( – promoted by DocHoc)
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s abysmal record on the environment is a major issue among Oklahomans and could help pro-environment Andrew Rice in his campaign against the state’s senior senator, according to a recent article in The New Republic.
The June 3 article, written by Marisa Mazria-Katz, notes how state Sen. Rice, 35, pictured right, has put “environment issues at the heart of his campaign.”
On the trail, [Rice] emphasizes his efforts in the Oklahoma legislature to convert the state’s vehicle fleet to clean-burning fuel and to require public schools to reduce their energy consumption. Rice is hoping his larger agenda of alternative fuel initiatives, which include better harnessing the state’s vast natural gas resources, will appeal to a wide range of voters. “There is a segment of Oklahoma’s population that is willing to swing to the other side for the first time in 20 years,” Rice says.
Rice represents a district in Oklahoma City, but he continues to appeal to state rural voters who are tired of Inhofe’s grandstanding on global warming. Environmental issues transcend political affiliation and the 73-year-old Inhofe seems out of touch with the latest scientific information about climate change. Even his own political party’s presumptive presidential nominee has proposed a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions. The article notes,
While there are other reasons for Inhofe’s drop in popularity–particularly his mishandling of the state’s devastating ice storm last year–environmental issues have surprisingly risen to the top of many Oklahoma voters’ agendas. According to a TVPoll survey taken in February, 86 percent of likely Oklahoma voters believe that the state and federal government must take a strong hand in tackling environmental issues–and so they’re taking a second look at the Republican Party’s hard-line stance on environmental issues. In the same poll, almost two-thirds of likely voters disagreed with Inhofe’s position on climate change, and almost twice as many believed that the Democratic Party was better positioned to handle environmental issues than the GOP.
Rice’s environmental proposals are measured and thorough even as they promote substantial change in how we view and respond to climate change. He understands global warming’s particular impact on Oklahoma, and he sees an opportunity for the state in creating new energy sources. According to his campaign Web site,
…Rice believes Oklahoma is in a unique position to lead the way in research and development of alternative fuels and in promotion of clean-burning energy. Also, because of our state’s diverse wildlife and abundant agricultural resources, our quality of life is at great risk if nothing is done. Rather than standing as a stubborn obstacle to change, Oklahoma’s U.S. Senator should help his state by taking a leadership role in Congress to advocate for reduced carbon emissions and development of alternative, clean-burning energy technology.
The environment, of course, is not the only issue in which Inhofe is out of synch with Oklahomans. Inhofe remains an ardent supporter of the Iraq war, for example. He has offered no major deviation from the Bush agenda if he is reelected, yet Oklahoma has a sizeable percentage of people without access to adequate health care. His political party has offered no real solutions to the health care crisis, stagnant wages and rising living costs. It is not political hyperbole to argue that Inhofe represents the status quo in right-wing Washington politics. He is truly a figurehead of dead GOP ideologies, of the failed neoconservative experiment.
Rice remains the underdog in the race, for sure, in conservative Oklahoma. He has raised more than $1 million in campaign money, but it is only half of what Inhofe has raised. More importantly, the right-wing corporate media in Oklahoma-led by the ultra-conservative newspaper The Oklahoman-refuses to cover in any depth the growing tide of world leaders who oppose Inhofe’s radical positions on the environment. Inhofe has brought great embarrassment to the state’s residents, but the newspaper refuses to cover the story.
But this is a year of change. The Democrats have their presidential nominee now, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, who represents the philosophy of change in historic terms, and Republican political strongholds are crumbling throughout the nation. Rice, an articulate, intelligent progressive, represents a clear break from Inhofe and the past. He has a strong grassroots appeal as well.