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September 1, 2014

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The Policy Racket

Salazar: Colorado River issue could push conservatives to face climate change

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Sam Morris / Sun file photo

Discoloration around the banks of Lake Mead shows how much the water level has declined over the years.

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Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar speaks about a Nevada Test Site solar power development zone during a news conference at UNLV's Greenspun Hall Thursday, July 8, 2010.

WASHINGTON - Could Western conservatives push the GOP toward adopting a more friendly stance on climate change?

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar certainly seems to think so.

In comments he delivered at a symposium hosted by the progressive Center for American Progress Thursday morning, Salazar said the worsening situation with the Colorado River -- where the water level has dropped about 20 percent in the last decade -- is serving as a powerful wake-up call to conservatives to do something about climate change.

“The seven states ... are a bastion of conservatism. They recognize ... that the water supplies of the Colorado River are directly related to the changing of the climate,” Salazar said. “You further reduce that by 20 percent, what’s that going to mean for the cities of Los Angeles and Las Vegas?”

“They get it,” Salazar continued. “And so what they’re saying to us is ‘we support, understand, the changes climate change is going to bring to our communities and our states, and we want to get ahead of it.’ ”

The Western states that feed off the Colorado River -- California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming -- are not all conservative-leaning; in fact, in the last presidential election, four of the seven went Democrat. But as a bloc, the West does have a higher complement of conservative voters and representatives than most regions of the country -- and also has an especially close dependency on the environment.

But Salazar’s suppositions aside, it doesn’t seem like mounting concern for the fate of the Colorado River has been translating into a rush of proactive moves when it comes to combating climate change. In fact, earlier this month, two of the region’s most powerful Republican senators, Orrin Hatch of Utah and John Barrasso of Wyoming, introduced legislation to limit President Obama’s ability to take steps to combat global warming.

The measure is intended to prevent federal agencies from introducing carbon-dioxide emissions limits without authorization from Congress, and according to a press release, “prevent any legal action from being taken against greenhouse gas emitters for their contribution to climate change.”

Their legislation would take regulation of greenhouse gases out from under the Environmental Protection Agency purview and put it in the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. It would also limit the administration’s ability to implement the Clean Air Act -- which Congress has passed and amended several times -- to pollutants that have shown to cause a direct effect to human beings, not those which may indirectly harm humans based on the theory that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.

Nevada’s conservatives are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to climate change. Both Rep. Dean Heller and Sen. John Ensign have opposed efforts to enforce carbon dioxide emissions limits, or require global warming considerations be part of federal project planning.

But Ensign has introduced legislation to broaden the use of renewable energy sources, and voted for creating tax incentives to support the sort of renewable energy projects that are breaking ground in Nevada. He’s also voted against subsidies for the oil and gas industries, which have no foothold in the state. Heller has taken the opposite position, voting in favor of oil and gas subsidies, and against tax incentives for renewable energy projects, although more recently he’s been speaking in favor of facilitating investment in those areas.

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  1. Hoping that the Colorado River will make the republicans cave in to some new job killing, special interest backed tax and spend programs is getting desperate.

    Now they are saying that if we allow the left to shove thru a bunch of new tax and spend programs that benefit only their campaign donors, the water level will magically rise??

    Now that's real magic I want to see!!

  2. Mark, read a book for Christ's sakes.

    Stop with the cliches. You sound like John Boehner.

    Republican Joe Barton of Texas has stated that he opposes wind turbines because they will use up all the wind! Is that who you listen to?

    We can create millions of jobs in the renewable energy sector, just like China, Spain and other countries are doing. Look at west Texas, where there is a boom in jobs in the wind power industry.

    Have you not kept up with the news about renewable energy projects coming to Nevada, and bringing good-paying jobs with them?

    We can do a much better job in water conservation, another area that will create jobs, not eliminate them.

    This is not Demos vs. Republicans, or at least it shouldn't be. It is just responding to the crisis that we face here in the West.

    The oil industry has spent millions putting out fake science, and sadly many (not all) conservatives have taken the bait.

    So stop with the partisanship and concentrate on the science.

  3. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is a tool, nothing more.

  4. what Woody sez...
    right freaking on, sir.

    Doubters, please... it's the same crap with the Obama birth certificate nonsense... quit listening to people that do NOT have your interests at heart. They have you hook, line & sinker, and they are privately laughing their arses off.
    If Boehner or Beck put a donut in front of you, and asked "IS that a donut? Because I'm telling you, it is so NOT a donut!" Would you deny it's a donut as well? It's borderline religious with this right-wing worship of people that DON'T HAVE CLUE 1!
    Rush
    Beck
    Hannity
    O'reilly
    Coulter
    Savage
    "Dr." Laura
    Novak
    Palin
    Not enough brain cells among them to decipher a cookie recipe.

  5. "GOP Lawmaker Mike Beard Claims God Will Provide Unlimited Natural Resources"

    Mike Beard, a Republican state representative from Minnesota, recently argued that coal mining should resume in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, in part because he believes God has created an earth that will provide unlimited natural resources.

    "God is not capricious. He's given us a creation that is dynamically stable," Beard told MinnPost. "We are not going to run out of anything."

    Does that include Cheeseburgers? For the Chinese and Russians too? Nice to have Good Republican Men who speak for God.