By William S. Becker
The chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee had a difficult decision last week, and he blew it. Under pressure from other Democrats, Rep. Richard Neal disinvited a former Republican congressman who was going to testify about global climate change.
The former congressman is Carlos Curbelo, who narrowly lost his seat in last year’s midterm election to Democrat Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. While he was in Congress, Curbelo defied GOP orthodoxy to create and co-chair a bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and to be the first Republican in a very long time to introduce a significant climate bill.
So why has Curbelo been invited to stay home? He has not ruled out running for his old seat again in 2020. Party leaders and several of his Democrat colleagues “advised” Neal not to give Curbelo a stage.
I’ll admit that it’s easy for we who don’t worry about facing reelected to make judgments about people who do. And Democrat candidates are more than justified to emphasize the difference between their party and the GOP on climate change. Republicans in general have shilled for the U.S. carbon cartel for years, ridiculing the science, throwing snowballs on the Senate floor, and so on.
Now the American people are beginning to pay a heavy price in lives and property because of obfuscation by Big Oil and its allies in Congress. There is nothing that anyone from either political party can do to keep it from getting worse, but for the next few years there is still a chance that we can keep it from becoming unlivable.
The moral calculus is pretty simple. Anyone who is in a position do something, but who doesn’t – and especially anyone who tries to keep others from doing something – is no better than the carbon cartel and its profiteering from misery. On the other hand, anyone who works to prevent out-of-control climate change is an ally, regardless of his or her political affiliation.
There is at least one obvious reason that bipartisanship is required on this issue. Climate change is a forever threat. America’s response, like that of other nations, must be as unwavering and enduring as our commitment to free speech. We can never again allow progress against climate change to be reversed when the White House or Congress change hands.
What Donald Trump has done to Barack Obama’s modest climate action plan is despicable. Trump’s failure to defend the American people against an impending threat of this magnitude should qualify as an impeachable misdemeanor. Magnifying the threat by encouraging unconstrained production of oil, gas and coal — Trump’s energy policy — gets into “high crimes” territory.
We can be sure the world is watching closely to find out whether democracies are capable of solving big problems. Climate change is only one of them. There is poverty, hunger, discrimination, social injustices, the degradation of species and natural resources, and so on. These things aren’t just happening in the undeveloped world. They are happening here.
As the ancient proverb says, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In regard to climate change, the enemy is procrastination. Whether they are Democrats or Republicans, those who are dedicated to climate action are our friends.