The Push for Lame-Duck Global Warming Tax
A report last week in Energy and Environment Daily (subscription required) caught my eye. Titled “Work on climate change happening outside public eye”, it addressed hush-hush plotting by big business and left-wing pressure groups to adopt the “global warming” agenda.
Ah, memories of the late 1990s, when I attended identical meetings, plotting with green activists (from the very same green groups, like Union of Concerned Scientists), but held at fancy Washington digs of a prestigious New York law firm.
Both were Spring/Summer affairs aiming at a December coup. More on that, momentarily. But as I note inthis upcoming expose’, those meetings began a fifteen year (and counting) love affair with exposing these tricks.
Activists cited in this week’s story assured us that the meetings had to be secret because “organizers are afraid that if they receive broader attention, participants will face pressure from right-leaning opponents of action on climate change.”
The story leaned heavily on that partisan line. But the most recent polling reaffirms that “global warming” is still valiantly holding on in its fight to remain politically dead. So it does seem that, by “right-leaning opponents”, the various schemers mean “the general public.” Numerous Democrat congressmen who voted for cap-and-trade and then were defeated were apparently unavailable for comment. But, anyway. This story came on the heels of various reports of another effort, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) if, according to a leaked agenda, organized and run by left-wing pressure groups.
AEI spun their effort as just some economists; it wasn’t. “Economists” was one of six breakout sessions, with others including “Progressive/Social justice groups”, one on messaging, and another on targeting Romney and Republicans.
AEI spun this as just a meeting, a chance to kick ethereal thoughts around. The agenda said it was their fifth meeting. Instead of dealing in airy hypotheticals, the document’s headline pre-butted such spin, flatly blaring: “Lame Duck Initiative: A Carbon Pollution Tax in Fiscal and Tax Reform”. Conservatives pushing a carbon tax in the lame-duck, post-election congressional session. I’d keep mum about that, too.
You may remember the carbon tax: it was what the environmentalist lobby wanted in the 1990s only to be told it was impossible, prompting the Rube Goldberg “cap-and-trade” scheme. That failed, and the “other way to skin the cat”, regulations poised to destroy our economy (remember, even cap-n-trade was deemed preferable) threatens to prove the death of their movement and its host organism, a liberal Democrat Party.
Ah, but then along came some Republicans indicated a willingness to sell this idea as theirs. So nice to be rescued.
So, speaking of the 1990s, in May 1997 I sat, gobsmacked, in a meeting identical to AEI’s and those E&E Daily just reported. This was in the first week of what would prove to be an approximately three-week run as director of federal government affairs for Enron. That was before the company’s meltdown ensuring it would be tied out of journalistic-slash-political convenience, to President George W. Bush.
Back then it was just the Clinton-Gore administration’s favorite energy lobby, with a cozy relationship and offices right across the street from the White House. True, they soon persuaded Texas’s Governor Bush to prop up their windmill business. But, also, the Clinton-Gore administration to agree to the Kyoto Protocol.
You see, Enron had just bought the then-world’s largest windmill company, Zond. Which became Enron Wind. Which became GE Wind. Which participated in the recent meetings reported by E&E Daily.
The names may have changed, but the game is precisely the same, which is the world’s second-oldest profession, “rent-seeking” by industry seeking to make its fortune the old fashioned way. Through favors from buddies in government able to to rob you, Peter, to pay the politically savvy Pauls.
In that meeting, again just one in an identical series, I sat around the table with UCS, BP, a utility or two, the American Gas Association and others, scratching our heads over how to make sure the “global warming” treaty expected to be agreed in Kyoto that December would include the U.S.
Actually, I scratched my head over what business was doing sitting around the table with people who wanted to put them out of business. Which I asked one of the aforementioned’ entities’ representatives, who sheepishly said something to the effect that, well, sure, but they want to put coal out of business first.
Green groups then were far less able to dictate policy to the Clinton-Gore administration than today’s crowd steers the Keystone XL-blocking, “bankrupt” and “no coal plants here in America”-vowing Obama administration.
So that’s where business came in. And, sure enough, Enron’s Ken Lay and BP’s John Browne arranged an August 4, 1997 meeting in the Oval Office with the president and vice president. The pair urged agreement to Kyoto, persuading the administration to ignore the unanimous Senate vote a week before instructing otherwise.
Fifteen years can change a lot. One constant, however, is the lack of wisdom of the liberals’ energy tax. No matter who they get to push it for them.