued in vain against disbanding the panel.

Rep. Boehner’s action proves once again that Republican leaders don’t really want to lead, and don’t really want to work collaboratively to address the most urgent problem facing the planet.

It’s merely the first example of the polarized atmosphere we’re in for the next two years. There will be lots more.


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