Why Are Mitch McConnell and John Boehner Working Against the Interests of America?

Reasonable people can disagree about the particulars of an energy and climate bill.

Some might say that the bulk of renewable investments should go toward wind and others might say solar. Some can insist that money raised from making polluters pay should go toward investments in more renewables and others can insist that such money should go to offset any costs to tax payers.

What is unreasonable is to posit that we should do nothing at all about our reliance on energy from fossil fuels or catastrophic climate change. What is unreasonable is to lie about the effects of proposed solutions. What is unreasonable is to complain about the ideas offered, but offer no alternatives. What is unreasonable is to act as if doing nothing is good for the American people.

So either certain Republicans are unreasonable, playing politics with energy and security, or they don’t care about what’s good for the American people.

Let’s start with the economy.

If you are against clean energy, you are against economic recovery and American jobs. We simply can’t solve the current economic crisis without addressing energy, climate and security. Oil imports cost us as much as $700 billion a year. Add to that $49.1 billion a year spent protecting our interests in the Persian Gulf (not including the costs of the Iraq war or what we spend in South America) and the 830,000 high paying jobs our oil dependence sends abroad.

In a statement put out by the Majority Staff of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming:

  • According to an analysis using Department of Energy models, increasing renewable energy to 25 percent by 2025 would save Americans nearly $100 billion in electricity costs, stretching across all regions of the country.
  • Increasing energy efficiency nationwide to fifteen percent by 2020 will save American families and businesses nearly $170 billion on electricity bills, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
  • Investing in renewable energy creates more than twice as many jobs per unit of energy and per dollar invested than traditional fossil fuel-based technologies.
  • The U.S. is behind in the renewable energy market. Way behind. 75% of the top renewable energy companies are not located in the U.S. And countries like Japan, China and Korea are kicking our butts on low emissions cars.

    I went to a lecture on solar this week given by an expert from the Rocky Mountain Institute. Most of his slides were about the great innovations in renewables in Germany and Spain, Iceland and Denmark. Addressing energy and climate will make the U.S. globally competitive again and create as many as 7 million American jobs. With wind at just 3% of the U.S. energy mix, these companies already employ more people than coal mining. Senator, Congressman, if you’re against clean energy investments, you’re against U.S. companies and workers.

    How about health?

    If you’re against clean energy and action on climate change, you don’t care about the health of Americans. Our dependence on fossil fuels is literally killing us. Asthma, cancer, heart disease and stroke are all exacerbated by pollution, as are incidences of Parkinsons Disease and Alzheimers. Health impacts from coal alone cost America $167 billion every year.

    And speaking of costs, those against doing something about climate change want to rob you while letting the polluters reap the rewards. Doing nothing will cost the average family at least $2000 to deal with floods, droughts and extreme weather. By now, we all know about record oil company profits. It seems that Senator McConnell and Congressman Boehner would prefer that those companies keep their billions and never pay a dime to clean up the mess they’ve created. Instead, they will use that money for their bonuses and bloated salaries. Or maybe to help cover the almost $500,000 big oil and big coal made in campaign contributions to Senator McConnell in just one election cycle.

    Research from Yale and George Mason Universities says that over 90% of Americans want government action on global climate change, regardless of the economy. In fact, this number includes people that worry about things like rising energy prices, the economy and more government regulation. Senator McConnell and Congressman Boehner, how does it feel to be out of step with more than 90% of Americans?

    There is no doubt that the Senator and the Congressman love their country, as do people that have a knee jerk reaction to be against any legislation that comes from the Democrats or that deals with complex issues like energy and carbon emissions.

    But acting against the interests of the American people is a strange way to show love of country. Reasonable people can disagree on how to move to renewables and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But there is nothing reasonable about Senator McConnell and Congressman Boehner suggesting that we do nothing.

    This month we’re giving away FREE copies of Thomas Friedman’s bestselling book Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America.

    Go here to find out more details about DeSmogBlog’s monthly book give-away.


    The future of the United States depends on new growth coupled with new thinking. Energy related technologies are showing us the path to our future prosperity.

    Market forces are good barometers for econometric models, but at a certain point “we the people” (read: government) have to step in and take control away from market forces and give our future direction the boost that it needs.

    The future of our world, our population’s employment outlook, and our children’s future habitat depend on the courage of our business and political leaders. We must give our present way of life better guidance than just blind market forces. Big question: Isn’t that part of the reason for the big mess we’re in?

    I work in the financial services sector and favor the creation of new energy/environmental technology companies. As we are well into our third century it isn’t a question of business as usual, but one of survival.


    Oil money going to the Middle East funded Bin Laden. The Saudis may have stopped that following BL’s attacks on their homeland.

    But there is a more pernicious use of the money in the long term. The Saudis fund activities throughout the middle east, Pakistan and Afghanistan to encourage the violent and repressive Wasabi sect of Islam. This is making a dent in the culture of countries like Egypt – movies and singers. Faxes of sermons generated by Wasabi imams are sent to every mosque in North America every Friday. Madrasses are funded in Pakistan and Afghanistan, teaching boys who can’t get education otherwise, Arabic, the Koran, and often violent hatred of the West, while not giving useful trade or professional skills. 

    This is not about Islam per se; it is about the danger of the specific sect promoted by the Saudis. Oil money provides them with the influence to remain a national security threat to the U.S. and all nations.


    You make an excellent point. It seems the U.S. is afraid to criticize the Saudis on this out of our utter dependence on their oil, as well as a belief that they are somehow a “moderate” ally in the volatile Middle East.

    One minor quibble is that the narrow sect they keep funding is called “Wahabi” or “Wahhabi”; the similar word “wasabi” is that sharp Japanese garnish used on sushi, somewhat like horseradish. Smile

    Anyway the point is that the Saudis are trying to have it both ways, and we’re at their mercy as long as we keep pumping so many billions of dollars their way.


    I just want to compliment Leslie on a well documented and forcefully argued posting. Great stuff, keep it up!

    The stats on the health costs of coal are staggering. These externalities are not background noise - those figures start to add up to a noticeable percentage of GDP - over $500/pp/yr in coal-driven health costs, or a TRILLION every eight years - wow!

    President Barack Obama and his cash advances are potentially very important because economic recovery, as we all know is very hard to achieve. This cash advance can somehow sustain economic activities of one nation. The good news is that the stimulus does seem to be working.  The Commerce Department recently released its report, one of the features of which is a rise in manufactured goods, a key economic indicator.   A lot of signs point to the stimulus working thus far and a quicker recovery than previously thought, which is good news.  A little debt relief can help the nation with its recovery.