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Did Tom DeLay do us a favor on climate change?

Via Yglesias, I see that one of the biggest impediments to a real solution for climate change is Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson, who is the chair of the Agriculture Committee. This has Chris Bowers thinking outside the box.

Here is how you pressure Peterson if you are a non-partisan green group: overtly target the left-wing voters in his district during a general election. Run ads that highlight Peterson’s terrible record on climate change and the environment, with a goal of pushing left-wing voters to either stay home or vote third-party (the latter is particularly viable in Minnesota, which is one of the most pro-third party states in the entire country). Make it clear that not only don’t you care if this results in Peterson’s defeat by an even more anti-climate change candidate, but that having an even more anti-climate change candidate defeat Peterson is actually your goal.

From the perspective of a non-partisan climate change organization, a relatively powerless, more conservative anyone is preferable to a very powerful, conservative, committee-chairing Collin Peterson. This is even the case if Peterson is replaced with an even more anti-climate change member of Congress. Given the wide Democratic majority in Congress, and given the specific case of Collin Peterson, exchanging a ten-term committee chair with a freshman member of the minority party results in a net loss of conservative power over climate change legislation. Further, such a radically aggressive act of pressure would demonstrate to the new Agriculture Committee chair that environmental groups are willing to take out anyone who fraks with climate change legislation.

It’s certainly provocative, and given that Peterson’s likely successor as Ag chair is someone with a better record on environmental issues, it’s at least something to contemplate. I’m not saying I endorse this idea – there are some pretty good arguments in the comments for why this could backfire, and for why there may be better alternatives – but it does get one thinking.

What it made me think about is the alternate reality in which Tom DeLay’s redistricting scheme never happened, and Texas’ Charlie Stenholm had ascended to the Ag Committee chair after the Democratic takeover of 2006. Would Stenholm be any better on the issue than Peterson has been? One can’t say for sure, and whatever Stenholm did in the past it’s entirely possible he’d be less obstinate and in denial than Peterson has been, but his voting record doesn’t offer a whole lot of hope. Given how much ground had to be ceded to the relatively much more liberal Gene Green and Charlie Gonzalez to get them to support Waxman-Markey, it’s not hard to imagine that Stenholm would have been a fairly large obstacle as well.

If that’s the case, then my alternate reality is a more hostile place for climate change legislation, in that two powerful members of the Ag Committee could stand in its way. To effect the kind of change Bowers advocates, you’d need to remove both of them, as simply removing Stenholm would leave Peterson in place. But DeLay’s re-redistricting power play has already done the trick of taking out Stenholm, which means that however formidable Peterson is, he’s the last impediment to a better Ag Committee, and thus the task at hand is that much easier. Kind of weird to think about it that way, isn’t it? Now I’m not going to send Tom DeLay a thank-you note – even if I were inclined to actually give him credit for this, he’d never accept it. But I think it does go to show how unintended some consequences can be. Just a thought.

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One Comment

  1. Baby Snooks says:

    The Democrats really aren’t proving to be any more proactive than the Republicans. And we are headed for a climate apocalypse.

    Many of the UN “participating environmental agencies and programs” such as Findhorn Foundation in Scotland are promoting the “350” concept which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from approximately 390 pppm to 350 ppm despite growing scientific evidence that a “normal” range is between 250 to 300 ppm. Preferably 250 ppm. Many point a finger at China and India in order to divert attention from our own emissions. We could reduce the range in this country. The reality is we won’t. Not if it cuts into corporate profit. The Democrats and Republicans both seem to share the belief that profit should be placed above public interest. We really don’t want to give up our nice comfortable lives. It’s too easy to point fingers at everyone else, China and India in particular, than deal with our own refusal to address the problem.

    http://www.350.org

    Many believe that it is not even possible to reduce the emissions to 350 ppm if we continue to deforest the tropical rainforests, the Amazon isn’t the only one, and begin drilling in the Arctic which will release methane gas and increase the amount of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

    Everyone should ask themselves if they want to be fried, baked, or boiled. That is our future. And some say it won’t take another 100 years. Some say it may only take ten years. The main effect of increased carbon dioxide emissions will be increased mean temperatures which most likely will wipe out most of our populations as a result of not only the temperatures but weather changes resulting in massive droughts as well as massive rainfall and flooding in agricultural areas and of course new and deadlier bacteria and viruses.

    And those who survive will then be hit with a sudden reversal and the beginning of another Ice Age in the Northern Hemisphere according to several climatologists.

    About the only thing that might save us is for the depletion cycle to move much more quickly than predicted. Running out of oil might force us to “mend our ways” although more than likely we would turn to coal, “clean coal” which is really not so “clean,” simply because it is cheaper than natural gas which apparently has not hit a peak cycle.

    More and more Democrats as well as Republicans are becoming “Independent” simply because more Democratic and Republican politicians are becoming Republicrats. “Of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation.” The problem is we don’t have any Independent candidates. So we are faced with the perceived “lesser of two evils” and in the matter of environmental issues there really is no lesser of two – there is just evil.