Monday, January 29, 2007

Who is in the middle on global warming?

The Billings Gazette's headline tells us that the Montana delegation takes middle ground on global warming.

When viewing the extremes on global warming, this is probably true, but the information in the rest of the article is instructive regarding the varied thinking of the three members of the Montana delegation to Washington.

Democrat Senator Max Baucus seems to take the approach of having his cake and eating it too. He voted against a 2003 bill to restrict greenhouse gas emissions because it was too strict, and he voted against a later bill proposed by President Bush because it didn't go far enough.

With the former, he keeps out of trouble at home, and with the latter, he keeps out of trouble with his national Democrat fund-raising sources. This vacillating approach (and it seems to be a modus operandi on a variety of issues) drives liberals as crazy as it does conservatives. This isn't middle ground, it is no-man's land.

The quotations from our new Senator Jon Tester seem calculated to stay out of trouble with the people who poured money into Montana to get him elected: Conservation and alternative energy sources. There's nothing wrong with either -- in fact, much more is needed of both. But the topic is greenhouse gas emissions, and unless Tester plans on Montanans going without gas in their trucks and electricity in their homes, he is going to have to commit to what he thinks is an acceptable level of emissions.

Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg seems to be the one with the truest middle ground as quoted in this article, since he specifically states the need for a comprehensive solution that doesn't punish just one industry, and which takes a global approach -- lest companies just move overseas seeking countries with lesser emission standards.

All three are certainly in the middle when compared to national extremes, and Montanans can be grateful for that. Look, however, for Sen. Baucus, who faces reelection sooner, to be the Democrat more to the right. Tester, on the other hand, has 4 years to vote quietly with the left and then 2 years to swing back to the right just before his own election.

For the primary difference between Barbara Boxer's positions and that of the Baucus/Tester Senatorial duo is not in philosophy, but in the nature of the electorate each has to face.