Looking at the dirty business conducted by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday, it’s no surprise that the committee chair, Jeff Bingaman, decided to censor the normal live webcast of the committee. If Americans could have watched the servile catering to fossil fuel lobbyists by several of the committee’s Democrats, they might have questioned the narrative of the 2008 election, that the Democrats would bring hope and change to Washington D.C.
It wasn’t just the way that four Democratic senators on the committee – from inland states – joined with Republicans to pass an energy bill amendment to expand offshore drilling in waters near Florida’s tourist beaches. Democrats supported other amendments favoring the fossil fuel industry, and opposing environmental concerns, as well. They voted in a second amendment offering yet more oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and another amendment that creates a special loophole allowing the federal government to buy energy products from Canada’s tar sands – one of the dirtiest sources of energy on the planet. Currently, a law forbids the government from purchasing energy from sources that result in greenhouse gas emissions at a rate higher than ordinary petroleum. Yesterday, Senate Democrats on the energy committee helped to roll back that restriction.
Looking back to the 2008 election, I seem to remember that the Republicans, with their drill baby drill message of an America that hugs fossil fuels, lost. They lost the presidency. They lost seats in Congress. The old oil economy was rejected by voters, who supported candidates promising a new focus on sustainable energy.
Why, then, are the Democrats in Congress now acting like Republicans, and supporting dirty old energy interests? Do they really think voters won’t notice?