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House GOP on Clean Energy: Lights, Camera, Inaction!

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It would truly take a production worthy of Broadway to convince the public that what we heard from House conservatives (and Newt Gingrich) last week was anything but a re-tread of the failed Dick Cheney/drill, baby, drill energy non-solutions they've been pushing for at least a decade now. So it's not at all surprising that the House GOP's "American Energy Solutions Group" would turn to theatrics in order to distract people from the complete and total suckitude of their proposals, which amount to little more than today's Big Oil, Big Coal-driven dirty energy status quo.

The latest act in this long-running saga began last Friday when Representative Joe Barton (R-Big Oil), best known for his performance in last week's House hearings during which he argued about the Continental Drift Theory with a Nobel Laureate and said Americans would only buy hybrids when forced to by the government, "backed by the army," demanded another day of hearings to listen to those opposed to the clean energy jobs plan proposed by Representatives Waxman and Markey. This came despite the committee's minority side being granted time for all the witnesses they requested--including the last minute addition of Newt King Coal--during the Energy & Commerce Committee's marathon 4-day series of hearing last week. Waxman and Markey magnanimously agreed to schedule an additional hearing for minority witnesses for today, but then earlier this week Barton canceled it in a huff.

(Barton, a disgruntled Longhorn fan, was apparently not too busy to hold a hearing today on what he termed the "communist" Bowl Championship Series and his plans to smite it down with a playoff system. It's probably fair to say that playoffs for college football likely represent the beginning and end of agreement between Barton and President Obama.)

Having foregone the opportunity for real, official Congressional hearing, Barton and some of his conservative colleagues--including the most famous of all of Minnesota's loons, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Rep. John 'clean energy legislation is worse than 9/11 and both wars' Shimkus--instead announced they'd be holding what Politico dubbed a "mock climate hearing." An apt descriptor on many levels, it would seem.

(This immediately reminded me of when Senator James Inhofe used to chair the Senate Environment Committee and he'd bring up the late science fiction writer Michael Crichton to testify about the science of global warming.)

This traveling circus (a Heartland tour is supposedly in the works) gets underway next Tuesday. In addition to the usual set of dirty energy defenders, do-nothing denialists, and Big Oil besties, the proceedings will include conservatives' latest and greatest star: Dr. Gabriel Calzada Alvarez. Alvarez, who has ties to ExxonMobil and other groups at the center of the climate denial machine, is the author of a widely-discredited "study" that says green jobs actually just destroy other jobs and are generally a bad investment. Conservatives have been touting it left, right, and center (well, mostly right), despite even the Wall Street Journal noting that it was quite light on actual data. You know, that stuff that is the basis for most studies. Not that these folks ever let the facts get in the way.

Speaking of which, another group of Big Oil besties, the so-called American Energy Alliance, is out with radio ads targeting members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The ads, just one more element of a broad scare campaign being run by polluters in order to derail the clean energy plan, repeat the thoroughly discredited allegation that an MIT study concludes that the Waxman-Markey clean energy plan will somehow result in a national energy tax of $3,100 per household. The actual author of this study has loudly protested this gross mischaracterization of his work, including in a letter to GOP Leader John Boehner himself, and did so again this week in the context of these ads.

It only seems fitting that this circus will be held in the Capitol Visitors Center, which showcases just what the conservatives' failed dirty energy policies should be: history.