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Tragic Irony in U.S. Politics on Energy and Environment

In conversations I had many years ago with people who followed U.S. energy politics closely, I received several suggestions that I not criticize Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) too harshly. “He’s a laughing stock,” I was told repeatedly.  “The incredible ignorance he reveals in his extreme anti-environmentalist position does his cause more harm than good.”  That seemed reasonable, and, accordingly, I backed off.

But now that Inhofe will take control of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January, I’m wondering (not that my lone voice would have made a significant difference): Did I make the right call?  His star isn’t rising, it’s soaring.  He may be a laughing stock among people who rely on science to guide environmental policy, but this constituency doesn’t appear to be flourishing in today’s United States.

Inhofe is on a self-proclaimed mission to dismantle the EPA and put asunder every inch of progress we’ve made with respect to the environment.  He’s gaining ground, and he’s completely unabashed in his beliefs, as evidenced by recent his statement:

As we enter a new Congress, I will do everything in my power to rein in and shed light on the EPA’s unchecked regulations.

and his earlier statement on climate disruption:

The United Nations invented the idea of global warming in order to “shut down the machine called America.”

Among his systems of intellectual support for all this is the Old Testament, where he quotes Genesis 8:22 and points out:

‘As long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.

As always, I’m reluctant to criticize his (or anyone’s) faith.  But using the bible to suggest that modern science is irrelevant is not a reasonable way to set policy in the 21st Century.

At the risk of sounding hysterical, this is a singularly lame point in U.S. history.  To top it, we’ll need a Surgeon General who advocates leeches and blood-letting, or a NASA director whose understanding of the solar system is based on the retrograde motion of the planets.