Month 8, Day 12: Common-Sense Deficit Syndrome? GAFB!

Sometimes I just want to bang my head against a wall.

Solar industry officials are pleading with President Obama to restore billions of dollars in renewable energy loan guarantees that Congress is at least temporarily cutting to pay for emergency education and Medicaid help to states and other policy priorities.

The loss of these loan guarantee funds could help “send solar development into a tailspin that will be difficult to reverse,” according to a letter to Obama sent Monday from Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

House lawmakers Tuesday are slated to approve a $26.1 billion state education and Medicaid funding package the Senate passed last week that would be partially paid for by slashing $1.5 billion in renewable energy-loan guarantees approved in last year’s economic stimulus bill.

What Al Gore said

“These rescissions put into jeopardy the green jobs that the administration has touted as part of our clean-energy future and put us further behind the rest of the world,” Gore said on his website Monday afternoon.

I’m not a professional Leftist; I’m more of an amateur. But by Grabthar’s Hammer, I am pretty fucking pissed off about this.

My emotional state is concealed, however, by my erudition.

Dear President Obama and Speaker Pelosi —

It is of the utmost importance that the $3.5 billion which has been taken from the renewable energy and transmission loan-guarantee program be restored. While deficit reduction must be part of our thinking, there is no alternative to pursuing renewable energy with all our attention, enthusiasm and funding.

We cannot continue to burn oil and coal in the years to come. Not only is our national security complicated by our financial entanglements with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries, our long-term survival is at stake. With atmospheric CO2 well on track to be over 400 ppm within a year or two, the fight against global warming has already been significantly compromised. In order to maintain a world climate suitable for human survival and prosperity, we must change our energy economy without delay.

If the United States is to maintain a role as a world leader, then we cannot afford to shrug off the problems of smaller states; we cannot afford to wait for India and China to reduce their carbon footprints before acting on our own. The laws of physics pay no heed to political exigencies; greenhouse gases know nothing of election-year strategies. The problem of global climate change is the defining one of our generation, and we must tackle it on all levels: as individuals, as communities, as regions, as states, as a country, and as part of a global society.

At this moment in the world’s history, cutting funding for renewable energy is a grotesque abdication of our responsibilities to one another and the planet as a whole. Please act with dispatch and resolve to ensure that financial resources are restored to renewable energy programs. Failing to spend that money is a foolishness we cannot afford.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 4, Day 22: I Never Understood Football, But I Think I Know What “Punting” Means

According to Rollcall:

Democratic leaders are pushing ahead with plans to move comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year — even if it means punting on energy legislation until next Congress.


During the meeting, Reid “reiterated his intention to move forward” this year on immigration reform, one aide said, adding that Pelosi agreed it is a top priority, even beyond energy legislation.

“The Speaker did agree that if faced with a choice between energy and immigration, she’d go with immigration,” the aide said.

However, a House Democratic aide insisted that Pelosi’s comments were aimed only at the timing of the two issues, and that she meant that immigration could advance before energy reform.

So….a letter to Nancy and Harry:

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid,

I was distressed to read in today’s “Rollcall” that the priority treatment accorded to immigration reform is apparently making it more likely that a comprehensive and robust energy and climate bill will have to wait until after the 2010 elections.

There is not much time left for us to get things done if we are to have a hope of making a difference. Many climatic tipping points have already been passed. Arctic methane is beginning to enter the atmosphere; the oceans are approaching dangerous levels of acidity. Atmospheric CO2 is well above safe levels and climbing. The worst-case Venusian scenarios outlined by Dr. James Hansen have moved out of the realm of wild speculation and are now statistically significant probabilities. And meanwhile, our representatives in government are anxious — about their own political safety.

Let me be clear: there will never be a time when it is “politically safe” to make robust and meaningful climate/energy legislation come to pass. Why? Because the time lag between climate action and climate effect is longer than the elected term of a U.S. Senator, let alone a Representative. Thus, there is no mechanism in our electoral system that encourages longer-term thinking. But this is an explanation, not an excuse.

America and the planet need this bill to be passed; we need it to be comprehensive and robust, and we need it to have regulatory teeth. The lives of our descendants hang in the balance. There is no time to lose; no time to waste. We’ve put off genuine climate action for decades. Don’t put it off again.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 3, Day 23: Loving Nancy

I was inspired by Nancy Pelosi last night. She’s done a fabulous job. Even though a climate bill has already passed the house, I thought I’d send her a letter letting her know that at least one American Democrat is hoping for more from this Congress on climate issues.

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

Congratulations on your extraordinary efforts and your extraordinary success in bringing the Health Care bill to passage. My wife and I were glued to the screen last night, and as the final vote total reached 216, we both cheered, clapped, wept and embraced. Your advocacy and passion were integral to bringing this about. I look forward to seeing the reconciliation fixes go through the Senate in a few days’ time, and to cheering, clapping, weeping and embracing my wife again!

This letter, though, is not simply a congratulation. I write to urge you: apply similar passion and strength to the passage of meaningful climate legislation in the coming years. Waxman-Markey is an excellent start, but it’s only a start. We are going to need much stronger and more robust approaches to the climate crisis in the next few years, or the consequences to our nation and our planet will be unimaginable.

This is a harder sell, I know. Persuading members of an elected body to support legislation that addresses problems which are only beginning to happen is contrary to the usual practice of American politics, which is to wait until things are at crisis point until doing anything. Unfortunately, that won’t work with the Earth’s climate, which doesn’t care about the exigencies of American politics. By the time things are at a crisis point, it will be too late.

For a century we’ve heard from timid politicians and pundits that “it’s not the right time to fix health care.” Yesterday, you proved them wrong. We’ve also been hearing that it’s not the right time to address climate change, for there are so many other priorities that occupy our political attention. But it will never be “the right time” to address climate change, because the lag between climate action and climate response is greater than the electoral cycle of a U.S. Senator (let alone a member of the House of Representatives).

While it may not be “the right time” to tackle the climate crisis — it’s the only time we’ve got. I’m glad you’re the Speaker of the House right now, for this problem can’t be kicked down the road for a future Congress to handle.

Thank you for all that you have done for our nation.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders