OUTCOME OF BILL WAS ASSURED WITHOUT STARK’S VOTE
Forty-four Democrats in the House split with their party in Friday’s historic climate change bill. Of those, 15 came from districts that supported President Obama last November, including Rep. Pete Stark.
The venerable lefty, who has represented the East Bay since 1973, called the bill watered down. “We are right to act with urgency to end our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels and combat global warming,” said Stark, “But we cannot waste this opportunity by moving a deeply flawed bill that provides too much to special interests and too little to the environment and consumers.”
The vote, which now heads to the Senate, narrowly gained passage 219-212. The Congressional Quarterly speculated many in the House who voted against the bill are attempting to either appear to be an adversary to Democrats in 2010 or, like, Stark and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) positioning themselves to be independent of the president. Others believe Stark voted against the bill since his and other staunch liberals would not have affected its outcome.
Stark says a passage in the bill calling for a new carbon market will be exploited by speculators on Wall Street. The creation of a carbon market, he says, will grow to the largest commodities and derivative market in five years and will foster market volatility that may force energy companies to switch back to coal for their bottom line.
“This is the scenario that has played out in the European Union, where prices have swung wildly and some power plants have actually switched back to coal due to the low cost of emissions permits,” Stark said yesterday on the House floor.
Stark also took exception to concessions made by Democrats to coal-producing states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania. “This legislation continues the ‘clean coal’ myth by providing at least $60 billion for pie in the sky projects that will only continue the destruction of mountains and waterways at the hands of coal mining operations.”
Some critics believe various “clean coal” theories such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is technically feasible but an example of a red herring perpetrated by King Coal. Jeff Goodell, the author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future, said “Unfortunately, CCS is more fantasy than reality at the moment.” (Read a post from the Commonwealth Club of California on the subject here.)