Gregg Easterbrook titles his recent critique -- of my own critique of a recent New Republiceditorial -- "Dim Prospect." He may be right about my brain wattage: I've read his article several times and I'm still a little confused.
Sigh. Keeping the planet inhabitable seems like such a no-brainer. And yet in spite of heaps, mounds, and mountains of hard scientific data, some still opt for the more "unpredictable" narrative about the environment. A recent New Republic editorial pooh-poohs the green movement's doomsday warnings as the product of a morosely overactive imagination. It then goes on to berate Democrats for a "symbiotic and increasingly pernicious" relationship with environmentalists.
New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer excoriated the controversial Senate energy bill today, calling the legislation an "evil stew" of industry tax breaks and environmental rollbacks.
Schumer, who joined the Sierra Club, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the National Research Defense Council (NRDC) and Public Citizen in a hastily assembled press conference in the Dirkson Senate Office Building, bemoaned the lack of "breakthrough thinking" needed after the September 11 attacks and the California blackouts. "I can't believe that at this time we are passing this bill," he said. "If someone came down from Mars and looked at our bill, and looked at our situation, they would scratch their heads in amazement."
The collapse of Enron generated a flurry of speculation about Texas Senator Phil Gramm's political loyalties, owing to his wife's position on Enron's board and Enron's extensive contributions to Gramm's campaigns. Whatever Gramm's motivations are, shame doesn't seem to be among them.
As Senate Republicans accused Democrats of obstructing the energy bill last week, Gramm quietly blocked an amendment introduced by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein that would have strengthened regulations on energy derivatives trading. Translation: it would have closed the loophole that allowed Enron to hide wholesale prices from buyers and control markets.
Drilling in Alaska looks like a nonstarter in the Senate. Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts has promised to filibuster the issue when the energy bill is reopened for debate, and the GOP probably won't muster enough votes to win. Are the greens celebrating? Not entirely. The ones at Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy nonprofit started by Ralph Nader, fear that the defeat of arctic drilling will actually leave conservatives sitting pretty in the briar patch.