A Bit of Advice on Waxman-Markey: Beware the Lobbyists

  • Published on May 19th, 2009

Money and lobbyists exert undue influence on Waxman-Markey billThis advice doesn’t come from me personally, I am only passing it on from a lead official within the German Emissions Trading Authority, the American counterpart of which is still a gleam in the eyes of Henry Waxman, Ed Markey, and supporters of their proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 now slowly taking shape in Congress.

He made clear that his advice comes from experience, expressing the hope that the Americans, who need to get up to speed quickly, could learn from the German’s first stumbles initiating their own cap and trade program, as was Germany’s first-round of emissions trading (Germany’s first round of trading, the “learning by doing phase”, lasted from 2005 to 2007. The second round of trading, the “stabilization and refinement phase” is in place until 2012.)

The advice? Beware the lobbyists and the excessive pressure they exert on the process.

“Early cap and trade [proposals] receive enormous lobby'” Dr. Enno Harders told our international group of journalists and bloggers earlier this month while visiting the offices of the German Trading Authority. Dr. Harders emphasized the need for legislators to exercise leadership and steel themselves with the political will to “resist the excessive lobby pressure that makes initial cap and trade ineffective.”

The concerns expressed by the more experienced Germans follow closely with the concerns of the “Green Big Guns” outlined yesterday in David Levitan’s excellent post.

And it is a well-placed concern. A recent report in the Guardian shows a 50% increase in lobbying efforts from the oil, gas, and coal in the first three months of this year, spending up to $45 million to pressure lawmakers to shut down support for president Obama’s efforts to enact clean energy and climate legislation. “The pressure is enourmous,” says environmental reporter Suzanne Goldenberg, from an advertising barage to money funneled into the coffers of key legislatures, the heat, as it were, is on.

Though Goldenberg reports that supporters of the Waxman-Markey bill are spending more money than ever before to counter this pressure, it is but a “drop in the bucket” in comparison with the resources available to the mamoth fossil energy industry.

The whole world is watching the process unfold and fear that America will fail once again to take a leadership role in building a new, low carbon energy economy.

And so it comes down to the pleas from expert observers like Dr. Harders for legislators to exhibit, perhaps as never before, political will – and do it in the face of enormous pressure to continue with the short-sighted, vested interest for business as usual. For some at the risk of their own political career. Sometimes that’s what it takes to do the right thing.

We need heroes in Congress.

Photo credit: iStockPhoto

About the Author

is an online publisher, editor, and freelance writer. He is the founder of GlobalWarmingisReal.com and the History Blog Project, as well as publisher and site director for the HippieMagazine.com. Tom also contributes to numerous environmental blogs, including TriplePundit, Ecopolitology, Sustainablog, and Planetsave.   Tom's work has led him to Europe, Africa, Latin America, Canada, the South Pacific, and across the United States. His home base is San Francisco, California.
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  • Thanks for the comments.

    I appreciate your desire to have science prevail over politics. Unfortunately when I read your source from energyplanusa I really felt that the report didn’t, to use their own words, “pass the smell test” either. It seems to me this report and it’s assertions are not based in any fundamental understanding of science in general or climate science in particular – no matter what you think of the IPCC report.

    It includes the same litany of “skeptic” arguments that have been bandied about for years such as “what about water vapor?” What about it?

    Nowhere have I seen any scientific assessment of climate change ignore, dismiss, or try to hide the fact that water vapor is the most prominent (by far) naturally occurring greenhouse gas. It cycles through the atmosphere in hours or days. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for years and decades.

    There is also no denial that there are, and always have been, natural climate cycles. However, to fail to consider the one difference this time around, modern human civilization, is to ignore the millions of years worth of carbon burned into the atmosphere in barely two centuries. At best it is a grand experiment on the atmosphere of which some, such as your source here, are alarmingly cavalier.

    The whole “why can’t meteorologists predict the weather past a few days” statement is a real red herring. Climate is not weather, and meteorologists are not doing climate science.

    The IPCC is indeed the basis for Kyoto and UN negotiations for what happens after Kyoto. But it is hardly the only science or scientific institution weighing in on this issue.

    This US-based “non-political scientific commission” is a fine thing I suppose, but it has been done – it is being done every day. The facts have been reviewed, are being reviewed. The fact that many of the projections from the ’07 IPCC report have indeed been wrong, as in too conservative, should give one pause.

    The thing is – and this can be true on both sides of the issue – that some people will always hang the “political bias” tag around whatever it is they don’t want to hear – this seems glaringly obvious to me in the work cited from energyplanusa. Are you sure they don’t have an agenda? It sounded to me as one of the most biased papers I’ve read in awhile.

    I appreciate that you are a democrat. But that shouldn’t make any difference.

  • Good points about the energy lobbyists. But before we increase the cost of energy for Americans with cap-and-trade and also enrich a new class of financial traders, I believe it's imperative that the United States establishes a non-political, scientific commission to review all facts and evidence surrounding global warming. Currently, we are relying upon a political organization, the United Nations, for their assessment of global warming. This is not good for America. The stakes are too huge.

    I am a Democrat. For the past 20 years I believed global warming was caused by CO2. Now I'm not so sure, after taking an objective look at the wellspring of man-made global warming theory, the United Nations' Climate Change 2007 report. Whereas the report should have considered all possible global warming culprits then narrow the field, it instead removed from consideration the possibility that natural forces might drive global warming. It is little wonder that the report pinned the blame on CO2 when in their own words (p. 95), "The topics have been chosen for…assessing…risks of human-induced climate change." The fix was in. It was politics not science. The mission statement should have read, "Topics have been chosen for assessing risks of human-induced or NATURE INDUCED climate change." Remember, the UN developed in Kyoto Protocol. They have a vested in demonizing CO2. For further discussion of the report see