There is an unusually dimwitted bit of “conventional wisdom” circulating among conservative economic (“That almost certainly means, at least according to the crack political team on the panel with me, that we will not get any sort of cap and trade”) and energy (“Climate change may be on the back burner for now due to the economic slump”) blogs that an Obama administration and its majority Democratic Congress are going to do little or nothing about climate change due to the current/impending economic crisis.
This is ludicrous on its face. President-elect Obama has stated numerous times that his number one priority is implementing a comprehensive alternative energy program as the key to creating a new economy. He understands how the climate, food, health care, energy, economic, and infrastructure challenges plaguing our country and the world are intertwined and need to be addressed holistically.
Senator Henry Waxman from California, who has been relentless in his efforts to root out the Bush administration’s obstructionist tactics in the EPA on climate change, is now challenging Senator Dingell for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce committee. Dingell has long been in the pocket of Detroit’s auto industry, and has a history of blocking legislation that would help reduce climate change. There is only one possible reason for Waxman’s challenge in the midst of what should be a time of Democratic celebration and solidarity- the coming Obama administration correctly views Dingell as an obstacle to its goals on energy and climate change, and Waxman has received at least a tacit go ahead to take him on. [It looks like Joe Romm is following this as well, so far here and here]
For those looking for a sign that an Obama administration is serious about climate change, this couldn’t be clearer. Rather than preventing action on climate and energy, this crisis will provide the Obama administration with a decisive path to action, and he obviously isn’t afraid of playing hardball to achieve his goals.
[LATE UPDATE: Gristmill has more on Waxman vs. Dingell.]