Dingell Stymied Global Warming Standards, Pelosi's Goals

Before the Congress rushed out of Washington to begin their summer vacation, the House moved a series of bills, including their own version of an energy plan.  While the bill had some good energy efficiency provisions, the final version that passed bears little resemblance Speaker Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) promise to move comprehensive global warming legislation by July 4th.

The energy bill lacks the key policies scientists say we need to slow global warming: at least an 80 percent reduction in global warming causing emissions by 2050, a national renewable energy standard of at least 20% by 2020, and a significant increase in average fuel economy.  While the Speaker deserves credit for making global warming one of her top priorities for the 110th Congress and for creating the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, one of Congress’s most powerful members stands in the way of her success.

Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) either stymied or stopped the inclusion into the House energy package of the three comprehensive pieces of global warming solutions.  In addition, Dingell not only voted against an already watered down 15% National Renewable Energy Standard (RES), going against the majority of the House and his own party, he actively whipped his colleagues to vote against the provision. From his position as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell was also instrumental in keeping a significant increase in automobile fuel economy standards out of the package.

Congressman Dingell has abdicated his position of leadership on energy issues, but in the fall he will again have the opportunity to take significant steps forward in combating the impacts of global warming. He has called for a 60-80 percent cut in global warming causing emissions but he has voted against the policies that will achieve them.  It’s time for his actions to match his rhetoric.

The energy debate now moves to the fall when the House and Senate will conference their different energy packages.  The hope is that the Senate’s increase in fuel economy standards for cars and the House’s renewable energy standard are part of the compromise bill.  However, Congressman Dingell will be doing everything in his power to scuttle a compromise that includes these provisions.  The question is will his Democratic colleagues allow him succeed?

The Democrats regained control of the House and Senate after 12 years in the wilderness promising to change the way Washington does business and pledging to tackle the important issues that face our country, including global warming.  With the honeymoon over, and public opinion polls showing the new Congress even more unpopular than the Republican Congress it replaced, time is running out for the Democrats.  Will they support their new Speaker in her pledge to pass strong global warming solutions that make America stronger and more secure or will they allow the longest serving member of the House of Representatives to stymie their leader’s top priority?  If Congressman Dingell can’t deliver for his party and his country, it’s time for him to step aside.