As the eyes of the world turn hopefully to the climate talks in Paris, Kentuckians can only hang their heads.
Our senior senator, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is trying to obstruct an international agreement. He is doing this by undermining confidence that President Barack Obama can deliver on promises he makes to other nations during the two-week conference.
McConnell has morphed from ranting about a “war on coal” to accusing Obama of waging an “attack on the middle class,” who McConnell says cannot afford a transition to clean energy. In a column in the Washington Post on Sunday, McConnell warned other nations to “proceed with caution” because the Republican Congress opposes the president’s domestic plan for controlling heat-trapping emissions and the next president could kill the plan altogether.
Kentuckians overwhelmingly re-elected McConnell to a sixth term last year. But it’s not as if voters had much choice on the climate issue. McConnell’s Democratic opponent, like most politicians of both parties in Kentucky, was a captive to coal.
It’s encouraging that the U.S. public sees through the political bluster and well-funded efforts to mislead on the science. Two-thirds of Americans, a solid majority, say the U.S. should join an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming, according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll. Three in four say global warming is already having a serious environmental impact or will in the future.
As leaders from around the world work over the next two weeks to develop a plan to avert climate catastrophe, Kentucky will again be on the sidelines.
It’s one thing to stand up for your state’s carbon-intensive industries and look out for its economic interests. It’s something else when myopic self-interest pushes you to the wrong side of history, where McConnell has firmly planted himself. We can only hope he doesn’t bring Kentucky down with him.