White House on Climate Change Legislation: Its The Economy, Stupid

BoxerThe Senate Environment and Public Works Committee begins hearings today on the the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill,  the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

You might think that a bill devoted to mitigating the effects of global warming would inspire testimony about climate change.

You would be wrong.

Following the lead of President Obama’s Friday speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a poll showing that Americans care less about global warming than they used to, the whole administration has begun to cleave to the old Clintonian saw in the climate change debate: It’s the economy, stupid.

Let’s look at Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s testimony.

When I appeared before you in July, I focused on the energy challenge and the grave threat from climate change… Today, I want to focus on the other half of the energy equation: the energy opportunity.

He then rattles off the Energy Information Administration’s estimates of the markets for wind turbines and solar PV panels in the next 20 years at $2.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion.

And, of course, no statement on America’s energy future is complete without a nod to the Red Menace – “China is spending about $9 billion a month on clean energy.”

Finally, he gives a shout out to today’s announcement of the government’s investment of $3.4 billion in smart grids.

But surely EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will talk a bit about global warming?

Nope.

First, the legislation would transform the American economy from one that is relatively ineffecient and dependent on highly-polluting energy production to one that is highly efficient and powered by advanced, cleaner, and more domestically sourced energy.

Of course, not everyone avoided evocation of polar bears adrift on melting ice, disappearing glaciers and soil-puckering droughts. Committee Chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer, in her majority statement, conjures images of lives lost and people displaced during Hurricane Katrina.

The Katrina experience “provides a window into the kind of world we can expect if we fail to act.”

But everyone else seems to have gotten the memo. Climate change legislation is about America’s economic future, not cataclysmic climate change.

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