It’s on: US-China, KXL, and the wild ride of a real climate battle

November 16, 2014

Dizzy? Disoriented after the US and China reached a breakthrough climate deal the week after James “Greatest Hoax” Inhofe became the presumptive chair of the Senate Environment Committee and some Senate Democrats lined up to pre-emptively surrender on Keystone XL? You should be.

Next week promises to be another wild ride, with the Senate vote on KXL Tuesday.   To help you get your bearings, 3 quick reads:

I got to watch my wife laugh her ass right off her barstool over Bill McKibben’s Salon piece taking Senator Carper to task on KXL:

“He’s the guy who joins Weight Watchers and somehow figures that makes it OK to eat a pan of brownies. He buys a membership at the gym but spends all weekend in the recliner watching ESPN. He’s the guy — like too many of the Democrats in Congress — who wants it both ways. We should applaud him for his theoretical enlightenment, and he should never have to actually cast a hard vote that might annoy the fossil fuel industry. (Uh-huh.) There are days when I’d rather deal with Jim Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma and a world-famous climate change denier. Yes, he’ll wreck the planet, but at least he’ll tell you he’s doing it, straight up….

Read more at “Congress is about to sabotage Obama’s historic climate deal.”

The U.S.-China climate agreement is a huge deal — a cornerstone of the solutions context in which our small efforts make sense.  Here’s my take on the politics of the deal and the KXL vote that would undermine it (from my post in Crosscut “Celebrate the US-China climate deal, and watch your back“):

The deal suggests that Democrats — like Secretary of State John Kerry and top Obama aide and prospective Clinton campaign chief John Podesta, chief architects of the agreement — have figured out that standing up to the fossil fuel industry and delivering real solutions is good politics.  (It turns out that people, especially the “rising” but depressed electorate, actually prefer planet Earth to planet Toast by very wide margins!)

So take heart.  I mean it.

…But watch your back. Because next week the U.S. Senate plans to vote on a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Ironically, the motivation appears to be a desperate attempt to help Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, keep her seat in a runoff election against Bill Cassidy, the guy who wrote the bill approving Keystone in the House, the very same bill that Landrieu wants the Senate to pass!

Landrieu’s desperate attempt to claw her way back by passing her opponents’ bill might suggest why voters see her as something less than a model of strength and integrity. By joining Republicans and caving to oil, Democrats would win exactly nothing politically, while showing their willingness to make themselves indistinguishable from the opposition if that’s what it takes to win … or even just to lose by a little less. And they wonder why voters stay home.

The President seems to be responding to the bald adversity of the mid-terms by getting his game on. It seems a lot more likely that he can win the fight when he’ll have it.  From the G20 meeting in Australia:

“Barack Obama tells G20 a global climate change deal is possible and vital”