In these first few weeks of the session, legislators in Jefferson City have been awfully distracted by Washington, D.C.
This morning, Sen. Bill Stouffer, a Republican from Saline County (and candidate for Congress), held a press conference to rail against gays in the military. As early as December, two lawmakers from St. Louis introduced the so-called "Health Care Freedom Act" to exempt Missourians from the shackles of still-hypothetical federal health insurance reform.
Representative Jerry Nolte wants to liberate Missouri from renewable energy.
The Republican from Gladstone is the sponsor of the "Climate Change Concerns" resolution, which presses federal policymakers to abandon energy legislation that would address global warming. It's chalk full of scary adjectives. According to Nolte, if the feds pass a cap-and-trade bill, resident will face "massive increases in energy costs" and a "dramatic increase in the price of gasoline." We'll see a "massive transfer of wealth to the federal government," while Missouri jobs go up in smoke.
Being worried about the impact of federal energy legislation isn't entirely out to pasture. After all, Missouri does get more than 80 percent of its energy from coal, which produces plenty of globe-warming pollution. But Nolte's nebulous scare tactics extend beyond economics.
In his resolution, the Gladstone Republican also attacks the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international panel of hundreds of scientists who have been studying climate science for decades. According to Nolte, the online publication of a few out-of-context (and illegally obtained) e-mails from IPCC scientists last month mean global warming is a hoax.
"The IPCC report has recently been fundamentally and profoundly called into question by the exposure of fraudulent analysis and conclusions," the resolution insists. "The fraud is in large part the basis of 'climate change' concerns, declaration and proposals including cap and trade. The nature of the fraud is deliberate concealment and manipulation of scientific data that did not support IPCC conclusions."
But the flap over a few e-mails was short-lived and groups like the Sierra Club don't think climate change should be relegated to quotation marks. And where Nolte has vague adjectives, environmental activists have statistics. For instance: According to a June study from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, the passage of pending federal energy legislation could add 36,000 jobs and about $2.9 billion in investment revenue in the state of Missouri. As for energy costs: The Natural Resources Defense Council calculates that the average Missouri family would save $6.32 per in energy bills and $16.82 per month in vehicles fuel costs if lawmakers passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
Nolte didn't return my phone calls, but he'll probably get a few visits tomorrow, when environmentalists converge on the capitol for Conservation Lobby Day. He won't be the only one getting grilled about global warming skepticism. Plenty of other lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of Nolte's resolution. Here's the list of area lawmakers who have "climate change concerns":