Planet Gore

The Public Backlash Against the Obama Energy Tax

Senator Inhofe sent this release around:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James Inhofe ( R-Okla. ), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today commented on the announcement that Senate Democrats will push back their timeline on climate legislation.
“A firestorm of opposition arose from across the country this week as Democrats kicked-off debate on global warming legislation,” Senator Inhofe said. “There is no question that the American public flatly rejected the House ramming through legislation that would have devastating impacts on American consumers. And, as EPA Administrator Jackson admitted this week, cap-and-trade without China and India will do nothing to affect climate-it will, however, ship jobs to China and India, which this week unequivocally rejected carbon controls on their economies.”
“So with this delay, the public should expect more arm-twisting and backroom deals – or, in other words, more business as usual in Washington. The American public can rest assured that I will be here, as I have done over the past 10 years, to expose the details of this devastating bill every step of the way.”

So, how should the environmental movement respond to this backlash?  I’m not sure calling those who question it stupid is the best tactic. From the enviro site Grist:

During my travels to the Rothbury Music Festival, I ended up in a cab in Grand Rapids, Mich., with a very cranky driver who wanted to talk . . . about cap-and-trade . . . at midnight, after I’d had a long day of traveling.

He began with the standard, “Where to?” But then, skipping all manner of weather-related small talk, he said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “So what do you think about that whole cap-and-trade thing they’re debating?”

“Oh, well, it just passed in the House!” I said cheerfully.

“Yeah, I know. And I’m about to call up my representatives and ask them what the hell happened. They’re supposed to be representin’ me! And I sure as hell can’t pay for this cap-and-trade nonsense. I’m losing money as it is.”

To this guy — living in a state that’s been hit especially hard by the tanking economy, where the unemployment rate is about 14 percent — cap-and-trade sounds like a bum deal. He drives a cab for a living, and he sees this new legislation as a threat to that living. Maybe he thinks he’ll have to buy a new, more fuel-efficient cab or pay for the “privilege” to pollute. Maybe he believes the debunked but persistent right-wing talking points claiming that cap-and-trade would cost every American household $3,128 a year. Maybe he doesn’t believe climate change is happening. Or maybe he doesn’t quite understand how all this will affect him and the prospect of change is frightening.

I’ve actually found the opposite and that cab drivers understand this better than most. From something I wrote in July:

I actually rode in my first NYC hybrid taxi, a Toyota Highlander, a few days ago. This particular driver was the owner of the taxi, which means to non-New Yorkers that the cab was far cleaner and better maintained than a taxi which is leased out on a daily basis. This driver/owner knew his fuel usage to the penny. He said when he first took delivery of the cab, he was getting about 26 m.p.g.  About a year later, this number had dropped to 18 m.p.g.  He went on to say the battery is under warranty for 100,000 miles, but, even if he could put in a claim, there just aren’t any extra batteries out there. He’s also furious that he went out and bought a hybrid before the law kicked in. He didn’t quote me a figure, but he said he paid “much more” for the hybrid instead of a Ford Crown Victoria and there’s no way he’d ever make up the difference in price now that the Toyota’s gas mileage had decreased. This driver also said he would regularly get 18 m.p.g. on the Ford, not the 14 m.p.g. quoted by the A.P.

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