Clean Energy Advances Despite Washington’s Worst Efforts

Tea Party leaders like to paint clean energy and climate action as issues that matter only to elite Democrats living in coastal cities. This claim would come as a surprise to the 38,000 autoworkers building fuel efficient cars in Michigan, the 80 companies involved in the wind supply chain in Iowa, and the more than 100,000 Americans working in the solar industry across the nation.

But even if the Tea Party isn’t interested in genuine opportunities for job growth, it can’t ignore where the latest climate action is coming from: Texas and GOP statesmen.

Both are wellsprings of conservative values, and when Texas residents and Republican elders start talking about clean energy and global warming, it’s time for moderate lawmakers to listen.

As of October 1st, Austin, Texas became the largest city in the nation to rely entirely on renewable energy to power all of its facilities. The city of Houston still purchases a larger amount of renewable energy, but Austin leads the way in meeting all of its energy needs from clean sources. City officials said they pushed for these changes because they wanted to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality for residents.

Governor Perry may still live in Denialville, but the rest of Texas has joined the global community. The state is converting its West Texas wind into power and money, and it now gets 8 percent of electricity from renewable sources. As Van Jones says: that’s not hippy energy, that’s cowboy energy. And it reflects rangeland values of independence, resourcefulness, and putting a resource to use instead of wasting it.

A growing number of luminaries in the Republican Party share those values. Earlier this week, the National Journal reported on a quiet campaign among elder GOP statesmen to call for climate action.

John Warner, the former Virginia senator and former Secretary of the Navy, is a senior advisor for the Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate Change and he has been speaking at military bases to draw attention to the security threat posed by climate change and oil dependence.

George Shultz, President Reagan’s Secretary of State and an advisor on President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, is also a member of Pew’s climate project. Shultz says Republicans can no longer ignore evidence coming from places like the ice cap in the Arctic. He says people like climate deniers like Perry are “entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

Shultz wields a considerable amount of influence. Last year, when Texas oil companies funded California’s Proposition 23 to defeat the state’s global warming law, Shultz told the National Journal his response was: “We’re not just going to beat these guys, we’re going to beat the hell out of them. We conducted a vigorous campaign. It was a lot of fun.”

And it was wildly successful. Californians defeated Prop 23 by a ratio of 2 to 1. More people voted on Prop 23 than on anything else on the ballot, including the gubernatorial and Senate races, and even counties that backed Republican candidates shot down Prop 23.

Men like Shultz and Warner—along with Former Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC), Former Representative Sherry Boehlert (R-NY), and others—share the goal of making our nation strong, secure, and independent. They know the politicization of environmental issues is a recent phenomenon, and they are not afraid to say fighting climate change should be part of the Republican platform.

I admire these leaders; I only wish their campaign wasn’t so quiet. I want to see them on Meet the Press and Face the Nation. If they make their voices louder, they will help create the political space for Republican candidates to start confirming climate science and advocating climate action.

Right now, the Tea Party has the megaphone. People like Rick Perry are yelling that climate change doesn’t exist and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is shouting that Congress must dismantle the Clean Air Act and rob the EPA of its authority to set limits on carbon pollution. This would upend a law signed by President Nixon signed and strengthened by President George H.W. Bush. It would also endanger the health of millions of Americans.

This overheated rhetoric is pushing our nation into a more disrupted and more dangerous climate. We have to bring it back from the brink. I remember back in the 1980s, my mom watched infomercials in which Susan Powter would shout: Stop the Insanity.

Cities like Austin, Texas, and leaders like George Shultz and John Warner are adding much needed sanity to the climate debate. They remind us that protecting our nation from climate change and putting Americans to work in the clean energy sector are not elite, partisan issues. They are the building blocks of the 21st century.

VA-Sen: Warner Won't Rule Out Voting For Warner

Senator John Warner (R-VA) hosted a "Why Barack Obama and Joe Biden Are Wrong for Virginia" conference call for reporters today and responded to a question about the Virginia Senate race.

From The Politico:

"I'm watching that race, following the positions of the two candidates," John Warner told reporters on a conference call Saturday. "There have been occasions when I have supported Democratic candidates. ... But I'm not there yet." [...]

When a reporter on the call said to Warner, "So it sounds like you're open to voting for a Democrat in the Senate race, even when you're supporting Mr. McCain?"

Warner replied: "I told you very carefully: I'm watching that race, following the positions of the two candidates. I just commented: I have differing opinions in what Gilmore expressed on the rescue package. But that did not in any way indicate a lifelong support of Republican candidates in this state. There have been occasions when I have supported Democratic candidates -- you know that well. But I'm not there yet."

Not that his vote could swing the election one way or the other, of course; this one's been a done deal for months. But think about it -- this is the vote for the man who will replace him in the Senate. John Warner doesn't trust his own party to represent him in his stead -- that's very telling about the moment we find ourselves in right now.

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Tell McCain To Step Up on G.I. Bill

Welcome, General Clark - Todd

Robert Lopez served 8 years in our military, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a tank commander. He was told he'd get his whole education bill paid for when he got out of the service. Mr. Lopez has fought and sacrificed for our country but like so many others, Mr. Lopez has faced the bleak reality of a government that has turned its back on its veterans.

That is why Senators Jim Webb and Chuck Hagel proposed a new GI Bill, which would bring back WWII-style standards of providing vets with full tuition, room and board. And that is why 51 senators have signed on, including 9 Republicans like John Warner, giving this GI Bill tremendous bi-partisan support.

But it isn't enough. Faced with unprecedented filibusters, the only way to ensure Senate passage of the GI Bill is to get 60 cosponsors. So far, John McCain has refused. The same McCain who insists he supports our troops. The same McCain who is voting lockstep with the Bush administration (who have also resisted this bill). We need to get John McCain to do the right thing. We need him to sign now and signal to other Republican leaders that we should be strongly behind our vets.

The original GI Bill transformed American history, providing education for returning soldiers. Not only was this our nation's moral duty for the unbelievable sacrifices of our World War II veterans, it helped create America's middle class and spurred decades of economic growth for our country.

That's why, today, we're launching this new web video with an accompanying petition, urging Senator McCain to step up and be a leader for veterans, by signing onto the GI Bill.

The burden of ensuring that our veterans get the education they were promised and earned largely sits on his shoulders. If he won't stand up for the troops, he must explain why.

Vote Vets, WesPAC and Brave New Films feel passionately about giving our veterans the support they rightly deserve. Our government owes our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan the opportunity to receive full educational benefits. These patriots have fought hard for our government; it's time our government started fighting hard for them.

Sign the petition to McCain here.

- Wes Clark, Jon Soltz and Robert Greenwald

Update [2008-4-3 18:25:19 by Todd Beeton]:Watch the video below:

VA-Sen: John Warner To Retire

Raising Kaine is reporting Sen. John Warner just announced he intends to retire at the end of this term. You can watch his press conference HERE.

Jim Webb will hold a press conference following Warner's.

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VA-Sen: John Warner Retires

More as we have it...

Update [2007-8-31 14:16:0 by Todd Beeton]: You can watch his press conference HERE.

Jim Webb will hold a press conference following Warner's.

Update [2007-8-31 14:33:42 by Jonathan Singer]: Warner declines to make an endorsement, but perhaps suggests that he'd like to see Tom Davis to run, saying that he'd like to see someone with experience, someone like a Congressman, to run. (Perhaps I'm reading too much into that answer, but perhaps not...)

Update [2007-8-31 15:25:41 by Jonathan Singer]: I think Marc Ambinder's reading is right:

Ex-Gov. Mark Warner, a once-upon-a-time presidential candidate, is probably going to run for the Democratic nomination. He is extremely popular; he will be heavily favored to win; his race will draw upon the same grassroots energies that excited the Democratic base in 2006. Having Warner on the ballot will help the Democratic presidential nominee in Virginia.

The problems for the GOP don't end there, however. It's clear that John Warner's retirement represents a disaster for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which simply cannot afford an open seat race in an expensive state that at least some signs indicate is trending blue (even if it is still a slightly red hue of purple).

But it goes beyond that, as well. The National Republican Congressional Committee is already going to be on the defense in Virginia's second congressional district, where Republican Congresswoman Virginia Thelma Drake only scraped by last year with 51 percent of the vote. The likelihood that Congressman Tom Davis of the 11th district, a northern Virginia district that is extremely expensive to advertise in and only leans about a point towards the Republican, will opt to make a run for the Republican senatorial nomination this year, thus leaving his seat open, only makes it that much tougher for the NRCC.

In short, regardless of how much of a headache John Warner has been for the GOP over the years, his retirement could not have come at a worse time for the Republicans, whose chances of retaking the House and the Senate, and potentially even retaining control over the White House, have been diminished as a result of today's announcement.

Update [2007-8-31 16:12:1 by Jonathan Singer]: Tom Davis is apparently intent on running a campaign about nothing.

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