Republican Sen. Norm Coleman recently made headlines for beginning work on a surprising piece of legislation. Coleman is striving to block states and government agencies from regulating carbon dioxide emissions. It is not surprising that he is trying to undermine environmental policy (Coleman doesn’t have a great environmental track record), but it is surprising that Coleman would propose legislation that is completely out of line with the beliefs of his constituents.
Coleman has stated that he wants to reduce greenhouse gasses, but he wants to cripple the government’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. His idea would allow companies to earn credits through voluntary emission reduction. Coleman is apprehensive about the economic impacts of government regulations. While it’s a legitimate concern, he’s continuing a misguided tradition of placing the economy ahead of ecological responsibility.
Just after Coleman’s proposal, the Minnesota Natural Legacy Campaign released a new poll showing 62 percent of Minnesotans favored limiting discharges of greenhouse gasses, and Minnesotans are generally unconcerned about a negative economic backlash. Seventy-four percent believe that carbon dioxide restrictions will create new jobs that focus on environmentally friendly products. It appears that Coleman is completely out of step with his constituents.
Global warming is a real threat that needs real action. Allowing companies to voluntarily accept regulations will not deliver expedient results. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation to reduce California’s emissions significantly and it’s a bipartisan benchmark that our legislators should follow.
Coleman might want to change his tune before his re-election bid in 2008; the survey also found 59 percent of Minnesotans are more likely to vote for a candidate that would implement mandatory carbon dioxide limits. We care about this planet and we want our legislators to do the same. Coleman, on the other hand, should stop blowing hot air; he’s not helping the problem.