In a bid for “Most Churlish Political Maneuver of 2013,” six Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee have boycotted Obama’s nominee to lead the EPA. Gina McCarthy, Obama's choice, worked under two Republican governors and has a solid, centrist record of administrative achievement. But, of course, that’s not the point. The point is that the only way Obama can affect climate change is to do an end-run around congress by enacting stronger regulations through the EPA. And, if Republicans block his EPA nominee they block his efforts to stop climate change.
Even more to the point is that the Republican Senators who are trying to block McCarthy’s nomination have each received 1 million (Vitter, Inhofe), a half-million (Barasso, Wicker), or hundreds of thousands (Crapo, Sessions, Boozman) in campaign dollars from oil and gas interests over their Senate careers. First-term Republican Senator Deb Fischer took a measly $95,070 from oil and gas, but she’ll catch up. (OpenSecrets.org.) It’s obvious why these Senators take the money -- money wins elections -- but it’s less obvious why their constituents let them. After all, 51% of Republicans now understand that the climate is heating and the boycotting Senators are all from the deep South or the arid west -- regions that will be hit hardest by climate change. I don’t expect a groundswell climate movement to rise up across Ol’ Dixie and cowboy country, but people in these hotter, drier regions are going to suffer the worst from climate change and you’d think they’d want to stop it. They have children too, right?
Yes, but they also (mostly) have conservative ideologies and research shows that even a whiff of environmental protection gives conservatives the hives. A study out of the Wharton Business School found that conservatives were less likely to buy energy-efficient lightbulbs that promised to save money when the packaging declaimed, “Protect the Environment.” They did, however, choose more efficient bulbs with eco-neutral packaging that promised to save money. Predictably, liberals responded positively to greenie packaging -- and were more likely to burn old sneakers for illumination if told it would “Protect the Environment” (Just kidding, that last part.)... read more