Just about a year ago, Senator James Inhofe took to the Senate floor and while discussing climate change, threw a snowball to an aide. His point? It's cold outside. So, climate change? Not happening. It was an absurd bit of political theater but not much of a scientific point. It would have been funny if he wasn't the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Now Senator Snowball is at it again. The Oklahoma Republican, as zealous a climate denier as ever existed, has proposed four new anti-climate amendments to a major energy bill before the Senate (go here for more on the energy bill itself.) They would block or sideline President Obama's climate action agenda and its centerpiece, the landmark Clean Power Plan to clean up dangerous carbon pollution blasting out of power plants, and delay cleaning up our air under the Clean Air Act.
The question is, will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) swallow the bait and tee up climate action denying amendments to the Energy bill? It might be a tough choice for McConnell - after all, voting against climate science and action has made some in his caucus uncomfortable, leading Senators Ayotte, Collins and Kirk to buck McConnell and other party leaders by voting to protect the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan last November.
There are other anti-climate amendments the Senate leader should allow to melt as well, including one expected from Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va) to block implementation of the Clean Power Plan until all legal challenges brought by polluters and their allies are exhausted.
Now is not the time for the Senate to vote for climate denial. It's just days since the news that 2015 was the hottest year since global measurements began, breaking the record set just a year before. And it's just a month since the world community took away one of the deniers' main talking points - that the U.S. can't tackle climate change alone - by agreeing in Paris to a true global effort by more than 190 countries.
The time for climate denial and climate nonsense is over. This stuff has no place on a serious energy bill.
For those who love the details, here are the four amendments Inhofe filed:
Amendment 3006: It would delay the Clean Power Plan until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Electric Reliability Organization complete a redundant reliability analysis. The Clean Power Plan went through extensive review and analysis through the regulatory process, and the rule preserves reliability through design flexibilities coupled with backstop provisions. EPA is already engaged with FERC and the Dept. of Energy to ensure reliability is preserved as the CPP is implemented.
Amendment 3007: It would delay the Clean Power Plan until the completion of multiple duplicative analyses of the climate effects and costs of the Clean Power Plan while ignoring much of the benefits. An EPA cost-benefit analysis has shown it would provide $20 billion in climate benefits and up to $34 billion in health benefits while saving the average American family $85 in electricity bills in 2030.
Amendment 3008: It would block EPA from proposing or finalizing any major Clean Air Act rule until they agency completes a time-consuming "economy-wide analysis" of major Clean Air Act rules. This analysis would have to be updated semi-annually, creating perpetual reviews that would paralyze the agency and deny Americans legal health safeguards required by the Clean Air Act. EPA has found that between 1980 and 2014, we've reduced dangerous air pollution by 63% and the economy has grown by more than 147%, while the benefits of the Clean Air Act have outweighed costs by up to 90 to 1.
Amendment Inhofe 3009: It would block any action under the President's Climate Action Plan, including the Clean Power Plan, if there is an unspecified determination that energy prices could increase for certain groups. Not only is the CPP projected to save the average family $85 on electricity bills by 2030 - a total of $155 billion in electricity bill savings from 2020 to 2030 - but this determination would entirely ignore the $14 to $34 billion in health benefits and lives saved in 2030.