Alexander: Obama failing in climate change leadership

Posted on October 27, 2009

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) on Monday said President Barack Obama is promoting a climate-change bill that would "deliberately" kill American jobs -- a statement immediately dismissed by the bill’s chief promoter, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Boxer, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has released a 900-page bill with Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) that is expected to be marked up next week. But hearings are scheduled to start Tuesday for three days, with nine panels of 54 total witnesses expected to come before the committee. Notably, Alexander said he accepts the science behind global-warming and the need for a climate-change bill, but emphasized the Republican approach is superior. As he has for several weeks, Alexander said the country should devote itself to building 100 more nuclear power plants over the next 20 years, converting half of the country's autos to electricity in the next 20 years; increase offshore oil exploration and increase investments in energy research and development. "I don't have an issue with the problem. The National Academy of Sciences of 11 industrialized countries, including our own national academies, have said that climate change is real and that humans have probably caused most of the recent warning. That's plenty of evidence for me," Alexander said. "I mean, if a fire chief said said my house was about to burn down, I'd buy some fire insurance. My problem is with the solution. If my house was about to burn down, I wouldn't buy the most expensive insurance, and I wouldn't buy insurance that was so expensive I couldn't pay my mortgage or I couldn't pay my hospital bill." Alexander laid the blame for the Kerry-Boxer bill at Obama's feet, saying the legislation "deliberately kills jobs, and it deliberately makes Americans poor... Instead, we need two other words -- presidential leadership. " In response, Boxer gave The Hill this statement: “We know clean energy is the ticket to keeping America competitive in the world and ensuring strong, stable economic growth here at home. The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is specifically designed to move us to a clean energy economy, create millions of jobs here in America, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and protect our children from pollution.” Asked about Hill rumors that Republican senators may boycott the committee hearings, Alexander side-stepped the question -- noting the bill only became available within the past few days and saying he prefers a thorough schedule of hearings. "For this week, I'd like to see good hearings on the bill we have," Alexander said. "What we're saying is, the more we can read the bill and know what it costs in mark-up, the better we'll do." The Kerry-Boxer bill has already divided Democrats, with Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) going to bat for his coal-dominated state by calling the bill's requirements “a disappointing step in the wrong direction.” The Boxer-Kerry legislation calls for a 20 percent emissions cut by 2020, tougher than the 17 percent cut the House bill that narrowly passed in late June called for, and a greater than 80 percent cut by 2050.