- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2010

While we shouldn’t expect our left-wing elitist president to understand Tuesday’s electoral rejection of his “progressive” prescriptions for America, we should expect Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, to get it.

But Mr. McConnell seems to have missed the message, at least when it comes to “cap-and-trade” - odd for a coal-state politician. The day after the election, Mr. McConnell said, “The president says he’s for nuclear power. Most of my members are for nuclear power. The president says he’s for clean coal technology. Most of my members are for clean coal technology. There are areas that we can make progress on for the country.”

Aside from the canard of President Obama sincerely supporting nuclear power and the fact that Republicans ought to avoid the loaded and already co-opted-by-the-left word “progress,” so-called “clean coal” is a form of Obama-think - a discredited cap-and-trade concept that was more trap than sincere policy.

Some in the coal industry and some coal-burning electric utilities had been talked into supporting cap-and-trade, provided that taxpayers and ratepayers forked over billions (if not trillions) of dollars for so-called “carbon capture and sequestration” (CCS) - that is, burying utility carbon-dioxide emissions deep underground and hoping they stay there safely.

But to the extent that any so-called environmentalists paid any lip service to clean coal and CCS, it was only to lure coal and utility suckers into cap-and-trade. Does anyone really believe, after all, that the greens would allow utilities to inject underground billions of tons of highly pressurized carbon dioxide all over the nation? They fought tooth-and-nail, after all, to prevent the storage of sealed casks of spent nuclear fuel one mile underground in the Nevada desert.

But discussion of clean coal and CCS are academic because, as of Jan. 3, 2011, cap-and-trade will be as dead as dead gets. This is because there is no cap-and-trade without CCS, and you can bet that the 112th Congress - at least on the House side - will not appropriate the billions (or trillions) of dollars necessary for large-scale CCS. So clean coal is dead, too - except in the minds of establishment zombies who slept through the election.

If all anyone is worried about with coal is carbon dioxide, then coal is already clean - and that’s what all Republican Senate candidates believed, except perhaps for Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen.-elect Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois.

Radical environmentalists are trying to put out the post-election message that support for cap-and-trade wasn’t a big negative for House Democrats.

But as a former senior Senate staffer pointed out to me, one need look no further than the 10 House Democrats who voted for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill but voted against the health care bill - i.e., Reps. John Adler of New Jersey, Rick Boucher of Virginia, Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Ike Skelton of Missouri, Zack Space of Ohio, Harry Teague of New Mexico, Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts and Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota.

Of the 10, three were in noncompetitive seats (Mr. Peterson, Mr. Lynch and Mr. Lipinski). Mr. Lynch and Mr. Lipinski, in fact, voted against health care because it didn’t go far enough. That leaves seven House members who voted against health care but supported Waxman-Markey. Six of them were defeated Tuesday, and the seventh, Mr. Chandler, led by just 600 votes out of 239,000 cast, but the race hadn’t been called yet as of Thursday.

So Waxman-Markey seems to have figured prominently in all seven of those races, especially in Mr. Boucher’s, considering his role in helping to craft the bill. In the Teague race, returning Rep.-elect Steve Pearce cited the cap-and-trade vote as one of the primary reasons he decided to challenge Mr. Teague once again for his old job.

Mr. McConnell should wake up to the new reality in Washington - a reality that does not include the discredited and lamebrain ideas of Mr. Obama and the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid 111th Congress. Many of Tuesday’s Republican victors probably would just as soon have the Tea Party-esque and already-hip-to-the-new-reality Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina as their leader.

If Mr. McConnell keeps prattling about “clean coal,” he just might one day find himself in the same scrap heap as all the Democrats who were smoked Tuesday because of their votes for Waxman-Markey.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).

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