Con: Obama must pass health and energy acts to restore prosperity and retain his efficacy
WASHINGTON EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, Is the cost of pending climate change legislation too high?
Predictably the Big Three of the “pollution industry”—oil, coal and petrochemicals—are taking advantage of the recession by unleashing their lobbying legions in a last-gasp attempt to defeat climate change legislation.
This despite the fact that President Obama made his plan to combat global warming by slashing carbon emissions a central issue of his presidential campaign last fall, and won by a near landslide.
The voice of the people apparently doesn’t count much with industry critics who now are trying to scare the American people that the environmental regulations and taxes needed to carry out Obama’s “green” will somehow cost countless jobs.
The argument of these conservative naysayers is specious at best. As national unemployment soars past 9.7 percent, the growth of “green jobs” in the engineering, manufacturing, and construction sectors in hard-hit states such as California is one of the few bright spots amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
If the Big Polluters have their way, they will abort millions of jobs in a fledgling green economy that already has generated over $6 billion in venture capital in California and an estimated $1.5-billion in Massachusetts.
Their counterattack—spurred by right-wing extremists such as Fox News’ Glenn Beck and talk radio’s Rush Limbaugh—has scored some early victories, including the early September sacking of Van Jones, the president’s brilliant “green jobs” czar.
Jones, a graduate of the Yale law school, resigned for once referring to Republicans in the vulgate and for disbelieving the 9/11 Commission official’s report—which likely makes him part of a growing body of Americans.
Obviously, the oil, coal and petrochemicals industries would rather see the president’s proposed expansion of “green collar” jobs in solar, wind and other sustainable energies disappear than pay carbon taxes to offset their own spewing of greenhouse gases.
There is no indication that if industries such as Big Coal or Big Oil received a pass to continue business as usual it would save any jobs, but numerous studies suggest it would exacerbate catastrophic global warming by the end of the century—and perhaps before.
While coal production in the United States has grown over the last 20 years by a little over 30 percent, coal industry jobs have been cut in half. Big Coal is now trying to persuade Congress to allow it to use the oxymoronic “clean coal” excuse to avoid strict environmental regulations. “Clean coal” will bring no new jobs to hard-hit coal-producing states such as West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.
President Obama’s clean economy and green collar jobs programs will spark creation of 5 million new jobs in the next decade. Proposed White House penalties on U.S. manufacturers who ship jobs overseas will help ensure that unscrupulous U.S. firms trying to cash in on the green economy do not outsource the manufacturing of solar cells to China, India and Mexico.
With carbon dioxide, methane and other pollutants threatening disastrous rising sea-levels due to massive melting of polar and glacial ice, the world cannot afford to wait while the polluters use their K Street lobbyists to stifle the president’s green economy program. The time to act in passing strong environmental legislation—as former President Clinton liked to say—is sooner, not later.
President Obama used the bully pulpit to marvelous effect on the campaign trail but seems to have misplaced it at the White House. He needs to locate that prime piece of furniture, put it front and center in the Oval Office and use his great gift of moral suasion to kick the pollution lobby off Capitol Hill and into the Potomac.
The “make or break” month of his presidency has arrived. It’s time to stop Big Business from conducting business as usual.
Wayne Madsen is a contributing writer to the progressive Online Journal (www.onlinejournal.com). Readers may write to him c/o National Press Club, Front Desk, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20045.