Send In The Clown

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Beyond the oil and gas lobby and conservative media outlets, such as The Oklahoman, there hasn’t been a lot of support for the development that Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is in line to become the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

In fact, the rhetorical response mostly resembles a doomsday movie. Who or what will save us now? President Barack Obama’s veto pen? How much damage can Inhofe do?

Now comes news from an article in The New York Times that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Inhofe’s fellow state Republican, has worked closely with Devon Energy here to criticize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approach to regulating air pollution from natural gas wells.

Let’s deal with Inhofe first. Inhofe, of course, believes that global warming is a grand and elaborate hoax developed by leading climate scientists throughout the world and refutes the idea that manmade carbon emissions are taking the planet to the edge of a great crisis. He’s in line to become chair of the EPW Committee because Republicans will control the Senate starting next year, and he’s the committee’s ranking GOP member.

He’s written the absurd treatise, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Threatens Your Future and has shown up at a climate conference in order to harass its attendees and argue that Hollywood elites are behind the hoax. Inhofe has argued the issue on Biblical terms as well, quoting scripture that he contends shows clearly that only God could impact the climate on a large scale.

In short, Inhofe uses conservative babble and the old GOP tropes, but it’s definitely not rooted in science, which contends the earth is getting warmer, and it’s going to wreak havoc on the planet unless it can be reversed or at least slowed down.

Then there's Barbra Streisand. Yes, that Barbra Streisand.

A recent post by David Corn that appeared on Mother Jones and Huffington Post brings up an encounter the writer had with Inhofe at a 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen. When Corn pressed Inhofe on naming some of the Hollywood elites in cahoots with world scientists in this fictional grand worldwide scam, the Senator named none other than Barbra Streisand, the famous singer and actor.

After Corn’s piece was recently published, Streisand issued this statement:

This would be hilarious if it weren't so frightening. I thank Senator Inhofe for singling me out as a voice against the perils of climate change! But I'm just a small part of millions of voices, who are informed and alarmed, including 97% of all climate scientists! God help us! This man is going to head the Committee on the Environment in the United States Senate. It’s like giving a fox the keys to the chicken coop.

This, then, is the rhetorical “climate” surrounding the 80-year-old Inhofe as he prepares his strategy to fight for the interests of the fossil-fuel industry at the cost of the planet. It’s only going to get worse, and Oklahoma’s image, in particular, will suffer in the process.

Inhofe has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his career, according to That type of money buys a lot of hot air.

In a somewhat related matter, The Times published a piece last weekend revealing that Attorney General Pruitt sent to the EPA the basic text of a letter written by Devon officials that argued the EPA is overestimating air pollution from natural gas wells.

The letter shows the cozy relationship Pruitt and some other state attorneys general have with the oil and gas industry, according to The Times, but the other issue here is that carbon emissions contribute to global warming. Pruitt and Inhofe obviously side with the oil and gas companies on doing little to nothing to decrease our carbon footprint.

Back To The Bluster

Image of Jim Inhofe from TPM

Get ready for at least two more years of political blustering and stunts over climate change from Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who is expected to become chair again of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the EPW Committee, has wasted no time getting back into his contentious groove, and, in his new position, he will have no problem getting all the media attention he craves. This week, for example, he lambasted President Barack Obama for signing an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. It was widely reported.

According to Inhofe, the agreement is a “non-binding charade” and vows to fight the White House on new rules governing polluting emissions from power plants in this country. Inhofe is infamous for calling global warming a hoax and a left-wing conspiracy among scientists.

Of course, Inhofe misses the point that the agreement is supposed to be viewed on the world stage as a important symbolic gesture. How we monitor and measure a decline in carbon emissions over the years will always be problematic. What’s important is that there’s a discussion among important world leaders about climate change. For example, the agreement has spurred new discussions among Canadian government officials about curbing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a news report. That’s one of the points of such agreements between countries.

Under the agreement, the United States would reduce its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. China would cap its emissions by 2030 and commit to generating 20 percent of its energy from non fossil fuels sources by 2030.

China and the United States account for 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement is ambitious, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be implemented in good faith. Any reduction in carbon emissions would be good for the planet. Right now, global warming threatens the world’s eco systems, and, in the future, rising sea levels due to climate change could wreak havoc on major coastal cites throughout the world. This could lead to major population migrations and severely depressed economies never experienced before.

It’s no secret that Inhofe will stand in the way of progress on reducing carbon emissions. As I have written before, most media outlets when reporting on Inhofe’s latest rage against Obama or environmentalists or climate scientists fail to note that he has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry in his political career, according to Inhofe is a de facto spokesperson for fossil-fuel profiteers and represents a state that is experiencing a major energy boom because of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The fact that Inhofe’s financial ties to the oil and gas industry often go unmentioned is a testament to how the corporate media has complacently accepted and implicitly endorsed the role of big money in our political process.

I expect a political correction on a national level in the 2016 elections. Starting in 2015, however, Republicans will control the Senate and House for two years, and they are indicating they plan to block and stonewall any White House proposals, even to the point of shutting down the government. Inhofe will be a part of this onslaught when it comes to climate change. It’s apparent already the Republicans will overreach and remind voters of the George W. Bush presidency, which was a debacle of right-wing extremism, but that’s not going to make it any easier to stomach.

A Sad Environment: Inhofe Could Be Back In Charge

Image of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe

One of the most significant fallouts of Tuesday’s election, as I mentioned briefly in my last post, is that Oklahoma’s own U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is expected to become chair again of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Republicans now have control of the Senate, and Inhofe is the ranking GOP member of the EPW Committee.

In short, this is extremely bad news for the planet. Inhofe, who will soon turn 80, has led a crusade through the years trying and failing to dispute scientific evidence that manmade carbon emissions have contributed to global warming. This crusade, which includes constant blithering criticism of the Environmental Protect Agency, has been the centerpiece of his political career. It has made him infamous throughout the world.

Those voters who supported Inhofe here, along with media outlets such as The Oklahoman, are directly responsible for what is or isn’t going to happen next when it comes to climate change. If this country declines to take action to help stop global warming and reduce carbon emissions, the planet’s future is bleak. It could be cataclysmic unless there’s an election correction in 2016.

As you know, Inhofe has called the science explaining climate change and global warming a “hoax.” The title of his 2012 book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, is a blunt, straightforward statement of his position. What Inhofe has done is help create the idea that there’s a raging “debate” about global warming when, in fact, there’s no debate. There’s only basic scientific evidence that the planet is getting warmer, the arctic ice cap is melting and sea levels are rising because of manmade carbon dioxide emissions. We might debate what we should do in light of this evidence, but the science is clear.

Inhofe has received a lot of national press attention after Tuesday’s election because he’s likely to become chair of the EPW Committee, which he led from 2003 to 2008. Here’s an excellent piece in The Washington Post about him.

What much of the recent coverage of Inhofe has failed to note, however, is how much campaign money he has received from the oil and gas industry through the years. Since 1989, Inhofe has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests, according to The media coverage usually notes in some form, of course, that Inhofe comes from a state rich in fossil fuels, but it doesn’t refer directly to the campaign money. Maybe this is because the direct relationship between a politician and the interests of his largest campaign contributors these days is so obvious that it doesn’t even need mentioning. I still think it does.

So let me state the obvious: Inhofe has always done the bidding of large oil and gas companies. As chair of the EPW Committee, he will have even more influence and power to serve their interests.

It’s unclear what exactly Inhofe can do in the next two years because of the potential for White House vetoes, but he is sure to create a lot of noise and engage in political theatrical performances over issues such as global warming and curbing power-plant emissions. He’s also going to support and encourage hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an oil and gas extraction method, which is extremely harmful to the environment and has led to a glut in oil and gas production.

It’s going to be a frustrating two years, or even more, for people concerned about the environment and the overall health of the planet. As the New Republic proclaimed in an online headline about Inhofe, “Congratulations, Voters. You Just Made This Climate Denier the Most Powerful Senator on the Environment.”

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