Senate Climate Hearings Hosted By Denialists, Obstructionists

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings to provide an “update” on climate science. While presumably the Senators will discuss the new Koch-funded study that changed a prominent climate change “skeptic’s” mind, the Republicans on the Committee probably won’t want to hear it.

Almost to a man, the GOP Senators on this key committee have consistently denied the brute fact that humans are causing climate change and/or worked to obstruct any possible solution to the mess we’re making:

1. James Inhofe, Oklahoma: Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Committee, is one of America’s most famous climate deniers. He has written a book alleging that climate science is a conspiracy “perpetrated” by the United Nations and that any climate change that is happening is part of God’s irreversible plan for the Earth. When confronted with the fact that 97% of climate science accepted anthropogenic warming, he – surprise! – denied it.

2. David Vitter, Louisiana: Vitter has referred to evidence for climate change as “ridiculous pseudo-science garbage” and, though his home state was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and is at serious risk from future warming-caused storms, attempted to block federal funding for efforts to mitigate the worst byproducts of global warming.

3. John Barrasso, Wyoming: Barrasso appeared on Glenn Beck’s show to suggest he had a “smoking gun” suggesting the attempt to regulate CO2 emissions was simply an EPA power grab. Relatedly, Barrasso claimed the EPA’s main goal was no longer protecting the environment, but rather “remaking society,” and introduced legislation stripping the agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions.

4. Jeff Sessions, Alabama: Senator Sessions reserved his strongest ire for congressional regulation of carbon pollution, calling cap-and-trade a “conceit” that “we can manage the climate.” He has also, in the process of denying the moral importance of addressing the consequences of global warming, described CO2 as “a naturally occurring gas that plants breathe and they can’t grow without” as if that were some sort of evidence that it couldn’t harm the environment (which, of course, it isn’t.)

5. Mike Crapo, Idaho: Crapo’s official website features a page full of misinformation about climate science, claiming among other things that “the underlying cause of…climactic shifts is ultimately not well-understood” and implying that “[n]atural factors such as solar activity, volcanic eruptions and orbital changes” may explain our current period of warming (nope). He has also decried air pollution and then, in the same breath advocated expanded oil drilling in the United States.

6. Mike Johans, Nebraska: Like his compatriots, Johans has rejected the scientific consensus of anthropogenic warming, calling it “contested science.” Johans was also the author of a procedural maneuver designed explicitly to block the majority from overriding Republican obstructionism on cap-and-trade.

7. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee: Alexander is a comparative standout from the group – he believes climate change is both real, anthropogenic, and a serious problem – but that’s only if you’re grading on a curve. He opposed cap-and-trade but voted to block the EPA from regulating emissions because “that’s Congress’ job.” Though he appears to think a carbon tax is a somewhat better alternative, he has dithered on any real action to try to implement it.

There’s nothing about being a Republican or a conservative that requires legislators to be this blinkered about the climate change crisis: Former GOP Representative Bob Inglis recently founded an initiative to develop and push Republican ideas for pricing carbon.

Unfortunately, the vitriolic reaction to similar ideas from the Republican establishment and the views of the GOP leaders most responsible for establishing the party’s position on the global warming crisis suggests that we’ll have to wait for some time for Republican sanity on climate change.

28 Responses to Senate Climate Hearings Hosted By Denialists, Obstructionists

  1. SecularAnimist says:

    Zack Beauchamp wrote: “we’ll have to wait for some time for Republican sanity”

    It has nothing to do with sanity or insanity, or with “conservatism”.

    It has to do with CORRUPTION.

    It has to do with being a bought-and-paid-for stooge of the fossil fuel corporations.

    It has to do with receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in outright bribes from the fossil fuel corporations.

    These Senators are not “crazy”. THEY ARE CROOKS.

  2. Peg Mitchell says:

    Bob Inglis, along with other conservatives such as economist Art Laffer, have stated that a carbon fee and dividend method of addressing climate change and more importantly, helping a transition to renewables on a level playing field, is a solution tailor-made for those who consider themselves fiscal and social conservatives. Climate destabilization touches everyone. The solution of putting a progressively rising price on carbon and recycling all the proceeds back into people’s pockets is based on free market principles, does not increase the size of government, is revenue-neutral and thus is not a tax increase, but a tax shift. It allows the market to pick the winners and losers, not the government, and thus is far more efficient and less bureaucratic. It creates accountability by internalizing externalities for which the public is already paying. This kind of price signal would unleash a tremendous surge in investment, would usher in a new industrial revolution and create millions of new jobs. It would re-establish American industrial prowess and leadership and increase energy security while protecting public health from the effects of air pollution. So what’s not to like? Can a conservative please explain this to me? Isn’t the concept of accountability and individual responsibility, price transparency and free markets at the heart of conservative principles? I’m just totally frustrated by the ideological entrenchment to the detriment of all mankind. No one will be a winner in this game by maintaining the status quo.

  3. caerbannog says:

    Yeah, I know that I’ve been flogging this material right and left in the comment-o-sphere, but it tells a story that even a congresscritter (or at least a flunky low-level staffer) might be able to understand –> link:

    Given all the recent attention given to the global temperature record (thanx to Muller/BEST), this stuff might actually have some relevance right now.

    The odds of it doing any good are pretty close to zero, I’ll admit. But then, the cost of posting this message is also pretty close to zero. So what the hell (or should that be “he-double hockeysticks”) — I’m posting it anyway.

  4. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    What Secular Animist said.

  5. M Tucker says:

    What require office holding Republicans to hold these views are Big Oil and King Coal. We are ultimately seeking to end fossil fuel use. The fossil fuel multinational corporations will not stand for that result. They will fight and these thralls to corporate payola are just the beginning of that effort. This is bigger than the fight against tobacco. These corporations are much more powerful than the old Standard Oil or JP Morgan ever was. They will not go down without a tremendous fight and only out of office Republicans will speak the truth about AGW. It is not about waiting it is about fighting!

  6. catman306 says:

    Nationalize them.
    Void their corporate charters.
    Put a high surtax on stock dividends.
    Break them up in an anti-trust action.

    Choose from above.

  7. Kathy says:

    Thank you for such a cogent comment on this topic. If we (the US especially) could move now to start making some changes, we could actually capture a lot of the new industries and jobs that would be created.

    Also, as MTucker says below, it does appear that the fight against Big Oil will be even more protracted than the prior fight against tobacco. It’s such a shame.

    If any who read this haven’t joined, please do so.

  8. dhogaza says:

    Watts “paper” that “proves” that the warming trend in the US is only 1/2 that reported by NOAA and other researchers.

    Christy is listed as the fifth author on that paper (though it’s not at all clear he’s actually looked at it).

    Christy is slated to testify at the EPW Senate hearings tomorrow. Watts has “primed” him with this “bombshell”, in time for the hearing. The implication is that Christy is likely to repeat Watts claim as though it is true. At least, that appears to be Watts expectation.

    Now, McIntyre, brought in at the last minute to save the statistics, admits that he overlooked a huge flaw in the paper (Watts ignores well-known time of observation and sensor change issues that McIntyre himself accepts as being real).

    He didn’t catch the problem.

    He’s now trying to walk back his being part of the effort, promising to do a full-blown statistical analysis and saying that he won’t allow Watts to put his name on the paper unless these issues are addressed.

    Is there any chance in hell in priming the democratic senators on the committee to the facts here? If #5 author Christy says “watts has shown us warming to be one half of what we’re told”, it would be damned helpful to say “#4 author acknowledges a very serious error in the paper that calls into question its conclusion”.

    It would also be sweet to see Christy’s reaction.

    Any chance at all? Joe?

    McIntyre’s doing his walk-back on Climate Audit so it’s easy to track down.

  9. John McCormick says:

    Zack, time to walk that comment back> The are rethugs and that explains it all.

  10. Leif says:

    The share holders that invest in fossil for the long term can be very influential here. Is it wiser to get rich quick and loose the ecosystems or work with the green economy to stabilize profits for what is sure to be a long haul? They could vote out the current batch of CEOs. The ability of the few to profit from pollution and exploit resources will come to an end. We will all be the losers. That is a given…

  11. prokaryotes says:


    Rolling Stone on “The Climate Killers: 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb the climate catastrophe.”

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’ll add ’em all to the Defarge Society ‘Wish List’.

  13. Orion Blastar says:

    Big Oil controls our government, true. So does coal and other fossil fuel companies.

    We have solar, wind, water, geothermal and other energy sources we are not using and they are green and renewable. Why aren’t we using them? Well politicians block it. We have hydrogen fuel cell automobiles ready to go, but we won’t get the rights to put in hydrogen gas stations to refuel them.

    I’ve been to Thailand, they had Toyota cars they just made a solar power engine that drops into the car and replaces the gas powered engine. They have a solar cell based recharger that stores electricity in a capacitor and battery so the car can be recharged. Many Taxi Cabs we used had this engine in place, and Thailand was able to lower their emission rates because of it. We could have this tech in the USA, if our government and politicians didn’t block it.

    We are slaves to Middle Eastern nations that fund terrorism with oil sales, on one hand they sell us oil at a high price and buy out of stocks, on the other they use their cousins like Bin Laden to do terrorist acts on us all over the world. You want to stop that, get us off of oil and on to renewable and green energy. It is a peaceful way to do it, no violence needed, no need to bomb villages and when their money runs out they will stop these acts of terror.

    But wait, that makes way too much sense, it has to be CRAZY!

  14. TKPGH says:

    Crapo supports Solar Roadways, so his stance on AGW makes no sense. How can you support solar and be against action on global warming?

  15. Doggerelo says:

    A new study shows once again
    Global warming’s been caused by men.
    But here is the joke:
    It was funded by Koch.
    He must be heartbroken.

  16. ColoradoBob says:

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The triple-digit heat gripping Oklahoma has set temperatures records.

    The National Weather Service says daytime highs of 112 degrees in Tulsa and 108 degrees in Oklahoma City broke records that were more than 30 years old Tuesday afternoon.

    The Tulsa temperature broke the previous record of 108 that was set in 1980. Tulsa also set an all-time high minimum temperature record Monday morning of 88, a degree warmer than previous records set on Aug. 2, 2011, and July 16, 1980.

    Oklahoma City’s temperature broke a record of 107 degrees that also was set in 1980.

    Bartlesville also reached 112 degrees Tuesday, and 111-degree highs were reported in Altus, Clinton, Frederick, Guthrie, Ponca City and Stillwater.

    Daytime highs ranging from 100 degrees to 113 degrees are possible statewide Wednesday and Thursday.

  17. Glimmerman says:

    Got drought? Thanks Senator Inhofe!

  18. SecularAnimist says:

    Peg Mitchell wrote: “a solution tailor-made for those who consider themselves fiscal and social conservatives”

    The thing is, those who CALL THEMSELVES “fiscal and social conservatives” are liars.

    They are nothing of the kind. They are nothing more or less than bought-and-paid-for stooges for the fossil fuel corporations. Their goal is to protect the profits of the fossil fuel corporations by perpetuating the business-as-usual consumption of fossil fuels for as long as they can get away with it. They will never, EVER accept any solution that reduces fossil fuel consumption.

    It’s a big mistake to imagine that you are dealing with any sort of principled ideology here, “conservative” or otherwise. The fake, phony, trumped-up, so-called “conservative” pseudo-ideology of the obstructionists is as much of a fraud as their denialist pseudo-science.

  19. David F. says:

    You know what, I bet you’re right. Watts probably rushed this out specifically for this hearing & to divert attention from the Berkeley Earth analysis of global temperature. The Watts study is definitely flawed, because it makes no adjustment for the known inhomogeneity caused by the change in observing time (from afternoon to local midnight) & from the switch to MMTS. These changes disproportionately affected rural sites, because most urban sites were already reporting daily temperatures from midnight to midnight.

    Basically, Watts study crapped all over the NCDC saying they’re adjustments manipulated the warming trend and, ironically, that we should accept his adjustment. The funny thing is (Spencer and) Christy’s own satellite-based temperature data set shows a warming trend for the U.S. of +0.25C/decade for the 1979-2008 period, much higher than the +0.16C/decade Watts reports. The BEST study, which used much more data (nearly 10,000 sites in the U.S. alone) and a novel approach to eliminating inhomogeneities, came up with a trend very similar to the existing records.

    Of course, the Watts study is nothing more than a distraction. The U.S. makes up a tiny fraction of the earth’s surface.

  20. M Tucker says:

    Always the call to nationalize…as if the government will of course do the right thing because they are the government. That worked out great for Great Britain when the socialists took control after WWII didn’t it? The communist nation of China is doing a wonderful job right? The socialist government of India is doing great work with a nationalized energy sector and mining sector; don’t you agree? Makes me want to spontaneously combust! Antitrust action is entirely different but, since these guys are separate corporations, it will be hard to make the anticompetitive case, lots of players in the whole exploration, mining, and refining game. Nope, it will either begin as protests by severely impacted individuals or small groups or it will become a matter of national concern after several years of actual food shortages, water shortages, power outages, and thousands migrating away from the coasts. When our important seaports are no longer usable because the wharfs are underwater, when international trade is disrupted, when you can no longer get the latest cell phone or computer made in China, when Wal-Mart runs out of the latest flat screens, the entire world will all finally be on the same page and we will struggle to end the madness.

  21. dhogaza says:

    Christy did indeed testify that Watts et all shows that much of reported CONUS warming is due to development near thermometers. Guess I called that right. Wish I’d called it immediately after I saw Christy’s name on the paper and Watts’ comment that he rushed this out because he heard that Muller would testify about BEST at the EPW hearing.

    Maybe some Dem on the committee could’ve been prompted in time. It would’ve been *very* easy to embarrass Christy on this point.

  22. FatherTheo says:

    The greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people? The current Republican Party, hands down.

  23. Timeslayer says:


    In 20 or 30 years, any reasonably accurate history of our current era will characterize today’s Republicans as absolute villains of humankind.


  24. Oggy Bleacher says:

    Voter outreach in Oklahoma must be abysmal. The only year that was more dry than 2012 is 1935…the year everyone who could leave Oklahoma drove to California. If it weren’t for WalMart’s military-like supply chain and Big Oil’s greed there would be a famine of at least 75 million people in the Midwest. Also, federal assistance in the form of counterfeit money doesn’t hurt. That is absolutely the only difference between Oklahoma and Ethiopia. The past 60 years have been spent setting up the infrastructure to support an area that would otherwise be obliterated by drought. Unfortunately, the ends didn’t justify the means because the means CAUSED THE DROUGHT!

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    No corpus callosum.

  26. James Richard Tyrer says:

    Perhaps it would be better for the CAP and the Congress to address the more immediate threat of Arctic Warming. NASA has been quite clear that Arctic Warming, NOT Global Warming, is the main cause of the recent extreme weather in the US. And the main cause appears to be ACTUAL Carbon pollution. Carbon aerosol and particulate emissions (commonly called soot), which is Carbon pollution, appear to be the main cause of Arctic Warming as well as a cause of Global Warming.

    BTW, did anyone check the NASA figures for this year? It appears that the rest of the Earth hasn’t warmed significantly — is actually cooler than 2010.

  27. Kyle Waggener says:

    I would LOVE for things like what you stated above to be what’s played out in the political sphere but it isn’t. We have an objective problem and we have liberal solutions on one side and denial that the problem even exists on the other. As you stated, there ARE conservative solutions that conservatives could espouse, but unfortunately, that’s not what we get to pick from at the voting booth.

  28. Brad Bergstrom says:

    Crapo (or is it Crappo (the Magnificent)?):

    “underlying cause of…climactic shifts..”

    “Climactic” (not to be confused with “climatic”, as Crapo does) means “of or pertaining to a climax.” Perhaps Crappo has one every time he thinks about climate denial.