Dems home in on energy policy during week’s recess

Freshman Democratic Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchDems unlikely to subpoena Bolton Democratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super Tuesday A disaster for diplomacy and the Zionist dream MORE, the first lawmaker to make his office carbon-neutral, is at the forefront of the global warming debate in Vermont.

Welch and the rest of the state’s political establishment are awaiting the political fallout, if any, from GOP Gov. Jim Douglas’s threat to veto an energy bill passed by the state’s Democratic legislature that would raise taxes on nuclear power plants to combat global warming.

Against the backdrop of Vermont’s political fight and a larger energy policy battle brewing in Washington, Welch is getting a firsthand look at how global warming is changing the local economy in between marching in parades and touring fire stations.

On Monday, Welch toured Vermont Natural Coatings, a company that is turning whey, the byproduct from producing cheese, into a non-toxic product that can be used to stain wood.

“[Entrepreneurs] don’t put it in the grand Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes unexpected step to stem coronavirus Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives MORE way, but in a very practical way they are motivated by economic opportunity and cost-savings,” Welch said in a telephone interview.

“It’s the intense localization of the economy to deal with the dislocation of globalization,” he added.

House Democratic leaders sent rank-and-file lawmakers home with orders to highlight policies to fight global warming and fashion a Democratic energy policy.

The leadership armed its members with a 14-page briefing packet on veterans’ issues and a 21-page packet on energy policy providing them with talking points, sample op-eds and ideas for public events.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made it clear last week that she would forge ahead, releasing a new energy bill, even though there is little consensus in the Democratic Caucus. The proposal would redirect $16 billion in subsidies for oil and gas drilling to increasing energy efficiency.

But the legislation puts off a fight over whether to raise federal fuel economy standards of cars and trucks. The Senate voted last month to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

The House is expected to vote on energy proposals and the remaining appropriations bills when it returns from the Fourth of July recess next week.

Welch, who has fast become a leader on environmental issues in his freshman class, is scheduled today to visit Lamoille Valley Transportation, which provides public transportation in rural areas of Vermont with buses that use biodiesel. On Thursday, he will tour Stateline Farms, which grows crops that can be converted into biofuels.

Gasoline prices and global warming have attracted a lot of attention over the last several months. Welch, however, noted that most of the feedback he gets back home is “about the war.”

Democratic leaders hope to end the Iraq war later this year, having lacked the votes to do it this spring.

House Democrats were encouraged to hold a global-warming event and tie the theme to the Live Earth Global Warming Concerts on Saturday.

“Local reporters may be looking for an angle to ‘localize’ an international story,” according to the package given to members.

Other proposals included pumping gas at a local gas station, hosting a roundtable discussion with farmers to discuss energy costs or touring a business that has converted a facility into a so-called “green” building to “demonstrate how Democrats would reduce carbon emissions.”

House Democrats are holding nearly 50 energy-related events around the country. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D) held a press conference yesterday on energy policy in his upstate New York office.

Rep. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocratic presidential race comes into sharp focus Democrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado MORE (D-Colo.) spent a few hours yesterday at New Belgium, a self-sustaining microbrewery based in Fort Collins, Colo.; Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) will visit a biodiesel plant on Thursday; and Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) will tour the future site of a soybean ethanol plant and will hold a farmer’s roundtable on homegrown energy.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) is participating in an event on energy efficiency later this week with the Sierra Club, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is scheduled to highlight the high cost of gasoline on Monday.

While Welch’s office has gone carbon-neutral, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s (D-Mo.) mobile office, a minibus, uses grease in lieu of petrol.