The Tribune's Janese Heavin has the scoop on a really interesting development in the story of Gary Forsee's opposition to federal clean energy legislation. For several days, he's sustained criticism for lending support to the Republican efforts to kill the legislation. Then yesterday, things got a whole lot worse for the President of the UM System when it was reveled that the calculations at the core of this opposition were incorrect.
In light of these facts, Forsee began to walk back his opposition at a Mizzou campus town hall earlier today, and reaffirmed his support for reducing carbon emissions.
This morning, Forsee told the Tribune he was “never not in support of cap-and-trade,” rather that the letter was in the context of its impact on the university...
Forsee said he didn’t see the letter as contradicting his signature on the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which calls for a reduction of greenhouse gases, because he was only asking that lawmakers consider the fiscal impact on MU. “I wasn’t saying we don’t agree with the president’s climate initiative,” he said...
The confusion over the facts of the bill is a “little embarrassing,” said Dan Hooley, an MU professor of classical studies and chairman of the Environmental Affairs and Sustainability Committee. “We’ve been wrangling with an issue we didn’t quite understand. We need to really get our facts straight and get the details of the bill fully under control before making any statement about opposing or supporting the legislation.”
The letter is embarrassing, but it's good to see Forsee reaffirm his commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, I'm not sure what Forsee thought his letter would accomplish if he didn't want to help kill the proposed cap-and-trade bills. Instead of releasing the letter through his own office, he allowed it to be distributed by the office of Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, a serial misinformer on climate change and energy bill issues. Accordingly, it was celebrated on the right by everyone from Rep. Jo Ann Emerson to Rush Limbaugh -- a series of developments most certainly anticipated by Forsee's VP of Government Relations (and former Kit Bond staffer) Steve Knorr.
Moreover, Forsee's letter on UM System letterhead to Members of Congress did more than just raise concerns or ask questions about the legislation's cost. It read, "we have grave concerns and oppose this legislation for the detrimental impact it will have on the University of Missouri System." Since then, of course, we've learned that "we" meant "we" in only the Royal sense, and his understanding of the "detrimental impact" was wrong.
Hopefully, today's comments are an indication that Forsee is willing to educate himself about the actual contents of the bill, and perhaps make as much news supporting a bill as he has in opposition the past 10 days.
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