Senator Lisa Murkowski (R, Unsure) co-authored an opinion piece for the New York Times March 8 in which she claims “we are committed to putting forward bipartisan solutions to help address climate change.” Senator Murkowski claims to recognize that “There is no question that climate change is real or that human activities are driving much of it.”
Senator Murkowski has flopped around on anthropogenic climate change like a gaffed halibut.
But before we all celebrate Lisa Murkowski’s conversion, before we all laud her being struck by that metaphoric lightning on the road to Damascus, you need to understand the essay goes on to talk about how we will innovate our way out of the incipient disaster she has so lately come to recognize. Given that we only have until maybe 2030 to do some serious carbon emission reduction, maybe betting on innovation is imprudent. Maybe we should examine Senator Murkowski’s sudden conversion with a little more care.
According to on-line databases, Lisa Murkowski’s largest contributor to her 2016 election campaign was the oil and gas industry, to the tune of almost $900,000. Electric utilities, the largest single contributor to CO2 emissions, were also in for almost $900,000. Is she really turning her back on all that money?
We know it was Lisa Murkowski who stuck the amendment in Trump’s budget that allowed oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She allowed her vote for the billionaires’ tax break to be purchased in return for the chance of drilling for more oil, leading as sure as anything can be, to still more CO2 emissions. Can we take Murkowski’s belated recognition of climate reality seriously when she was the instigator of another massive CO2 source?1
Senator Murkowski’s essay is remarkably short on specifics. She concludes, “We will work to find responsible solutions worthy of West Virginians, Alaskans and all Americans.” Is “responsible solutions” a dog whistle for “Drill baby, drill”? Or does she mean something more than mystical innovation, like a carbon tax? Because we know the only way to get American’s attention – and for that matter, industry – is through their pocketbooks. The only way to reduce CO2 is to aggressively, immediately get started make it more expensive. Make fossil fuels pay their true cost, not merely the cost of producing them.
All of which is why WC is strongly inclined to doubt Senator Murkowski’s sudden conversion. There is no sense of urgency in her essay, there is not recognition that this is an immediate crisis. She doesn’t want to offend the folks who write those big checks. Because, you know, re-election is more important than the existential threat of climate change.
WC invites Lisa Murkowski to prove him wrong. All the Senator need do is co-sponsor a carbon tax. This year. Or refuse campaign or PAC contributions from sources affiliated with the oil and gas and electric utility industries, effective immediately.
But WC isn’t going to hold his breath.