Skip to main content

Cows Doing What They Do: Boehner on Climate Change

Boehner So we understand that issues around cap-and-trade are complex and those trying to wrap their minds around it – we mean legislators – may not have completely coherent positions yet.

But climate change, which cap-and-trade means to mitigate, has only two major poles: either humankind is contributing to it or humankind is not contributing to it. Presumably, another perspective might be that there is a human contribution but it is not determinative, but you don’t hear that one so much.

We found House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) rather endearing in his attempt, on ABC’s This Week, to pound all these poles efficiently into the ground.

[George] STEPHANOPOULOS: So what is the responsible way? That's my question. What is the Republican plan to deal with carbon emissions, which every major scientific organization has said is contributing to climate change?

BOEHNER: George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide.

Well, no denying that. While we imagine Boehner is exaggerating or aiming at a metaphor when he calls carbon emissions carcinogens – they’re not - we take away from this that he does not feel people are contributing to the problem.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But it sounds like from what you're saying that you don't believe that Republicans need to come up with a plan to control carbon emissions? You're suggesting it's not that big of a problem, even though the scientific consensus is that it has contributed to the climate change.

BOEHNER: I think it is -- I think it is an issue. The question is, what is the proper answer and the responsible answer?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is the answer? That's what I'm trying to get at.

BOEHNER: George, I think everyone in America is looking for the proper answer. We don't want to raise taxes, $1.5 to $2 trillion like the administration is proposing, and we don't want to ship millions of American jobs overseas. And so we've got to find ways to work toward this solution to this problem without risking the future for our kids and grandkids.

Okay, he does believe it’s an issue. If we’re understanding correctly, his major concern is that a solution should not be blindingly expensive nor should it send jobs overseas. This seems a bit  boilerplate, since exporting jobs is a non-functional part of the equation and characterizing cap-and-trade as a tax is not exactly on the nose. But taxes and exporting jobs are reliable alarm bells, so why not ring them?

We’re not really trying to get on Boehner’s case here. We do want to demonstrate the verbiage that precedes a real debate on an issue. We’re not even sure Boehner has sorted out how much he should be for or against anything except insofar as he is in the minority party.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you are committed to coming up with a plan?

BOEHNER: I think you'll see a plan from us. Just like you've seen a plan from us on the stimulus bill and a better plan on the budget.

In other words, wait and see. Well, fine, we may have hoped for a more coherent view of the issues, but we’ll wait and see.

Rep. John Boehner.


A majority of the American people, especially Republicans and Independents, want more nuclear power plants built in this country.

Unfortunately, many Republicans would rather play politics with climate change instead of simply coming out in strong support for a lot more nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power is the solution to climate change and the energy crisis and that should be on the lips of every Republican who addresses this subject.
Ioannes said…
First, Marcel is correct. Second, no one should ever be elected to public office without an understanding in basic science. Third, global warming due to man releasing green house gases is still a subject of debate and it is NOT proven that human activity is warming Earth. Fourth, all those things being said, it is still wrong for fossil fuel power plants to use the atmosphere as their sewer.

Now there IS a refutation of global warming at:

There is another one here:

People of far greater knowledge than many of us on this subject still disagree, even though most of the popular news media and most of the politicians currently in power have bought the "CO2 - global warming" idea "hook-line-and-sinker". Global warming is NOT the reason to use nuclear power plants. The real reason is two fold: fossil fuels will run out, and fossil fuel use pollutes and kills (30000 annually from coal fired power plant emissions in the US, I am told). The most important reason is the second reason: fossil fuel use kills. Nuclear energy demonstratedly does NOT (here I am referring to typical Western design reactors, not the Soviet RBMK at Chernobyl).

I also find it very odd that many of the people crying about CO2 emissions causing global warming won't support nuclear energy. Not what's the sense in that position? It's as ridiculous as Boehner's argument that there is no global warming from CO2 emissions. I think Boehner may be correct, but his rationale is hardly well thought out.

Again, anyone who can't understand basic science ought not to be a "public servant". Period. And I don't care if he's Democrat or Republican.
crf said…
Marcel F. Williams. Maybe those kind of responsible republicans exist. But they are not speaking up to disown their "leaders", and how many of these responsible republicans are in congress? Where is the evidence of a responsible republican party?

Boehner is the kind of guy who would have an argument over whether you should put your pants on before your underwear. And he would take the pants first side. And he is the republican leader. So who cares what his position on nuclear power is? He clearly doesn't arrive at his positions by any kind of logical process.
Ioannes said…

I understand your point. Unfortunately, you're essentially correct. That being said, I am a registered Republican but tend to be Libertarian in political outlook. With regard to your question, "Where is the evidence of a responsible Republican Party?", I would also ask where is the evidence of a responsible Democrat Party? A three trillion dollar debt isn't an example of responsibility.

Furthermore, both Democrats and Republicans have stymied the growth of new nuclear power plants. The Democrats ingratiated themselves with the anti-nuclear activitist for decades and the Republicans with big fossil fuel corporations. And with the way things are happening in Washington, DC, I see very little sense of responsibility from either the Oval Office or our Congress Critters, and I say that irrespective of political party.

The country needs lots of new nuclear power plants right now. The Democrats are slowly coming to the awareness that we need new plants, and their opposition to nuclear energy is waning. BUT unlike McCain who wanted to build 40 new nukes right away, Obama has been mostly quiet and very, very little of the three trillion in debt is being obtained for new nukes.

Nope, I don't see responsibility on the part of either big party. The Republicans are only less bad.
Anonymous said…
You're a libertarian, but you want the federal government to build 40 commercial nuclear power plants? Please explain.
Ioannes said…
No, anonymous, I do NOT want Federal funding of new nukes - or new solar or new wind or anything.

Rather, I prefer leveling the regulatory playing field such that the coal plants can't any longer use the atmosphere as their sewer. However, it isn't likely that my "dream" will come to fruition. The Obama Administration is quite adamant about govt involvement in the free market economy, hence the 3 trillion in debt. I note with irony that little if any of that is going to new nukes.

Now of course the right thing to do is to let the free market take its natural course, however painful that may be. But if that's not Obama's tactic, then why doesn't he do more to support new nukes? Wouldn't even govt sponsored new nukes be better than taking out debt for corporations like AIG?

But I am not an economist. I can only say that the best govt is small govt, and what we have today isn't a free market, but govt sponsored corporatism.

Nukes will survive, however, but perhaps in countries other than the US. Sad, very sad.
Anonymous said…
"I do NOT want Federal funding of new nukes - or new solar or new wind or anything."

OK, so how was McCain supposed to build 40 nuclear power plants, as you said earlier he would have?

I get really tired of GOP supporters saying McCain would have built 40 nuclear power plants. A lot of promises are made in presidential campaigns. McCain never specified how that would be done, or who would pay for it. Just a lot of hot air.
Daniel said…
Well, regarding whether or not humans are contributing to climate change (I guess we decided to quietly drop global warming), I saw an intriguing story compiling quotes from National Geographic, Discovery Channel, MSNBC, FOX News, et al making the case that “Cows create almost 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Now that’s more than planes, trains and automobiles combined.”

So I think it's safe to say that IF climate change is caused by these natural gases, a huge part of it (more so than all our transportation combined) is caused simply by raising animals.

And in case you want to fact check me, the story I'm referencing is at and they have all their references linked from there.
Mark Flanagan said…
To Daniel -I'm a little lazy to look it up right now, but I believe you can control methane emissions from farm animals through dietary supplements that convert methane to glucose. In fact, this may be the lowest impact way of all to lower CO2 emissions, though it only gets you part way home.

About libertarian solutions to energy issues: We always hesitate on pure free market solutions because, like so many "pure" things with people involved, the tendency is to run wild in the absence of an effective countervailing force. That's a role for government.

Ionnes - You can have basic science under your belt and still not know for certain about climate change - it can't be proven, after all, it can only be correlated to, in this case, the presence of man before and after the industrial revolution. Beyond that, all bets off. (A preponderance of scientific agreement helps shape policy though.)
sefarkas said…
I get really tired of GOP supporters saying McCain would have built 40 nuclear power plants. A lot of promises are made in presidential campaigns. McCain never specified how that would be done, or who would pay for it. Just a lot of hot air.

McCain campaign simply took the likely number of applications for COLs and spoke very forcefully that these plants should be built. The number 40 comes from the industry proposing to build them. The federal government's role is to review the application against the publicly debated and available standards to evaluate them by. McCain's point was to keep the patently anti-nuclear crowd from standing in the way of what is good for America, and what most Americans want for America.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.

Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …