Is Lieberman a Broadwater Enabler? Lamont and Kennedy Say Yes
The feeling in both Connecticut and New York is that if the decision to approve or deny Broadwater’s application were left to the states, denial would be guaranteed. But the energy bill gives that authority to the federal government. Here’s how the Stamford Advocate explained it:
The current bill gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to its text, "exclusive authority to approve or deny an application for the siting, construction, expansion, or operation of an LNG terminal."
So if you think the Broadwater proposal is a bad idea, which Lieberman has said he does, how could you have voted for the federal energy bill? Lieberman was the only Democratic senator from the northeast to do so.
Lieberman’s camp points out, correctly, that he has championed virtually all the important Long Island Sound cleanup legislation. They also point out that there were good reasons to vote for the energy bill despite the fact that it gives LNG siting decisions to FERC. Here’s what the Advocate reported:
[Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy] Sun said the bill resulted in a 63 percent reduction in potential utility rate increases; promoted fuel cell technology, which helps the environment and boosts Connecticut companies like Proton and United Technologies; and helped hold oil companies liable for contaminating clean drinking water.
But the Advocated also asserted this:
The senator's support of the energy bill, which environmentalists also criticized as providing a windfall in tax breaks to energy companies, dogged him throughout a primary campaign that focused on his support of Bush and his Republican agenda.
This is a good issue for Connecticut environmentalists to focus on, I think. Lieberman clearly supports the Long Island Sound cleanup, for which he deserves credit. On the other hand, it’s an easy issue to champion, one which every elected official supports and which it’s impossible to imagine Lamont not supporting. So if the Long Island Sound cleanup is important, you’ll get the same with Lamont as you’ve gotten with Lieberman.
On the other hand, if you think that President Bush is wrong about most issues and is barely competent to be president, and if you think as Lamont does that Lieberman is closely allied with Bush and will continue to support his policies, than the energy bill vote is simply another argument in your favor. This happens to be where I stand, although my eligibility to vote in the election ended six years ago when I moved out of Connecticut.
Lieberman says he’ll do whatever he can to stop Broadwater, including introducing specific legislation. It’s not clear to me why he hasn’t done so already.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s not as if Lieberman’s vote on the energy bill would have changed anything. If he had voted no, it would have passed 73 to 27.
But in some cases votes are all we have to base our decisions on.