The Death of Our Green Congress
“Birds flyin’ high you know how I feel/ Sun in the sky you know how I feel/ Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel/ It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me/ And I’m feeling good…”
When Nina Simone sang those words, she gave a voice to the timeless theme of rebirth as a source of inspiration and energy. Unfortunately, the incoming Republican majority’s new dawn doesn’t have any time for the birds, the sun or the breeze drifting — when the 112th Congress convened last week, the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, created by Nancy Pelosi in 2006, breathed its last, went up in smoke, lost its independence, met its maker and was shown the door by the incoming Republicans. Select committees are responsible for “emerging issues that donít fit clearly within existing standing committee jurisdictions, or which cut across jurisdictional boundaries… all current select committees in the House and Senate are considered permanent committees.” The fact that climate change is both an emerging issue and cuts across jurisdictional boundaries doesn’t seem to matter. The same vindictive disregard that sent Van Jones home from Washington has now sent an entire committee packing.
During the four years that the Select Committee existed they supported the Energy Independence and Security Act, focusing on fuel economy provisions, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, focusing on clean energy investment, and the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, the first comprehensive energy and climate bill ever to pass a house of Congress.
Now, there is no committee committed to bills dealing with climate change, global warming, or whatever else you want to refer to it as. Now, there is no one to deal intensely with environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon fiasco? Now, it will be up to former committee Chair Edward Markey (D-MA) to take his case to the natural resources committee. If I were him, my first order of business would be establishing a sub-committee on energy independence and global warming.
At its final meeting, the committee put together a final report outlining their accomplishments in the past with recommendations for the future. The contents of the report focus on the need for energy independence, the growing climate crisis and the economic challenge of clean tech growth. The report concludes with an ominous truth that:
“Someday, our children and grandchildren will look back on the record of the Select Committee. That record will reflect a respectful and rigorous debate and an unprecedented understanding of the challenges before us. Whether or not they will see that this generation has taken the bold action required by these challenges remains to be seen.”