Evan Bayh and the Environment Symbolic of Our National Paralysis

Aug 27 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Signatories of the Kyoto Protocol

The United States of America has a woeful environmental record. I mean, it is simply dismal if you look at the figures. Even worse if you look at America’s steadfast refusal to participate in any global climate reform initiative. Does the Kyoto Protocol ring any bells? The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and became effective on 16 February 2005. To date, according to the United Nations, 192 parties have signed and ratified the protocol.

But not the United States. Remember that fact as you read along.

The reader might ask why I am singling out Senator Evan Bayh for today’s roasting. The answer is simple: he is my senator. By mine I mean that he purports to represent me and my interests in the Senate. In what is surely not a solitary lament, I complain that he does not.

But Senator Bayh is retiring, you might protest. Yes, he is, but he is representative of a bigger problem, and his stance on environmental issues are hardly unique.

I send many letters to my congressmen and sign many petitions. Obviously I do not hear back on the petitions but I do read the responses I receive to my letters with some interest. It is true they are form letters; a senator can hardly afford to personally address himself to each of his constituents. And it is to one of these responses I shall address myself here today.

Evan Bayh

The letter to which I am referring is from Evan Bayh and it is regarding climate change. I’ve actually answered his responses before and he likely treats my answers like I treat his. So I thought I’d use a public forum to answer him this time.

“I am deeply concerned about the threat posed by global climate change.”

This makes me wince. I find this difficult to believe you mean this as you’ve been rated 74% by the League of Conservation Voters, indicating pro-environment votes. (Dec 2003) and 77 percent rating from the LCV in 2008. Your ratings have been pretty consistent.

“The scientific consensus on this issue is unequivocal. Global warming is real and greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are causing it. Scientists and others warn that climate change threatens our nation’s security, and may imperil future generations’ opportunity for safe, healthy, and prosperous lives.”

Well said. However, I feel a “but” coming. Oh! Here it is:

“However, any carbon-constraining mechanism must protect Hoosier ratepayers, workers and businesses from increased costs.”

It all comes down to the almighty dollar, doesn’t it? I realize the economy is suffering and so are the American people.

In 2009, Senator Bayh, you voiced concerns about cap and trade, arguing that Indiana’s economy would suffer. Yes, it would reduce carbon emissions, but as he claimed on MSNBC’s Hardball, “If you don’t do it in the right kind of way, you’re taking money from carbon-intensive states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and redistributing it to California, New York.”

The problem is that almost all of the electricity in Indiana is still produced from coal, a leading cause of carbon emissions and an industry that is certain to face the greatest challenges and costs if a cap-and-trade system is created.

“Additionally, other nations of the world must be included in this effort, because if they are not, our action will be for naught.”

Remember when I asked you to remember America’s non-participation in the Kyoto Protocol?

Other nations ARE involved, Senator Bayh.

And just last July, Democrats in the Senate abandoned a bill to cap carbon emissions in the face of opposition. Senator Bayh, you talk about how our response must be based on foreign participation but as the Huffington Post reports, the US failure to pass the proposed legislation will likely have a negative effect on world climate reform.

Has it occurred to you that people in other countries are saying the same thing about us that you say about them?

You see, I hope, where the problem lies?

And look at this mode of thinking for a moment. You’re saying that you know we have to do it, but you’re also saying that if everyone else doesn’t do it too that we don’t have to. If everyone takes this attitude, nothing will get done – ever.

That seems to be the problem, and with all due respect to you Senator, you are part of the problem. You are not part of the solution.

You have been more interested in saving your job than in saving the planet.

You said, on another occasion, “Clearly, if we could get a global solution to this problem, that would be ideal, but I have seen nothing to suggest that the Chinese or the Indians are anxious about participating, and until that is the case, we are not going to solve the problem.”

It might not solve the problem, Senator Bayh, but it would help. Are you saying that unless we can do it all at once we should do nothing at all, and just let the pollution continue unabated? Is the old expression “charity begins at home” helpful at all in this regard?

Can we say that unless everyone does it, I shouldn’t bother either because just my actions alone won’t solve the problem? Is that really a viable excuse?

And look at the map for a moment, Senator. Do you see who agreed to the Protocol? China (30 Aug 2002) and India (26 Aug 2002). Do you see who did not? The United States.

“Please rest assured, should legislation regarding global climate change be introduced in the 111th Congress, I will keep your views in mind.”

For the record, your scorecard: 111th, 1st session is just 82%. You may be keeping my views in mind, Senator Bayh, but you are not acting on them.

I know you are retiring, Senator Bayh, but keep in mind what could be, if you will: As the LCV announced in their 2009 overview, “Consider that each of the six new senators endorsed by LCV in 2008 earned a perfect 100% in 2009. In sharp contrast, the six senators they replaced had an average lifetime score of 23%.”

This is what we want, Senator Bayh. Action, not words. Thomas Paine said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” The United States has not led, it has not followed, and it cannot get out of the way. If I am lucky, my next senator will understand that it is too late for spurious reasoning, that it is time to act

4 responses so far