Inhofe says climate change bill will be "dead in the water" in Senate

In this April 22 file photo, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington as Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., listens. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

By JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Published: 6/30/2009 7:33 PM
Last Modified: 7/1/2009 9:17 AM

WASHINGTON — U.S. Jim Inhofe, who earlier said a criminal investigation “probably should be’’ conducted into allegations the EPA suppressed a climate change report, conceded Tuesday he is not qualified to make that determination.

“I have no way of knowing,’’ the Oklahoma Republican said.

Inhofe, however, stood by his prediction that a historic climate change bill narrowly approved by the House last week faces certain defeat in the Senate.

“It’s dead in the water,’’ he said.

Inhofe said the much-anticipated conclusion of a Senate race in Minnesota that will give Democrats the 60 votes needed to overcome Republican filibusters would not be enough to save the climate change bill.

“I’ll tell you what a lot of people are thinking, and that is it looks like things are going to be over and we are going to get the clown from Minnesota,’’ he said.

“They are not going to get more than 35 votes.’’

Asked if he was referring to Al Franken as the clown from Minnesota, Inhofe confirmed he was.

“I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. I don’t know the guy, but … for a living he is a clown,’’ the senator said.

“That’s what he does for a living.’’

A former cast member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Franken on Tuesday was declared the winner of the Minnesota race and is expected to join the Senate next week.

Inhofe’s comments on whether the Environmental Protection Agency suppressed climate change views of a veteran employee warranted a criminal investigation came Monday in response to a question on Fox News concerning agency e-mails that fueled the allegations.

“I don’t know whether there would be or not,’’ the senator said initially. “There could be and there probably should be.’’

In his interview with the Tulsa World on Tuesday, he also conceded that his own investigation into the matter has not uncovered anything that would warrant a criminal investigation.

As the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe said he is also sending EPA a letter on the process used on the climate change report.

EPA disputed the allegations over the climate change matter in a statement provided by spokesman Andy Adora.

“Claims that this individual’s opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false,’’ the statement read.

“The individual in question is not a scientist and was not part of the working group dealing with this issue.’’

Nevertheless, it continued, the document he submitted was reviewed by his peers and agency scientists and information from that report was submitted by his manager to those responsible for developing the endangerment finding.

“In fact, some ideas from that document are included and addressed in the endangerment finding,’’ the statement read.

A global warming skeptic and a leading Republican critic of Democrats’ efforts to pass legislation addressing climate change, Inhofe again cited what he considers a lack of support even from his fellow Republicans in the past.

He predicted that is changing.

“The other goal,’’ Inhofe said of his current effort, “would be to discredit those who have been discrediting me for 10 years. You know from '98 to '05, I was alone.’’ ... SHIN285450