Eight House Republicans voted for the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act. Because 44 Democrats went "all wobbly," as Margaret Thatcher used to say, the eight Republicans who voted "aye" made the difference in passing the bill.
Call them the ACES Eight.
The ACES Eight are being pilloried by Republican activists and talk radio shock jocks.
With the Fourth of July weekend fresh in our minds, let's celebrate patriotism and get to know the ACES Eight.
First, let's be clear. ACES is hard to love. It's like an awkward teenager in the family, all elbows, pimples, and attitude.
As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman noted, it's a "Rube Goldberg contraption." Without missing a beat, Friedman also urged the Senate to pass the thing. Why? Because it's time to put a price on carbon, start re-orienting the economy away from carbon-rich fuels, and signal the world that we're doing our part to attack climate change and other countries had better do theirs.
The Republican critics of the ACES Eight would have a leg to stand on if House GOP leaders had offered an effective, realistic alternative to ACES that took prudent notice of the climate change risks that virtually all credible research says are heading our way.
Instead, they served up a mixed grill of stale ideas that ignored climate change and would perpetuate our dangerous dependence on oil, which earns them a big, wet kiss from His Fraudulency, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the other petro-bozos overseas who mean our country harm.
So, the ACES Eight took the measure of the economic, security, and environmental problems tied to our current energy habits and decided that, flaws and all, ACES needed to move forward.
Bono Mack is popping up more often as a conservation leader. She has sponsored legislation to expand wilderness and monuments that leaven Southern California's megalopolitan sprawl. Her district, a swath of desert that stretches from the LA metro area's eastern exurbs to the Colorado River, is a treasure chest of solar and wind energy. Renewables are an economic development opportunity waiting to happen and she knows it.
The lone congressman from the First State is not a showboat, but he's been one of the most consistently pro-environment lawmakers on the Hill. In Republicans for Environmental Protection's annual Congressional Scorecard, Castle consistently scores in the 90s. In explaining his vote for ACES, Castle said, "Challenging economic times demand that we look to the future, not cling to the past."
National security is a primary concern for Kirk. Unlike armchair warriors like Rush Limbaugh, Kirk's is a credible voice on defense issues. While serving in Congress, he has fulfilled his duties as a Naval Reserve commander in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kirk says "it's time to set America's policy towards defunding Middle Eastern dictatorships by cutting our foreign oil bill."
There is no greener Republican delegation than New Jersey's. Understandable, since their state, more than most, has experienced the hind end of industrialization. More than most, New Jersey is a spear-carrier for doing better by the environment. As House freshman Lance said, "it's time for other states to follow New Jersey's leadership and do their share to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate development of low-carbon energy sources and green jobs."
When you represent the Adirondacks, you know first hand the damage that coal emissions do to our natural treasures and to human health. McHugh noted that ACES "provided the best opportunity since I have been in Congress for significant legislative action to be taken in the fight to combat acid rain and mercury precipitation."
The former sheriff of King County, Reichert approaches lawmaking like the criminal investigator he once was. He collects evidence, talks to specialists, and lets facts, not sloganeering, guide his decision-making. And with a district graced by mountain forests, wilderness, free-flowing rivers, and Mount Rainier National Park, Reichert has often reminded his fellow Republicans that conservatives ought to conserve.
The ACES Eight did right by our country. Wave a flag for them this weekend.
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