Senator Inhofe was recognized this week by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), for having two of the best websites in Congress. CMF analyzed all 620 congressional websites, including those of all Senate and House Members, committees (both majority and minority sites), and official leadership sites. According to CMF, only six members received awards for both their personal office and committee websites.
"New media provides the opportunity to reach directly out to Oklahoma constituents and the American people and let them know about my work here in Washington," Inhofe stated. "From YouTube to Twitter, from my Senate blogs to podcasts, new media is providing greater access to Washington. Now more than ever, the American public has the opportunity to stay informed and engaged with their elected officials. I am pleased to continue to be recognized as an online leader."
The 111th Congress Gold Mouse Awards are part of CMF's Partnership For A More Perfect Union, which seeks to improve the quality of communication between Members and their constituents. For this project CMF partnered with researchers from the Harvard Kennedy School, Northeastern University, University of California-Riverside, and the Ohio State University to study how Members of Congress can use the Internet to improve communications with their constituents and to promote greater participation in the legislative process.
"One of the key reasons for the awards is to highlight best practices so offices can improve their sites by learning from those already excelling in online communications," said Beverly Bell, CMF's Executive Director. "Websites like Senator Inhofe's serve as a prime example that we hope other congressional offices will follow."
"Senator Inhofe's websites shows that he understands how to meet the needs of his constituents online," said Bell. "The Congressional Management Foundation congratulates Senator Inhofe for having a website that is among the best on Capitol Hill, and we are pleased to present Senator Inhofe two 111th Congress Silver Mouse Awards."
Websites were graded on how well they incorporate five core principles that CMF identified through extensive research as critical for effectiveness: know your audience, provide timely and targeted content that meets their needs, make the site easy to use, foster interaction both on and offline, and add value through innovation.
Using these core principles, an evaluation framework was developed by CMF and their research partners, which would be fair and objective while still taking into account important qualitative factors that affect a visitor's experience on a Web site.
The 111th Congress Gold Mouse Project report, a full listing winners, and other comparative data is available on CMF's Partnership For A More Perfect Union Web site at http://www.pmpu.org/.
Senator Inhofe along with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) Tuesday introduced S. 3230, the NEPA Certainty Act, with several cosponsors including Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Risch (R- ID), Bob Bennett (R-UT), and Pat Roberts (R-KS).
The NEPA Certainty Act ensures that federal agencies implementing the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) won’t engage, or be forced to engage, in costly and ultimately useless determinations about the global warming impacts of individual projects - such as highways and clean energy power plants. It also helps reduce the flood of activist-inspired litigation designed to change NEPA into a global warming prevention statute.
As the Obama Administration admits, it is exceedingly difficult to assess the climate change impacts of individual federal actions, such as permitting new energy production. Such assessments under NEPA would provide no meaningful information for the public; instead, they would encourage more litigation and seemingly endless bureaucratic delays. These legal obstacles can block road construction, domestic energy production, and other similar economic activities. As a result, Americans seeking work will lose significant new job opportunities that could help alleviate the nation’s unemployment crisis.
“The attempt to use NEPA to fight global warming won’t help achieve the purpose of NEPA," Inhofe said. "Requiring federal agencies to assess the global climate change impacts from building a road will only block construction of the road and the jobs and economic activity that go with it, with no discernible impact on global climate. The NEPA Certainty Act will put a stop to this and give employers, including small businesses, greater certainty in their hiring and economic planning.”
Inhofe: Climate's No Better For Bill
By Jeanne Cummings
April 20, 2010
See also: Human Events: Sen. Inhofe Confident Cap-and-Trade National Energy Tax Won't Pass
In fact, Inhofe, a global warming skeptic, says a recent scandal in the scientific community has only emboldened the opposition. When that's combined with the deal making that typically defines such legislative efforts, he says, the scales tip decidedly his way.
"Their strategy was and is flawed because they've tried it before. It's called ‘divide and conquer,'" he said in an interview with POLITICO as part of "The Green Divide," a weeklong video series.
"Here's the problem. You might be able to break down some groups and get them to come over. But when you do that, you lose others."
To illustrate his point, Inhofe points to the protests from Democratic senators of a White House announcement to expand offshore drilling along portions of the Eastern seaboard and elsewhere. Similar enticements for the oil industry and other energy business interests are expected to be included in the Senate climate legislation.
Inhofe conceded that the entry of South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham as a co-sponsor of the bill being drafted with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) could change the dynamics.
"He's a very attractive person. I like Lindsey Graham because we disagree on almost everything, but we are good friends and we laugh about it," Inhofe said.
"He might be able to bring someone, one or two people, in," Inhofe said. "But when you bring them in, you're going to lose five or six on the other side. So we're talking about net votes and ... I don't believe that he's going to be able to increase the net votes."
Inhofe's rise as a leader of the opposition was an evolution, he said.
In the 1990s, when global warming emerged as an international issue, he was inclined to believe there was evidence of it and that human activity was contributing to it.
But when he reviewed the costs to consumers for fixing the problem, he dug deeper into the science and soon aligned with skeptics who dispute the contention that Earth is warming.
In the ensuing years, however, the scientific data mounted and public opinion swung toward an acknowledgement of global warming. Some conservatives - including former President George W. Bush - shifted from denying the phenomenon and the fact that humans are contributing to it to calling for action to combat it.
But Inhofe stood firm, and he believes he was vindicated late last year when e-mails surfaced by some leading climate change scientists that, critics said, offered proof that scientists disputing global warming had been muzzled and its proponents had cooked the temperature books.
Climate change advocates have pushed back, saying that the e-mails did nothing to undermine voluminous research showing the Earth is warming and that humans, through industrial work and lifestyle choices, are adding to it.
Still, investigations were launched to determine how the e-mails were stolen from Britain's University of East Anglia and precisely what the scientists meant to say in their messages.
One highly disputed e-mail, for instance, includes a reference to a computing "trick." Global warming critics seized on it as hard evidence that the science is phony. But global warming advocates say it was merely an innocent - though provocative - word choice that referred only to a decision to switch to a well-established method of analyzing temperature.
While scientists will debate the import of the e-mails, the controversy provides opponents of global warming with a new argument to use against energy reform legislation. As Inhofe sees it, "climategate came, and it was somewhat redemptive."
If the science behind climate change isn't definitive, Inhofe argues, how can Congress impose reforms that could wind up being passed on to consumers by way of higher utility bills? "I started off as a believer until I realized what it was going to cost," he said.
Finally, Inhofe asserts that the energy reform effort will stumble because of the nation's heavy reliance on fossil fuels, which are both the dirtiest and the most abundant domestic sources of fuel.
"There's been a wake-up call in America, and people realize that we have to continue to generate electricity. There may be a day when it can be done all with renewables. I'm for renewables. I'm for geothermal. I'm for everything out there," he said.
"But if you were to do away with fossil fuels, let's say, next year, how would you generate enough electricity to run the machine called America? And the answer is, we couldn't."
Senator James Inhofe yesterday said he would continue to put pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better educate consumers about EPA's "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule," and expedite the process of getting more contractors certified. EPA's rule went into effect today in the face of numerous concerns expressed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
"The EPA has ignored bipartisan concerns about this rule's economic impact on jobs and homeowners, not to mention its health impact on pregnant women and children-and the result is an implementation disaster," Senator Inhofe said. "While everyone agrees with the goal of the rule - to protect children and pregnant women from the harmful effects of lead-paint - the fact is that EPA did a poor job educating the public and contractors about the rule over the past two years. It's clear that there will not be enough certified contractors available for the public. Undoubtedly, this will cause confusion among homeowners. I will be reaching out to contractors in Oklahoma, as well as the Obama Administration, to be sure we are doing everything we can to increase the number of certified contractors to meet the demand for lead-safe home renovations."
On Wednesday April 21, Senator Inhofe contacted Administrator Cass Sunstein, head of the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, asking for a delay in implementation of the rule. Sunstein explained that he understood the economic concerns and discussed possible ways to delay the rule. On the call, Sen. Inhofe and Sunstein discussed a number of concerns raised by Oklahoma contractors. (See Tulsa World Story Here)
"I greatly appreciate Cass listening to the concerns of my Oklahoma constituents," Senator Inhofe said. "He told us he recognized the economic impact of the implementation of the rule and explored ways to provide a sixty-day delay. In the end, we ran out of options. But we certainly appreciate Cass's attention and look forward to working with him and the Administration to help educate the public about this rule."
Paul Kane, executive vice president and CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, who was in the meeting yesterday, thanked Senator Inhofe today for his efforts and said the home builders will be working with Inhofe on getting contractors certified as soon as possible.
"I am grateful to Senator Inhofe for everything he has done in an effort to help bring attention to this important matter," Kane said. "With the rule now in place, he has asked that we work together to find every way possible to help speed up getting contractors certified. I am confident that with more attention on the process, we can ensure Oklahoma increases the number of people teaching the classes in the near term."
Kerry: Gas Tax? What Gas Tax?
By Kate Sheppard
Wed Apr. 21, 2010
Here's a fabulous sneak peek into the climate bill negotiations. Yesterday Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) attempted to squash the idea he and his colleagues have ever contemplated including a gas tax in the climate bill. "There is no gas tax, never was a gas tax, will not be a gas tax, I don't know where that came from, but it is just wrong. Period," he told reporters. "There is not even a linked fee, there is not a tax, there is nothing similar."
Pretty sure the idea came from ... the bill's coauthors. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) discussed the prospect of a carbon fee on transportation fuels with reporters shortly before the April recess. "It's on the table," Lieberman said following a March 25 meeting with industry groups. And Graham explained that the oil industry favored a fuel fee if that would mean the industry wouldn't be included under a hard cap on carbon.
It's not entirely clear if what's going on here is a rhetorical shift (nobody likes the word "tax" of course), or an actual policy change. This could be much like the whole "cap and trade is dead" dance the senators are performing, in which they declare the policy deceased while, in reality, some form of it will likely be included in their bill.
The senators are supposed to release a draft on Monday, but from everything I'm hearing on the Hill, there are still lots of loose ends to be tied up. Of course, the constant shifting has raised concerns about whether Kerry and his colleagues can deliver. As one industry source put it to Climate Wire last week:
"He's literally trying to promise everything to everybody," said one industry source close to the negotiations. "While his enthusiasm is appreciated, there's grave doubts he can hold the promises he makes."
From Inhofe EPW Press
The following articles discuss the proposed "linked fee" in Kerry-Graham-Lieberman:
LA Times: Senators consider gasoline tax as part of climate bill - (04/14/10) Some industry analysts and environmentalists question how much a tax would do to reduce emissions from gasoline, particularly if the extra cost to motorists is measured in cents, not dollars. Proponents call the tax approach under consideration a "linked fee," because it links the extra cost for gasoline to the average cost of greenhouse gas emission permits created through a so-called cap-and-trade system for electric utilities. That system would set a declining limit on emissions from power plants and force utilities to buy permits, on a trading market, to emit heat-trapping gases. Under the linked-fee proposal, gasoline taxes would rise in tandem with the prices of industrial emission permits, or fall if the price of permits declines.
Inside EPA: Senators Seek Oil Industry, Chamber ‘Cease Fire' On Climate/Energy Bill - (04/02/10) The trio is urging API and the Chamber to mute any potential future opposition to the bill with a number of provisions meant to sweeten the pot for the groups. In exchange for the oil industry's neutrality on the bill, for example, sources have previously said the industry would be subject to a so-called "linked fee" for transportation fuels linked to the price of carbon allowances rather than a hard cap on the transportation sector's emissions, sources familiar with the discussion say. The legislation is also expected to include a title on domestic oil and gas exploration, a key priority for the oil and gas industry.
NYT/Greenwire: Senate Climate Bill's Allocation Fight Expected to Go Down to the Wire - (03/26/10) The senators said that each industrial sector -- electric utilities, petroleum refiners, manufacturers -- will face different emission limits and startup dates. As such, the allocation plan for each also will be different. For transportation fuels, the senators said an idea being offered up by BP America, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Co. involves a "linked fee" that would be tied to the carbon market price for the other industrial sectors. "The money we generate comes from the companies. It's an assessment on what they do in the carbon world," Graham said. "They're creating a carbon product, they're going to pay a fee. Some of it will be passed on. Some of it will be absorbed. But the money we collect from them gets passed back to the consumer, which holds them harmless. Bill Gates may not get it, but most people in my state will. And any money not going back to the consumer from this linked fee has to go to do something the country needs, like retire the debt, or I won't support it."
The Hill: Graham: Carbon fees on gasoline won't hurt consumers - (03/26/10) "Some of it will be passed on, some of it will be absorbed, but the money we collect from them gets passed back to the consumer, which holds them harmless," Graham said. "Bill Gates may not get it, but most people in my state will, and any money not going back to the consumer from this linked fee has to go to something that the country needs, like retiring the debt, or I won't support it." "If you don't get it, it is going to help your kids," he added. Their proposal is called a "linked fee." That's because the amount would be tied to the price of emissions allowances in the carbon trading market the bill would establish for utilities and eventually other industrial plants.
Politico: Senators pump gas fee into bill - (03/17/10) They are floating the idea of levying a carbon tax on each gallon of gasoline, which would be passed along to consumers at the pump. The fee would be linked to the market price of carbon emissions bought and traded by utilities and other industries. "A linked fee to me makes sense," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who's working with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to craft a climate bill. Graham stressed that he wasn't sure "how far the idea would go" but that it is already picking up support from oil-state members. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a vocal opponent of earlier climate bills, has said she's "open" to the new proposal. The three senators plan to release the first draft of their revamped climate bill before lawmakers leave for the congressional recess scheduled for the end of the month.
CQ: Outline of Senate Climate Change Bill Includes Sector-Tailored Regulations - (03/17/09) Details of Outline According to people attending Wednesday's meeting, the outline circulated by Kerry, Graham and Lieberman to the industry leaders included: • An economywide cap on carbon emissions that would begin in 2012, with a target of reducing carbon pollution 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050; • A straight fee or tax, paid by consumers at the pump, on transportation fuels. The levy would be linked to the carbon content of the fuel and the price of carbon in the other markets; • A combination for the regulated sectors of a cap-and-trade model, under which polluters could trade pollution permits on an open market, and a "cap and dividend" model, which would return revenue from the sale of permits directly to consumers;
Inhofe EPW News Roundup
"Greenpeace Says No "- "Job is Far From Done" - "Immigration Takes Front Seat"
Politico: Greenpeace says no to energy bill - Offering the first evidence of the complex Senate debate that lies ahead on an energy reform bill, the environmental group Greenpeace said Friday it intends to oppose the legislation that a bipartisan group of Senators intend to introduce next week. "Although we appreciate the Senate's efforts to reduce global warming pollution, it's clear that polluter lobbyists have succeeded in hijacking this climate policy initiative and undermined the ambitious action necessary," Phil Radford, the group's executive director, said in a statement. Among Greenpeace's chief objections are the measure's "inadequate emission" reduction goals, a provision that strips authority from the Environmental Protection Agency, and the billions set aside for the coal and nuclear industries for research and expansion.
E&E News: Groups, companies start lining up -- both for and against -- Senate bill - Call it the worst-kept secret in Washington. Officially, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have yet to issue any notice of their press conference Monday to unveil legislation to cap greenhouse gases and expand domestic oil, gas and nuclear power production. But interests ranging from oil, gas and electric utilities to a major religious organization are confirming they will be in attendance at the 11 a.m. EDT event in the Senate's historic Kennedy Caucus Room, the site of hearings on the sinking of the Titanic, the Teapot Dome scandal, the Vietnam War and Watergate. Kerry yesterday said he expected three big oil companies to be at the press conference. He did not name the companies, though he has been working closely over the past few months with Shell Oil Co., BP America and ConocoPhillips.
E&E News: Senate panel clears budget but nips climate reconciliation - The Senate Budget Committee yesterday hamstrung the chamber's ability to move climate change legislation through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process on its way to passing a budget resolution that also freezes spending for most domestic programs. The panel yesterday approved the fiscal 2011 budget blueprint by a 12-10 vote, with only Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) breaking from his party to vote against the measure. There is no definitive timing for the bill might head to the Senate floor and committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he has not yet spoken to enough lawmakers to know whether there are enough votes to pass the resolution. Even if the budget resolution does clear the chamber, it continues to appear highly unlikely that its reconciliation portion will be used as a vehicle to pass sweeping climate and energy legislation.
CQ: Climate Bill Negotiators Make Headway, but Job Is Far From Done - Still uncertain is whether the bill will win the endorsement of key industries. The Washington Post reported Friday that the Edison Electric Institute, which represents most U.S. electricity production, will endorse the bill, but a spokesman for the group said that assertion was premature, as the members have yet to view legislative text. While the bill is scheduled to be unveiled with great fanfare on Monday morning, people close to the negotiations said there may still be some doubt about whether the bill's authors can complete a full text by then. Some industry sources said the Senate bill's lead author, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry , may have "overclaimed" industry support and the backing of colleagues as of Thursday night. Senators whose support will be needed to move the bill, including the chairs of committees with legislative jurisdiction, also have yet to see text.
Congress Daily: Kerry, Lieberman Confident Transportation Issue Addressed - But both Kerry and Lieberman said after Thursday's meeting they would have an agreement on that sector when they make their announcement Monday. "I don't think it's a problem," Kerry said. "We're very happy with it.""It'll be there, it'll be good," Lieberman said. "There won't be a placeholder."They did not disclose details. "You'll learn on Monday," Kerry said. An energy industry official said Kerry indicated in a conference call with business officials Thursday that the draft would require oil and gas companies to purchase emission credits, presumably as other industrial sectors would be required to do under the plan's cap and trade program. Kerry also indicated that officials from Shell Oil, BP, Conoco Phillips and the Edison Electric Institute will join the senators on stage Monday for the unveiling, according to the industry official.
Wash. Post: EEI, three oil companies to back climate bill; top 10 highlights of Kerry proposal - The nation's largest electric utilities association and three of the country's biggest oil companies will endorse the climate proposal Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) will introduce Monday, Kerry told supporters in a private phone call Thursday evening. The declarations of support show the three senators have made some inroads with the business community in drafting their plan, but have yet to win over traditional opponents of mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Several consumer groups will back the plan as well. Kerry's office declined to comment on the matter
E&E News: Reid says committee leaders will be involved in Senate bill - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will leave it to powerful committee leaders whether they want to mark up the climate and energy legislation that is expected to emerge Monday. "We have five committees with jurisdiction on climate," Reid said today. "They're all going to be part of what we do in moving it to the floor. Some committees will need markups. Some won't. It's up to the committee chairs." Reid's remarks were primarily aimed at Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Agriculture Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), the two panel leaders who have not yet produced any legislation on the climate issue. Both senators have taken a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the bill authored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that is expected to place a cap on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while expanding domestic production of oil, gas and nuclear power.
Bloomberg: Climate Compromise Assembled, Redrawn in Year of Senate Talks - The senators, who said they will outline their proposal publicly on April 26, have faced dozens of such challenges in the past year as they sought to win over both businesses and environmental advocates. "If you go too far in one direction it could jeopardize my support, and I'm a strong proponent of this legislation," Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat whose concerns include the effects of offshore drilling on his coastal state, said in an interview. The measure by Democrat Kerry of Massachusetts, Republican Graham of South Carolina and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut will scale back legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year. Instead of a cap-and-trade program covering almost every part of the U.S. economy, as the House proposed, only power plants would be covered initially. Other industries such as manufacturers would be phased in later.
The Hill: Climate leaders push back on immigration bill moving first - A trio of key senators on Thursday pressured Democratic leaders not to let immigration reform displace a global warming bill. Moving the immigration bill first, as House and Senate leaders have discussed, threatens the rare chance of winning passage of climate change legislation, said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). "It destroys the ability to do something like energy and climate," Graham told reporters in the Capitol. He called the suggestion to move on immigration first "the ultimate CYA politics" - as in "cover your a-." Graham and his partners in writing climate legislation, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) met with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday to discuss their bill and the Senate agenda. Kerry and Lieberman separately told reporters that Reid was committed to bringing their legislation to the floor, but they did not appear to have received a firm commitment on timing.
Roll Call: House Republicans Organize to Thwart Climate Legislation - House Republicans have launched a new "real-time" e-mail, Internet and media offensive aimed at fueling public opposition to Democrats' climate proposals. The effort, which Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) is spearheading, is designed to coincide with Senate introduction of a climate change proposal next week and the upcoming annual summer spike in gas prices that inevitably results in a message war on Capitol Hill over which party is to blame for higher prices at the pump. The GOP Conference on Thursday sent out the first installment of what will become a regular e-mail alert - dubbed "Power Lines" - with arguments about the adverse effect the Senate proposal would have on jobs and gas prices. The effort is being spearheaded by 31 House Republicans dubbed the American Energy Solutions Group.
Congress Daily: Graham: Immigration Would Hamper Climate Bill - If Democratic leaders bring up an immigration reform bill in a "haphazard way," then it "destroys the ability to do something like energy and climate," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he may bring up immigration before a climate and energy bill, possibly before Graham finishes any bipartisan deal with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who chairs a Judiciary Committee subcommittee overseeing the issue. "What bill are we going to introduce? Is it going to be the bill that President Obama tried too?" Graham asked reporters. "Am I supposed to write every bill for the whole country?" added Graham, who is trying to put together a deal with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., on a carbon control and energy production strategy.
BNA: Pelosi Says Push for Senate Climate Vote Should Not Preclude Action on Immigration - With climate change legislation facing an uncertain future in the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said April 22 she would welcome Senate action on immigration reform even if it means pushing back a vote on an energy and climate bill. The House speaker told BNA that while a climate change and energy package has long been her "flagship" issue, she is also committed to immigration reform and would not object to the Senate moving on that bill before it gets to the climate measure, which cleared the House nearly a year ago. "I don't want anybody using [the] energy legislation" as a reason for blocking progress on immigration, Pelosi said. "Some have been saying, ‘Well, she's not going to do immigration because she wants energy more than anything else,' " which is not accurate, she said.