Henry Waxman on our Moral Imperative to Act Now on Climate Change

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"Henry Waxman on our Moral Imperative to Act Now on Climate Change"

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.

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11 Responses to Henry Waxman on our Moral Imperative to Act Now on Climate Change

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Waxman is one of our greatest Congressmen ever, but the notion of working with Republicans on climate change sounds like a dream to me. The GOP is goosestepping to orders from the oil and coal companies, and shirkers get spanked by McConnell and Boehner.

    OT, can anyone think of a better descriptive phrase than the innocent-sounding “special interests”? It makes monstrous companies like Peabody and Koch sound like innocent supplicants.

  2. Here’s my interview with a Robert Repetto, a leading environmental economist clearly telling America that fossil energy interests are spending hundreds of millions to fund the denial industry and buy politicians. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54690

  3. OT, can anyone think of a better descriptive phrase than the innocent-sounding “special interests”? It makes monstrous companies like Peabody and Koch sound like innocent supplicants.

    11 Cookie interests?

    or maybe Koch will be identified so closely with these issues you’d say Kochish interests?

  4. Zetetic says:

    @ Mike Roddy:
    I’ve always kind of liked the term “pollutocrats”. Since it’s descriptive of the harm that they do.

    But if you want it to be an actual word, how about just “plutocrats”? It gets to their use of money to control the government to acquire more money.

  5. Raleigh Latham says:

    Waxman is a hero of the best sort.

  6. Chris Winter says:

    Mike Roddy wrote: “OT, can anyone think of a better descriptive phrase than the innocent-sounding “special interests”? It makes monstrous companies like Peabody and Koch sound like innocent supplicants.”

    The original “robber barons” were actual German barons who charged exorbitant tools for barges on the Rhine. In the 19th century, the term was applied to rampant capitalists of the Gilded Age like John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil.

    Those folks were thieves, but they did not trash the system that provided their riches; they merely exploited it. People like the Kochs, whose activities don’t merely make them the king of diamonds in round after round, but threaten to bring down the whole house of cards, deserve a broader belittlement. The term “spoiler baron” has seen some use, but is not common.

    I thought of a few more. I don’t think they hit the spot, but I’ll post them for consideration: “Typhoon tycoons”, alluding to the harsher weather they help to bring about; “wrecker barons”; “bomber barons”, because they may blow up the whole thing; “climate clobberers”.

  7. Waxman, is the first US politician that I am aware of that has expressly stated that Americans have a moral duty to act now. This is a huge step forward. Hopefully this will develop into a discussion of the logical implications of this moral responsibility, namely that self-interest alone is not a sufficient criteria for non action on climate change because the United States has duties, responsibilities, and obligations to others. This point should be raised every time someone makes an short-term economic argument against climate change policies.

    Donald A. Brown, Associate Professor, Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law, Penn State

  8. David B. Benson says:

    Shoulda started acting in 1980 after the warning provided by the Charney chaired NRC panel’s report.

  9. Roger says:

    Waxman is a hero!

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    For the Right there is no morality but self-interest, unlimited by conscience or compassion for others.

  11. Solar Jim says:

    Waxman is a hero.

    Yet, he needs to read Frederick Douglass: power concedes nothing without a struggle. This does not mean “without a compromise.”

    A monetized system of political control is not a democracy. The very concept of America has become fraudulent and corrupt.