Senate Democrats Play Offense on Climate Change Ahead of 2016

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Here Are All the Senators Who Do and Don’t Believe in Human-Caused Climate Change.

U.S. The series of votes publicly tested Republicans’ stance on global warming just days after two federal agencies declared 2014 the hottest year on record and hours after President Barack Obama called global warming one of the greatest threats to future generations.House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has labeled the immigration reform bill the House is looking to bring to the floor for a vote next week “the most significant and toughest border security bill ever set before Congress,” but members from both sides of the aisle say the legislation doesn’t pass muster. “This is a horror of a bill,” Rep.At some point in the past few years, it dawned on leading Republicans that dismissing the science behind climate change was not doing them any favors with the public.

Senate Democrats are maneuvering to put Republicans on the record as denying that humans cause climate change, laying groundwork on a contentious issue as part of their strategy to retake the majority in 2016. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) told The Hill. “The cost is enormous, and it’s just impossible for the Homeland Security Department, I believe, to even engage in some of the responsibilities being asked for.” According to The Hill, McCaul’s bill is “designed to secure the southern border by requiring the Homeland Security Department to block all illegal migrations within five years, or two years for high-traffic regions.” But some lawmakers like Rep. During a debate over construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, intended to carry oil from Canada to the United States, the Senate voted on an amendment—just for show, really—on whether climate change “is real and not a hoax.” Easy question—everyone said yes, it’s real. (Well, not everyone. Recent polls show that a clear majority of Americans believe the climate is in fact changing, and nearly half view that as a major threat to the country’s future. The Senate on Wednesday, by a vote of 50-49 with 60 votes required, rejected an amendment that would have designated climate change as a man-made event.

Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) say that the bill is more than just difficult to implement — it’s also just bad policy. “This needs a big fix, and tinkering on the edges doesn’t solve it,” Becerra said. “And trying to avoid dealing with the tough issues is a wimpy way to make policy in Washington, D.C.” Not all of McCaul’s criticism is coming from the left, though. But to embrace the science, for a GOP leader, would be to alienate a powerful conservative base that continues to plug its ears and shout “Climategate” when confronted with the evidence. And so, one by one, top Republicans—including presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio—have fallen back on what is becoming the new party line: “I’m not a scientist.” It is not a particularly compelling line, as many analysts have pointed out. “It’s got to be the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,” one Republican energy lobbyist told the New York Times. “Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything.” To some extent, GOP leaders are banking on polls that show Americans don’t consider climate change a top national priority.

Jeff Sessions of Alabama echoed the Democrats’ frustration with the immigration legislation, saying, “We cannot be satisfied with measures that create the appearance of doing something while changing little.” At last, something both sides can agree on. More than that, they’re banking on Democrats being too timid to push back very hard on environmental issues, for fear of being painted as liberal tree-huggers. Senate really are.” The amendment, offered by Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, would have deemed that “climate change is real” and that “human activity significantly contributes” to it. “Obviously, it’s a very politically motivated vote,” he said. “They would love to get a bunch of Republicans voting against those amendments.” Five Republicans voted in favor of Schatz’s amendment — Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mark Kirk of. The Senate Energy Committee chair objected to use of “significantly” to describe human contributions to climate change. “The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they can change climate,” said Inhofe, a major recipient of oil industry contributions.

Still, as senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) noted, the result is “a small victory, but an important one.” Clearly, the attitude of deniers is softening, at least slightly, in the face of scientific evidence and public opinion. The vast majority of scientists have cited pollution from fossil fuels, chiefly emissions of carbon dioxide, as the main culprit in the Earth’s temperature rise. Republicans next year must defend 24 Senate seats compared with 10 for Democrats, a reversal from the past two elections when significantly more Senate Democrats were on the ballot.

John Hoeven, the lead Republican on the pipeline bill, that said human beings contributed to the problem fell one vote short of the 60 needed for it to be adopted. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. So here’s a list—of the senators who think climate change is some other species’ problem, and then the senators who wish we’d maybe do something about it. The votes followed President Obama’s powerful putdown of climate deniers in his State of the Union speech, in which he lampooned the frequently used (by House Speaker John Boehner) we-are-not-scientists talking point justifying inaction. “While it’s certainly clear from today’s vote that the Senators are not scientists, it’s also clear that they have no interest in science as a basis for public policy — choosing instead to be guided by the fossil fuel industry’s campaign contributions.” Keystone XL is still undergoing environmental study by the U.S.

Many Republicans have either denied the science of climate change or distanced themselves from it, saying they don’t have the expertise to issue an opinion. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., backed both amendments.) The Senate is fast-tracking Keystone XL at a moment when oil prices are falling, and oil companies are scaling back investments in Alberta’s vast tar sands project. Capital investment in new energy projects for Western Canada will plummet from $69 billion (Canadian) in 2014 to $46 billion in 2015, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said Wednesday. “No question the effects on the industry are sharp but we continue to need all forms of transportation in all directions — pipelines in particular — as our industry grows in years ahead,” Tom McMillan, president of the producers’ group, told The Globe and Mail. “Far too many senators are afraid to stand up to their polluter allies,” he said. “At the same time, Republican leaders in the House are pretending the president’s forceful call for action on climate change last night did not exist.

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