Stark breaks from the pack on climate change bill

The House this afternoon passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act — the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill — on a 219-212 vote; the bill now heads to the U.S. Senate. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was the only Bay Area member to oppose the bill, complaining it’s too watered down.

“We have the opportunity and the responsibility to confront catastrophic global warming with bold action. Congress should seize that opportunity by passing legislation that would end our addiction to fossil fuels, prove our leadership to the world, and build a foundation for long-term prosperity. This legislation falls short of these goals,” Stark — who in January introduced the Save Our Climate Act, which would impose a tax on carbon-based fossil fuels to slow climate change — said in his floor statement today. “Many have said that this vote is a historic one that we will be judged by. In my view, history will judge this legislation as a missed opportunity.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is a House Energy and Commerce Committee member who authored four of the bill’s provisions: to spur development of a more effective electric grid; to encourage electric vehicle use; to fund clean energy job training programs; and to promote water efficiency and reduce energy consumption by codifying the WaterSense program, which promotes voluntary labeling of water-efficient products and services. He was proud as a papa Friday.

“With the passage of this legislation we are one step closer to revitalizing our nation’s economy and cutting our dependence on foreign oil,” he said in a news release. “I am proud to support this groundbreaking bill that will benefit generations of Americans and lay the foundation for our country’s long-term economic prosperity.”

McNerney said he spent more than two decades working on clean energy technology before going to Congress, and this bill will help ensure that clean-energy jobs will stay in America. The bill also is “crucial to our national security,” he said. “For too long, we’ve been dependent on energy from foreign and sometimes hostile countries. When we’re developing new energy technologies here at home, we’ll be safer for it. We’ll also ensure cleaner, healthier air for our children and grandchildren by leading the world in addressing the threat of climate change.”

More reactions to the vote, after the jump…

From Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Today’s vote represents a monumental step forward in our effort to build a vibrant and green economy based on clean energy, less foreign oil, and a reduction in greenhouse gases. Californians have led the nation in breaking our dependence on fossil fuels and have always known that the future belongs to clean energy technology jobs. It is long past time for us to stop sending our national treasure to pay for foreign oil. This bill gives us the opportunity to follow California’s lead and move America in a new energy direction.

“The provisions in this bill will drive energy costs down for consumers and families in the long run and will create millions of clean energy jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. And, in a very important step, under our bill American workers will be able to take advantage of opportunities that will help them transition into the new sustainable careers of the future.”

From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“The nation is ready for us to act and today we will fulfill our duty and responsibility to our country by addressing our reliance on fossil fuels and how it jeopardizes our national security and our planet. The bill will move the U.S. into a global leadership position and create a new sector to our national economy … a clean energy sector … creating new jobs and new growth for American workers. It will spur new sources of energy – solar, wind, and geothermal – and it will spur new energy savings through new energy efficiency standards.

“Through the American Clean Energy and Security Act, there will be an investment of $190 billion in new clean energy technologies and energy efficiencies, creating jobs, and spurring on new industries. In my home district of Silicon Valley, dozens of innovative companies at the cutting edge of clean energy technology are poised to create a thriving green industry providing healthy, sustainable economic growth in our region. These companies are looking to the future and see the opportunities that will be created by passing this bill.”

From Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“Fighting climate change is the number one environmental challenge facing this generation, and the only way to realize real reductions in our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions is through a firm cap. California has led the nation and the world in developing market-oriented programs to achieve our environmental goals while boosting jobs and protecting consumers, and our efforts have laid the groundwork for a national climate change program like the one voted on today.

“Although this bill is not perfect, it is a significant step in the national fight against climate change and it puts the United States in a position of leadership in international climate negotiations that must produce a global solution to this global problem. My Administration will work with the Senate and President Obama to improve and strengthen this legislation so that it achieves its goals while boosting economic growth and I commend the House of Representatives for taking this historic step today.”

From Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma:

“As a mother and grandmother, the health of our earth is at the top of my list of concerns so that my kids and grandkids aren’t left with the messes we’ve created. For too long, we have ignored the warning signs that human activity is having a negative impact on our environment. It’s up to us to change our ways, use our brains, and stop our bad behavior.

“The facts are clear. The time for debate on whether or not global climate changes exists is over. What we need to do now, is address the problem before it’s too late. We need to listen to the world scientific community, and act immediately to curb our carbon emissions. That’s why I support H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

“The single most important part of this bill is that it puts in place the federal structure to, for the first time, seriously regulate carbon emissions that are adversely affecting our climate. And with proper oversight and science – with the right people in charge – this bill will do what we.

“Now, it’s never easy to change the status quo. There’s a lot of money out there for people who would continue the practices that we know are harmful to all of us. And we all know how that money can be used to muddy the issues and derail the will of the people.

“The plain fact of the matter is this: Without this bill, without a strict regime for controlling carbon emissions, big oil and big coal win. And the environment, endangered species, our kids, our grandkids, you, and I will be the losers.

“Now, people point to China and India, and all the carbon they emit as a big problem too, and they’re right. But the United States leads the world in carbon emissions and, as the world leader, it’s our responsibility to lead the world in a new direction. The burden falls on America to set the tone. By instituting a cap and trade system, we are showing the rest of the world that we’re serious about addressing the issue, and proving to them that it can be done.

“I’m not willing to risk our future by doing nothing. I urge my colleagues to support this bill, take a stand, and lead the world in addressing the issue of global climate change.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Ol’ Pete would rather be right than floor leader or speaker. I nominate him for Bay Area’s Least Effective Member of Congress Despite 200 Years in Office.

  • Elwood

    Is it only 200?

    I guess it just seems like more.

  • JG27+AD

    This will do for todays economy what Smoot-Hawley did for the economy of the 1930’s.

    These knumbskulls are even trying to convince people that CO2, which we all exhale, is a pollutant.


  • Ralph Hoffmann, Guest Columnist

    Pete Stark simply broke from the pack because his vote wasn’t needed. This was actually a Homeland Security Bill, making the USA independent of foreign fossil fuels by 2020. I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Jackson was actually killed on orders of the CIA to distract the media from this historic vote. God bless the USA.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Ol’ Pete is unhappy because his own “leadership” on energy issues has been ignored by most of his colleagues. M. Hoffmann is right; Pete’s vote wasn’t needed. Nor are most of his ideas.

  • Elwood

    Good ol’ Pete! Stark raving nuts to the bitter end!

  • JG27+AD

    Keep in mind that none of the above pictured servants of the people even read the legislation on which they (except the Governor) voted.

    Why are they smiling?


  • justice

    my question is when is this atrocity going to really stop apparently the governor doesn’t care because the torment continues.why doesn’t the governor stop this violation once and for all? is almost seven years of this violation long enough? the local goverment of corona apparently doesn’t think so because they are allowing it to continued what are they hoping to achieved?

  • Fremont Res.

    Pete Stark is an awful representative.

    I don’t agree with his politics, but his goofy behavior and dumb positions have cost us strong representation for a long time now. His own party barely recognizes him.

    Between his racist and homophobic outbursts and his blatant and despicable tax dodge (Connecticut is a little known enclave of Fremont, hidden inside of Newark, don’t you know?), he should have faced judgment at the hands of the voters at the ballot box ages ago.

    But that’s the problem, isn’t it. We keep sending him back. I suspect a cardboard cutout would get elected if it had a ‘D’ behind its name.

  • Arne Simonsen

    This may be the first time that Pete Stark and I have ever agreed upon something! Has Hell frozen over?

  • Josh Richman

    Have no fear, Arne – you and he simply happened to disagree in the same direction. 😉

  • Arne Simonsen

    John, after reading your follow-up blog about the manufacturers association commending Pete Stark for his ‘no’ vote; and then reading why Pete voted ‘no’ and his new bill, it must have been a momentary Black Hole where, as you say, we both disagreed for different reasons! Kind of like how many unions opposed the May 19th propositions, but for different reasons than the rest of us who are fed up with higher taxes and fee. 🙂