In his opening statement, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) warned the audience gathered at the Center for American Progress Action Fund that he would be speaking “as bluntly as possible” about the legislative battle being waged over American health and environmental security. CAP’s Valeri Vasquez has the story.
His speech this morning on Fighting Back: Defending our Public Health was indeed direct and unsparing, citing an “overwhelming disconnect between science and policy.” He lamented that Republicans have been newly reborn as the “party of science deniers” and warned against the recently revised campaign finance laws that allow companies like Koch Industries to “pour millions of dollars into electing legislators that agree with [their] extreme ideological agenda.”
Waxman called on Americans’ moral responsibility to act against the forces of “science denial, partisanship, and the rising power of special interests,” noting that these “deeply intertwined” elements “feed off of each other” to the detriment of public health, economic growth, and national security.
And he was quick to offer solutions alongside these matter-of-fact critiques. The path forward, he said, is to
First, preserve the Administration’s existing authorities. While Congress has been debating what to do, President Obama and his Administration have been taking important steps administratively. As a result of the Administration’s leadership, vehicles will be cleaner and more fuel-efficient than ever.
Second, we need to educate the public about what is happening in Washington. The Republican anti-science, anti-environment agenda may be the will of oil companies, but it is not what American families want.
Finally, we need to find a way to work together across party lines to address the problems of climate change and our dependence on foreign oil.
Waxman reminded his listeners that anti-science conservatives may have the funding to drive congressional outcomes “but they do not have the power to change the laws of nature.” And intensifying weather patterns are not the only greater power being ignored by climate inaction: market forces, too, are pushing forward and leaving American workers behind as the race to develop clean energy technologies moves jobs overseas.
On March 8th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on climate science. Rep. Waxman held out the hope that it the hearing will lead to “new approaches and creative ideas” for fast action on climate facts. “At tomorrow’s hearing, I will tell my Republican colleagues that I am not wedded to the language in last year’s energy bill,” he said. “I am willing to work with them”¦ We can start from a blank piece of paper.”
So long as there is a start.
– By Valeri Vasquez, CAP Energy Team Special Assistant.